Toasters may be the next best thing after sliced bread but they were actually here first. The very first electric toasters were fire hazards but the first commercially successful one was the El Tosto toaster introduced in 1905. The Simplex toaster and the D-12 toaster soon followed but the first toaster to toast both sides of the bread came in 1913. The Toastmaster 1-A-1 in 1926 became the first pop-up toaster introduced to the market. It also debuted as a popular and pricey wedding gift.
The average household in the U.S. is estimated to spend about 35 hours a year toasting bread with about 75 million household members making toast every day.The organization named The Toaster Museum Foundation is devoted to studying the history of toasters.
Table of Contents
- 1. Standard Toasters
- 2. Toaster Ovens
- 3. Convection Toaster Ovens
- 4. Commercial Toasters/Toaster Ovens
1. Standard Toasters
A. Design Elements
When you’re deciding on the design of the toaster you want, you should take into consideration two aspects – the size of the counter space you have available, and whether you want a two- or four-slice toaster. Both are a matter of preference and tastes, of course, but the space taken up by the toaster and your available counter space are still important considerations that you should definitely think about before running out and buying the first toaster you see. Otherwise, you may run out of counter space or find your toaster doesn’t meet your needs once you get it home.
Toaster features number in the dozens and include aspects such as:
- Slice capacity: usually either two or four slices can be toasted at a time, with many toasters containing two very wide slots that can easily toast four pieces of bread at a time
- Bagel settings: this is a feature that can be truly invaluable for bagel-lovers, but it is also good for toasting just one side of a piece of bread; with this setting, the open face of the bagel should be facing inward in order to have the right side toasted
- Crumb trays: not all toasters have this feature, but they can make keeping your toaster clean a lot easier and faster to do
- Defrost setting: this is a very handy setting if you’re one of those people who freezes your bread; with one easy step, the toasters with this setting will defrost then toast your bread for you, making it very simple on your part
- Shade setting: nearly all toasters have this setting; it allows you to toast your bread as light or as dark as you want it to be, and you can easily change it at any point
- Housing of the toaster: toasters are usually housed with either plastic or stainless steel, as a general rule, which directly affects the heat of the toaster itself; if you have young children it is recommended that you choose a toaster made with an outside of either plastic or some type of cool-reach steel, which are both less likely to retain heat and therefore stay cooler than toasters that are made out of regular steel or metal
- Display: displays usually indicate the shade setting or the time remaining until the toast is done, among other things; they are more common on toaster ovens and guarantee that you are on the correct setting, making it easier not to accidentally burn the food you’re trying to cook
- Reheat setting: this is a very convenient setting because it reheats your bread without re-toasting it or browning it; unlike the reheat feature on microwave ovens, which usually produce soggy bread or food that is too soft, the reheat setting on a toaster works perfectly and produces a delicious piece of warm bread every time
- Lifts: these are common in toasters and automatically lift the toast once it’s done to perfection; however, many toasters also have an automatic lift that lifts the toast with the touch of a button
- Auto-centering guides: the main advantage of these is to make sure your breads toast evenly
- Cancel function: although not included on all toasters, this is a very convenient feature to have for obvious reasons
- Cord wraps: some toasters have cord wraps on the bottom so that storing your cord neatly is a lot easier to do
- Special slots for foods other than bread: many toasters prepare not only bread, but also have slots to toast or heat up hot dogs and hot dog buns, among other foods, allowing you to prepare an entire meal in just one sitting
Naturally, not all toasters will include all of these features, so if you’re interested in a particular feature, it is best to do some research so that you are sure you have found a toaster that meets your needs. This is simpler and faster when you start with the Internet, because online stores will explain in detail each feature of each of the toasters they sell.
Toasters come in a wide selection of sizes, and the toasting slots are at least 1.5 inches wide, bigger when they are designed to toast bagels. The wattage usually ranges from 750 to 1250, and the sizes vary not only in the overall dimensions but also according to their features, which can directly affect the toasters’ overall size. This is why measuring the space on your countertop is so important before you decide on a toaster to buy, especially if you have limited space and want specific features on the toaster you end up purchasing.
Toasters themselves are usually made out of stainless steel but can be encased by either more stainless steel or a hard plastic housing element. Because of the heat that the toaster is exposed to, the material the unit is made of is extremely important, being necessary if the toaster is to work properly.
Dozens of toasters of all designs, sizes, and types can be found at high-quality stores such as Home Depot by viewing their website.
