Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Toaster Wars

The simple act of buying a toaster has become like so much else around here. You have to be an expert.

It’s not exactly like buying a car. But close. The product rating organizations don’t say much about these machines. Maybe they should.

The need for one of these arose on a recent morning when Old Bernie The Toaster finally breathed his last. Old Bernie, so-named because he had two settings that worked: dark and charcoal.

That morning’s toast was made in the microwave. Here’s a handy household hint: microwaves can’t make toast. They can make hot bread. Soggy hot bread if you drip a little water on the slice. But not toast.

Where to go?

The first foray was to Gigunda-Mart, where everyday low prices are the rule.

Fifty different toasters. Two slice. One slice. Four slice. Even six slice. Prices from ten bucks to about 30.

Flimsy junk from overseas. But cheap.

Nothing seemed to leap off the shelf, which probably is a good thing because one of those would likely crash to its death on hitting the floor. Ugly.

All those Gigunda-Mart employees you can never find when you need help because they’re out calculating their overtime and fringe benefits would gravitate to the aisle where the toaster was screaming in its final agony. And, of course, “you broke it, you bought it.”

Next foray: the mid-price department store, where the array was slightly smaller, the prices slightly higher and the parking closer.

“Toasters?” said the guy with the carnation on his lapel? “Just go through the men’s suits, pass through the cosmetics and jewelry departments and head downstairs.”

Final stop: the specialty retailer, Gourmet Tools Paradise, which specializes in $200 carving knives and things that look like kitchen implements but that no one but Martha Stewart knows what to call – and even SHE doesn’t know how to use.

They had toasters, alright. Bottom price, $150. Beautiful red or yellow or blue enamel finish. Precisely calibrated temperature controls. None of this “light-medium-dark” baloney. AND “Guaranteed To Make Perfect Toast Every Time.”

So, toasters are ten bucks at Gigunda-Mart and 150 at Gourmet Tools Paradise. That’s some spread.

And does this machine (it’s just a couple of heating coils, after all,) do bagels? “Oh NO, sir. Of COURSE not. We have a special bagel toaster you can buy, but this one just does sliced bread.”

Perish forbid they make the slots a little wider to accommodate hand cut bread or rolls or bagels!

Why don’t they? “Oh, sir, that would cause the heat to be distributed unevenly and obviate the ability to guarantee “…Perfect Toast Every Time.”

Of course!

The next morning, the toast went into the seldom-used stove. This is a bad idea. Not even the resident seagulls would touch what came out of the oven.

Maybe someone can fix Old Bernie.

Either that or it’s Special K for breakfast from now on.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ™

1 comment:

John G said...

Is there a used clothing store in your area? Those places are apt to carry toasters, telephones, typewriters and other medium-sized household objects. They often have ones that were made in better days and work fine. And they're cheap.

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