Saturday, September 25, 2010

Toasters and Toaster Ovens

The other day, while enjoying some garlic toast for dinner, my husband and I had a brief discussion of toaster ovens and toasters that led to each of us Googling to learn more about the history of the toaster.  One of the interesting sites we located is the Cybertoaster Museum, which contains many excellent photographs of the various stages in the toaster's development.

It turns out that the toaster is an early twentieth-century invention. The first toasters were invented just before the dawn of the twentieth century, and were rapidly improved thereafter. By the 1950s they had become a standard item in American kitchens.  The attached photograph, which I obtained from Wikipedia, and am using here pursuant to a Creative Commons license, is a very early model dating from 1909. The toaster oven, which is based on the same principle of an electric-heating-element-in-a-metal-box, appears to have been invented in the 1960s. My home has one, supplied by one of the previous owners. That's the only way I'd be likely to own a toaster oven, since most of the things a toaster oven can do are either out of fashion or have been co-opted by more recent inventions.

So what use is a toaster oven? It's a wonderful way to make impromptu garlic bread. We do so this way:
  1. Cut two (toaster ovens rarely will fit more) generous slices of crusty French or Italian bread.
  2. Spread the slices generously with butter or margarine (the closer your spread is to actual butter, the better the result will taste).
  3. Sprinkle each slice with garlic powder.
  4. Place on aluminum foil in toaster oven, spread-side up, and toast until crunchy and/or lightly browned. 
The same type of recipe can be used in an ordinary home oven, but a toaster oven is great for making a single-serving batch of garlic bread very quickly.  It is, needless to say, impossible to make garlic bread in a conventional toaster, and would have been dangerous to try to make it in an early toaster such as the 1909 version above. 

Flavored breads (try a rosemary and olive oil loaf from Wegmans, if there's one near you!) produce the most interesting results, though a simple boule will work well. Bon appetit!

EDIT:  6/25/2018  Corrected the reference to the invention date of the toaster, which according to Wikipedia was invented in 1893 by a Scotsman.  


  1. I find the toaster oven to be a wonderful alternative To use especially in the summer time So as to not heat up the whole house. I've cooked an entire 4 pound ham In our toaster oven. I've also bake small Single layer cakes. Since its just my husband and I, the toaster oven is ideal to cook two pork chops, broil 2 small steaks... you get the idea. And yes, it does make the best garlic bread.

  2. Hi, Tasha! I've never tried cooking meat in my toaster oven.... maybe I should, sometime. Thanks for stopping by!