Toaster ovens can be defined as “an electrical appliance that functions as both an oven and a toaster and is small enough to fit on a kitchen counter or table.” Toasted bread is called toast and other toastable products can be described as toaster pastry.
The main function of the toaster is to toast the bread by heating it. The heat is usually produced by passing electricity through nichrome wires. The main aim of the toasting process is to reduce the water content in the bread, raising its temperature and charring its surface slightly.
But it was not always the electric toaster ovens that were used. Before the development of these electrical appliances, sliced bread was toasted by placing it in a metal frame and holding it over a fire or near to the fire by using a long-handled fork. The history of toasting bread over open fires goes back to at least 200 years and then people simply speared bread with a stick or a knife and held it over a fire.
History of Toaster Ovens:
The concept of toaster ovens developed from the electric toasters which were developed in the mid-nineteenth century. The first electric bread toaster was created by Maddy Kennedy in 1872. Crompton, Stephen J. Cook & Company of the UK marketed an electric, iron-wired toasting appliance in 1893 but this did not get the expected response and therefore there is no significant information with the Toaster Museum too.
In 1905, an Irish man Connor Neeson (1877-1944) of Detroit and his employer William Hoskins (1862-1934) invented chromel, an alloy from which the first high-resistance wire were made. These wires are used in almost all early electric heating appliances. This alloy was patented in 1906 sometime before the filing of patent application for electric toaster.
George Schneider of the American Electrical Heater Company, Detroit was the first person to file a patent application for an electric toaster.
The General Electricals released an electric toaster in 1909 that was patented under the name D-12 but it had to face some opposition from the Pacific Electric Heating Company’s product Hotpoint which also catered to the same market segment.
The first toaster oven was invented in 1910 by a person called William Hadaway who built it for the Westinghouse Corporation which is still a leading producer of toaster ovens in the country. This was developed as a by-product of the electric stove.
Till this time, the bread had to be turned and roasted manually. But in 1919, the pop-up toaster was patented by Charles Strite. This type of electric toaster ejects the toast after toasting it.
In 1925, The Toastmaster Company started marketing a redesigned version of Charles Strite’s toaster. It was the first household toaster which could brown both sides of the bread simultaneously. It had a time setter and could eject the bread after it was done. By 1926, this newer version was a huge success among the masses and had become a household name.
Till a few decades back, only bread could be toasted but with the changes in technology, one can toast frozen bread and also operate multi-layers in the oven to toast either two or four slices as per the requirement.
Today toaster ovens have horizontal electrical filaments instead of the vertical ones like that of a pop-up toaster. It also has a reheating function which allows the toast to be reheated without burning it. The toaster oven now has a glass door which has to be opened to pull out the detachable tray. Given its design, a toaster oven can also perform some of the functions provided by a regular oven, just on a smaller scale.
Thus, toaster ovens have come a long way from being mere toasters. They have developed into multi-purpose utilities.
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