2. Toaster Ovens
A. Design Elements
Toaster ovens are convenient because they are designed to heat up, toast, and even cook a variety of foods, and they come in so many designs and types that it is all but impossible not to find the one that is right for you. Many people consider toaster ovens to be a second oven for their home, because they can be used to broil, warm, bake, defrost, reheat, and toast, to name a few. Their multi-functional capability allows them to be the perfect appliance for any kitchen, and once you use yours a time or two, you’ll likely wonder how you ever got along without it.
Most toaster ovens can perform a variety of tasks, including:
- Defrost setting: if you tend to cook your food from a frozen start, this is the perfect setting, because it is specially designed to defrost then cook the food to perfection every time
- Basic cooking setting: although not applicable to all foods, many foods can be cooked like regular ovens with a toaster oven
- Toast shade setting: like regular toasters, toaster ovens usually have settings that allow you to toast your bread to the setting of your desire, allowing you to enjoy it just like you like it once you’re done
- Reheat setting: this is one of a toaster oven’s most valuable settings, because it can reheat food without making it soggy or over-cooking it, which is invaluable for most foods you wish to reheat
In addition, toaster ovens come with many valuable features that make using them very convenient to use, including:
- Automatic shut-off feature: this feature is perfect for the absent-minded individual because it keeps you from burning food if you inadvertently forget that you have something in the oven; it usually shuts off the even once the cycle is complete or when the time runs out to prevent a catastrophe from happening
- Timer feature: this is not the same thing as a shade setting, although with some toaster ovens the shade setting does essentially the same thing; it is especially useful for functions that need to be watched carefully, such as toasting, broiling, and baking foods, which can be ruined for good if not cooked the right amount of time; in addition, most toaster ovens allow you to set the timer for up to 25 minutes
- Temperature settings: unlike regular toasters, toaster ovens can be set for a specific temperature just like regular ovens; this is especially useful when you are cooking or baking a food that requires a certain temperature in order to be cooked properly, and it ensures that the food will be cooked to perfection every time; most toaster ovens have settings that range from 250 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
- Interior light feature: interior lights serve two main purposes – to allow users to peek on the inside of the oven to check the status of the food, and to prevent accidental burning when you are reaching inside to retrieve a piece of toast or other food item
- Infrared heating elements: these elements allow you to have instant heat inside the toaster oven whenever it is needed; they include two types – near elements, which can penetrate the food just right on the inside so that it is cooked properly, and far elements, which are used to cook the outside of the food just right; the two work together to thoroughly and efficiently cook your food in a short period of time, which is perfect especially if you are in a hurry; infrared elements also eliminate the need to preheat the toaster oven
- Display feature: this is a unique feature not usually found on regular toasters, and it usually includes specifications such as date, time, amount remaining on the cooking activity, and the actual cooking setting, all of which makes cooking a lot more convenient
- Auto cook menus: this is a very valuable feature, because you can do things like defrost a pizza or bake a potato without having to figure out how much time to devote to the task or which temperature to choose; instead, you just place the food inside the oven and press a button, and the oven does the rest
- Hinged doors: this may sound like it isn’t that important, but when you’re trying to get a food item out of your toaster oven, this can make the task a lot easier and faster on your part, meaning you won’t have to wait too long to enjoy your food
Toaster ovens are quite large compared to regular toasters but obviously a lot smaller than regular ovens. Typical sizes include 11 inches in height, 18 inches in width, and 16 inches in depth. They weigh approximately 22 pounds and usually have .8 cubic feet available in the interior of the oven.
The typical toaster oven is big enough for six slices of toast or a 13-inch pizza. In other words, a toaster oven is large enough to do all the things you bought it to do, which means you can rely on it to work properly for a very long time. There are also mini toaster ovens, which are smaller and are great for people who live alone or do not cook much using their ovens.
Most toaster ovens are made of heavy-duty stainless steel but have coated racks and trays that allow for easier removal of your foods. All of the parts inside and outside of the oven are high-quality, since they are usually made by well-known, reputable companies. These top-notch materials ensure that the oven will be reliable and will last for many years to come, allowing you to get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
Toaster ovens both small and large can be found at discounted prices by patronizing online stores such as Wayfair.
3. Convection Toaster Ovens
Convection toaster ovens are used mostly by commercial entities, but they do make convection toaster ovens for personal use. The main difference between a regular or toaster oven and one that has a convection feature is the built-in fan that works to produce more even heat, allowing you to get your food cooked through and through, more efficiently and a lot faster.
Most people that use them wonder why they didn’t start using them a lot earlier, because the ovens are designed to utilize a super-charged fan that circulates air around the inside of the oven, making the heat sources used a lot more efficient.
