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A little experiment for all of you innovators of toasters out there. Here's what you do: Find a toaster, preferably one that your mom doesn't want anymore. Take it outside (WARNING! Only do this outside!). Plug the toaster into an extention cord and plug the extention cord inside. Then, force the handle of the toaster down, so that it stays down. I like to use duct tape to keep it down, since it's not really a good idea to stand near the toaster during the experiment. Then, place a pop tart in the toaster, stand back, and wait. I have found, in my experimentation, that the pop tart will begin to over cook. I have also found that pop tarts are flammable. Therefore, the results will be a 1-4 ft. flame coming out of the toaster. When you've had all the fun you can have with your pop tart flame thower, take some baking powder and sprinkle it on the flame to put it out. This is much better than using water. One thing I have found about this experiment; it kills the toaster, so you will have to find a new one if you ever want to repeat this experiment. Enjoy!

The Strawberry Pop-Tart blowtorch article by Dave Barry was originally published on June 27, 1993. His essay was inspired by an article from a New Philadelphia, Ohio newspaper, which discussed a similar experiment conducted in the investigation of a kitchen fire. (Further research on Google will reveal that Strawberry Pop-Tarts have been involved in numerous such incidents.) Dave contacted the investigator involved in the experiment, Don Dunfee, and learned that they had rigged a toaster to not pop up, and watched what happened to a strawberry Pop-Tart placed within. After about 5 minutes, 55 seconds, it emitted flames up to three feet high. Mr. Barry, being the whimsical and motivated chap that he is, decided to replicate the experiment himself, and reported nearly identical results. The full text of his (quite amusing) 1993 article is available at http://www.jpmahoney.com/Public/poptart.txt

The next year, Patrick R. Michaud, a professor at Texas A&M at Corpus Christi, repeated the experiment himself, and this time created a web page of the results. His page, a WWW classic, while no longer available at the original http://www.sci.tamucc.edu/~pmichaud/toast/, can be found at http://gearbox.maem.umr.edu/personal/cottrell/poptarts/poptarts.htm, complete with GIF images and minimal HTML formatting. This page very quickly became quite popular, and was one of the first web pages I visited when I was first learning how to use the World Wide Web in 1994. Patrick Michaud's website also holds a page describing his earlier experiment Fun with Grapes - A Case Study, which discusses what happens when you put a bisected grape in a microwave oven.

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