Early toaster inventions are barely even recognizable when compared to the toasters of today. Modern toasters have advanced technology like the ability to toast many pieces of bread, toast on both sides, or even do both simultaneously with rapid speed.
If you have ever wondered about the origins of toasters, then you have come to the right place. This article answers the question, “when was the toaster invented?”. It will also discuss who invented the earliest toaster to help you gain an understanding of how far they have come since their invention.
Join us as we take a quick trip through the early days of toaster inventions to learn all about how the toasting process developed.
i don’t believe in god but i believe in the guy who invented the toaster oven
— kait (@KaitlynKauffman) March 8, 2021
Inventing the Toaster: A Brief History of Toasting Bread
Toasting bread dates back to the Romans’ time when they used a toasting fork over an open fire to brown bread. Today, toasters are generally known to be the most common household appliance. Since the invention of the first toaster machine just over 100 years ago, toasters have progressed, and development has increased significantly. Let’s explore how.
The First Toaster
Who made the first toaster? The first electric toaster was invented, minus accessory tools like a toasting fork, by Alan MacMasters in Scotland in 1893. Alan Macmasters called his device the Eclipse Toaster. It toasted one side of the sliced bread when using iron wiring and forced you to manually flip it over halfway through instead of having a bread turner. This bread toaster was marketed and produced by the British Crompton Company.
The first electric toaster was an extraordinary step towards what we have come to know as an electric toaster today. On the other hand, the main issue it faced was the lack of a proper heating element that could be heat resistant enough to sustain high temperatures repeatedly.
Alan MacMasters invented the toaster in scotland, where he dubbed it the “Eclipse Toaster”
— Firefox (@FireeFoxBrowser) July 23, 2019
That is, of course, until Albert Marsh created the Nichrome filament in 1905. Nichrome used nickel and chromium alloy on the filament wire to make it durable and safe when heated. This new heating element was quickly adapted for use in an electric toaster.
In 1906, George Schneider filed for the first US patent application for an electric toaster on behalf of the American Electrical Heater Company in Detroit. This redesigned version of a toaster led to the many advancements soon to come.
The First Commercially Successful Electric Toaster
A few years later, in 1909, Frank Shailor of General Electric invented the D-12 toaster model. Frank Shailor and General Electric used the newer heating element technology. They created a product that became significantly more successful than the previous electric toasters helping General Electric solidify its name in the appliance world.
I kind of love how terrifyingly dangerous early electric appliances were.
Here's the 1909 D-12 electric toaster, invented by Frank Shailor of General Electric. pic.twitter.com/uKsCXei0rB
— *puts on flower crown, falls into a faerie circle* (@Klezmerstyle) June 17, 2020
A few years later, in 1913, Lloyd Groff Copeman invented the first automatic bread toaster. This first automatic toaster version turned the bread, so you didn’t have to do it manually. It became a time-saving tool that was handy in any kitchen.
The First Pop-Up Toaster
Next up in the line of inventors associated with toasters is Charles Strite. He invented the more modern version of a toaster by adding features like a timer and an automatic pop-up design in 1919. By 1921 Strite’s toaster received its patent as the very first automatic pop-up toaster. His automatic toasters were designed for use in restaurants and were much easier to use than earlier toasters.
The Waters Genter Company used the automatic pop-up design to make toasters more accessible and ideal for home use. They began selling the first home toaster, the Toastmaster, in 1926.
At the time, toasters were most certainly considered a luxury in the home. How much was a toaster in the 1920s? Anywhere from $5 to $15, but considering the era, this was not inexpensive.
#InventorsDay 🍞 The first automatic pop-up toaster was invented by Mpls resident Charles Strite in 1919. Strite received a patent for his device, which he named the Toastmaster, in 1921.
Image from the HHM collection pic.twitter.com/AjG8hTqKyp
— Hennepin History Museum (@hennepinhistory) February 11, 2021
Similar to the way heating elements enabled the progression of toasters, there are a couple of other fundamental changes and inventions that helped toasters become increasingly popular over time.
Bread Slicer Machine
Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the first bread slicer machine in 1928. His machine created sliced bread out of entire loaves and was designed for commercial use. The first machine of its type was used at the Chillico the Baking Company in Missouri, USA. It enabled and allowed the first bag of pre-sliced bread to be sold on the 7th of July in 1928.
Just two years later, in 1930, a myriad of other baking companies began selling slices of bread instead of only solid, complete loaves, including Wonder Bread. The availability of bread slices straight from the bag increased its use over the next several years, making sandwiches more popular, and of course, helping to increase the popularity of toasters.
Sliced bread was introduced by Wonder Bread label in 1930…lol..so, "the best thing since sliced bread" means "in the last 80 years".
— CrushFoster (@ZenCrush) September 17, 2010
Better Toast Quality
As time progressed, pop-up toasters and sliced bread became increasingly in demand thanks to handy inventions that advanced the timer functions, allowing toasters to cook bread more accurately. Instead of relying on the heating element’s temperature, toasters were eventually able to base their pop-up timer on the temperature and moisture level in the bread slices themselves, leading to a more consistent toast quality.
Chances are pretty good you already own a household toaster, even before you knew about its origin story. However, now that you know all about its origins, history, and development, maybe you will appreciate it a bit more the next time you take it out to make toast. After all, we have come a long way since using fire accompanied by a toasting fork, right?
Instead of asking yourself, when was the toaster invented? Maybe you will be grateful for how many inventions and advancements were made so you can toast bread quickly and efficiently, without having to slice the bread in advance. Yum!
We hope you have enjoyed learning more about the toaster. Share any unusual facts you may have. We would love to hear them!