The main features and advantages of convection ovens include the following:
- They use the same three heat sources as regular ovens – warm air, radiant heat, and conduction from the baking pan – but add in a high-tech fan that forces air to circulate throughout the inside of the oven
- They increase the oven’s temperature while keeping it both accurate and consistent
- They cook food more quickly and in a more even fashion
- They remove moisture, which encourages the browning process – great for cooking items such as roasted meats and vegetables
- Some convection ovens allow you to turn off this feature if you so desire, while for others, the convection feature remains on all the time
- The ovens are simple to learn to use and are usually described in detail in the owner’s manual
- Since convection ovens eliminate cold and hot spots from happening, there is no need to turn your food occasionally to keep it from burning or becoming over-cooked
- The cooking is so consistent that there is no need to continuously open and close the door to check on the condition of the foods inside
- Because the cooking is so consistent and even, you often don’t have to cook your foods at high temperatures or for as long as you do with traditional toaster ovens, saving you both time and money
- You can cook two different types of foods at the same time without the efficiency becoming affected, which is especially useful when baking goodies
- Because of the unique way that convection toaster ovens cook, you can easily use lining paper or aluminum foil without worrying about the quality, consistency, or the time it takes to cook the foods inside, giving you an easy way to clean your oven after it’s been used
Convection toaster ovens do cook a little differently than regular toaster ovens and may require that you make some adjustments to your cooking style, at least early on, but since they are so user-friendly, you should have no problems learning how to cook with them over time.
Convection toaster ovens are often a little larger than regular toaster ovens, but not by much, meaning if you’re used to working with an oven of a certain size, it shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment to start working with an oven that has a convection feature. If you’re a small business owner and concerned about counter space, the stores that sell convection toaster ovens online will give you exact measurements of each oven they sell, making it easy for you to determine which one to purchase.
Convection ovens are made of heavy-duty materials and special high-quality fans that are specifically made for these products, and even the more reasonably priced ovens are sturdy, reliable, and built to last, meaning you can count on yours to last for many years to come. If you’re interested in exploring various convection toaster ovens, visiting online stores such as Hayneedle can help get you started.
4. Commercial Toasters/Toaster Ovens
A. Design Elements
Commercial toasters and toaster ovens are specifically designed for commercial use and therefore many of them are designed a little differently than those products meant for individual or home use. Their designs often include larger components that accommodate being able to cook large amounts of food at one time, and even the parts themselves can be designed a little sturdier and stronger than those for home use, due to the fact that they get a lot more use than the personal devices.
After all, commercial kitchens and restaurants need high-quality products that are able to cook large amounts of food day after day, which is why their items such as toasters and toaster ovens are a little different than standard products.
Before you look for the toaster you want for your commercial facility, it is best to take certain things into consideration. These include:
- What will you be toasting – bread, bagels, English muffins, Texas toast, or something else?
- How much counter space do you have to put the toaster on?
- How many pieces of bread can the toaster toast in an hour – 50? 200? 500?
- What electrical requirements do you need, and what requirements does the toaster you’re considering need to operate?
Pop-up toasters usually can handle thinner breads such as regular bread slices and English muffins, while conveyor toasters can handle thicker items like bagels and specialty breads. The number of slices that can be toasted per hour includes 500 for pop-up toasters, up to 1600 for conveyor toasters, and up to 1600 for bun-grilling toasters.
Regarding the amount of countertop space needed by each type of toaster, the measurements are as follows: under 13 inches in width and 14 inches in depth for pop-up toasters, up to 24 inches in width and 26 inches in depth for conveyor toasters, and up to 25 inches in width and 18 inches in depth for bun-grilling toasters, although for these types of toasters you need to keep in mind that they can be as tall as 31 inches in height.
For all three types of toasters, there are various models that require different electrical requirements, although most of them need either 120V, 208V, or 240V, which is important to keep in mind when researching them.
Other things to consider when researching various commercial toasters include:
- Toasting time
- Product opening or slot size
- Heat control temperature and its ability or the necessity for it to be adjusted
- Usage, including light-duty, heavy-duty commercial, and medium-duty commercial
For conveyor toasters, you should also take into consideration whether you will need a stacking or a wall-mount kit, while for bun-grilling toasters, things such as dry versus wet toasting also should be kept in mind.
The sizes of commercial toasters and toaster ovens can vary greatly depending on the brand and the model, but again, online stores in particular do a great job of laying out in specific detail the sizes of their items. This means that when you’re considering counter space and the size of the product in relation to your facility, the decision regarding which toaster to choose should be simple.
Heavy-duty, technologically advanced parts and materials are used in all toasters and toaster ovens, because they have to last a very long time between repairs and replacements. Fortunately, most of the companies that sell this equipment also make basic repairs when necessary, meaning your equipment should last for many years to come. If you’re interested in researching various commercial toaster ovens, it is best to start with a reputable store like Wayfair.