toaster mystery

Why is it that when you put one slice of bread in the toaster (some new ones may be more sophisticated; mine is a few years old and not that expensive) do you have to put it in one slot instead of the other? I did the test, put it in the “forbidden opening”, and, sure enough, the slice popped back some 10 seconds later and what came out could hardly have been described as a piece of toast.

What’s the SD?

omniscientnot, in a previous incarnation.
The hyphen says it all…

I don’t know for a fact that toasters have thermostats, but one way I can think to design a toaster is to use a thermostat to determine when the toast is done. The dial sets how hot you want the toast to be when it is considered ‘done’.

It’s cheaper to have just one thermostat in the toaster. If there’s no bread in the slot with the thermostat, it will heat up very quickly and think your toast is done. So, follow the directions and enjoy your toast.

Evidence for a thermostat rather than a timer:

  1. Toast a piece of bread.

  2. As soon as it pops up, pop it back down.

On my toaster (admittedly a cheap one) it pops right back up. Why? Because it’s still at the thermostat temperature. If it were a timer it would go through the whole cycle again.

Exactly what gets measured is still a good question though.

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”

I don’t know how old your toaster is, omni-not, but do you have to drop the toast in to make the toast go down or do you press a lever? If it’s the “drop-toast” kind then, based on the toaster my parents had when I was a kid, the “one slice” slot actually contained the lever/spring mechanism for lowering the toast. I have a “lever-press” kind now and don’t even know if it has a “one slice” slot. It’s rare that I make toast, but when I do, I make 2 slices.

*The “ONE SLICE” slot is where the toaster’s thermostat is. Use the other opening and you could wind up with under- or overcooked toast.

If your toaster has an energy-saver feature, in which only the heating coils in the center and on one side warm up when you make one slice, things might come out, you know, half-baked.*–Cecil Adams, “What happens if I don’t put my one slice of bread in the toaster’s ONE SLICE slot?”,

I don’t get to do this often, but:

There does seem to be some type of limiter as to how hot (the coils? the air? the bread?) seems to get, but I can’t see how a thermostat could measure the surface temperature of the bread amongst all the infrared flying around in there. Maybe it’s a timer combined with a sensor for the coil temperature? I dunno, but I managed just now to thoroughly blacken two Pillsbury ™ Toaster Scrambles. The second push-down cycle did not last as long as the first, but if there’s a thermostat in there, it failed miserably.

At least I know my smoke detector is working.

Dr. Fidelius pushed the button first, but his transmission was delayed as it bounced off three satellites as opposed to whitetho’s two.

Many thanks, guys. That was quick. And, to boot, now I know there is a religion devoted to toast. The intelligent thermostat is still a bit of a puzzlement to me, though, as is the symbiosis between said thermostat and the gizmo at the bottom of the toaster which allows you to brown your slice of bread according to taste.

[url=]The Toaster Museum Foundation[/ur/]

Everything you always wanted to know about toasters, plus a really cool museum!


“Believe those who seek the truth.
Doubt those who find it.” --Andre Gide

Damn. The Toaster Museum Foundation

Thanks, Thuff.

I was beginning to despair that no one on this highly self-congratulatory MB could even tell us how a toaster works!

BTW, the article mentions both thermostats and timers. That may explain NickRZ burning his Pop Tarts!

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”

Of course. The good old Maillard reaction: I should have known :smiley: All I can tell you is, from now on, I’ll have much more respect for my humble toaster :)!!

Thanks Thuff…

omniscientnot, in a previous incarnation.
The hyphen says it all…

My toaster has sort of claws inside so it can tell just how wide a piece of bread is so it knows how long to cook it. cool.

I had a URL around here somewhere that documented how to get a five-foot flame to shoot out of your toaster. I came across it while looking for spud-gun plans. It involved Strawberry Pop-Tarts and keeping the handle depressed for several minutes. Let me see if I can find it again…

There appear to be multiple copies of a “Strawberry Pop-Tart Blow-Torches” page, including one at

Side note: I’ve never owned a toaster. The few times I’ve made toast, I just heated up bread slices in a frying pan, alternating sides as needed.

Anybody get a toaste for a wedding present? People used to get several. We didn’t so we went for years and years without one.

This one woman brought toast to work, buttered. There is a toaster in the cafeteria.She stuck the buttered toast in there. I didn’t have time to see the mess she made.