display | more...

It's been a bad season for toasters. I'm ready to throw ours at the wall. No two batches are toasted to the same degree, irrespective of where you park the little darkness lever--hell, no two sides of a two-slice batch are toasted to the same degree. I miss the toaster my folks got for a wedding present in 1949. It was way cool deco and had little swirly loops on its sides (although almost everything else did in 1949, for that matter) and made a sharp little tick when it was ready to pop so you could put the paper down and get ready to grab the perfectly toasted Wonder Breads as they erupted out the top. It lasted for forty years, and we dumped it only after somebody knocked it off the counter and the bottom plate shattered, releasing most of a lifetime of near-toxic preservative-laden Wonder Bread crumbs into the ecosphere.

We just can't make toasters toast anymore, and I think I know why: Today's toasters are addicted to inappropriate technology. I don't need a microprocessor in my toaster. Stupid appliances take orders better, and don't feel the need to be creative. Viz: I was cruising a catalog yesterday hunting down a replacement and saw a toaster that imprints a cute panda bear face on the side of every toasted slice. This is supposed to make kids want to eat their toast, but I have my doubts. Food that looks at you is a bad idea. The best thing I can say about going to a raw bar is that oysters don't have eyes.

Case in point: When I was eight and my sister was four, my mom worked PMs three days a week, and on those days the old man would make supper. He would often bring home whole smoked chubs. He taught me how to parse mine, and would cut up my sister's for her. I took great delight in parking the severed fish heads on the edge of my plate (often on a foundation of macaroni and cheese) so that they were looking right at her. She would scream, and the old man would swear, reach out one thumb and spin my plate so that they were looking at me instead. Once he spun it so fast that the fish heads flew off by centrifugal force and landed in my lap, except for one that the dog caught on the fly. I didn't see my sister laugh that hard again until the first season of Seinfeld.

There's a 1949 toaster on eBay. Bidding's at $350, but damn, I'm tempted. These days even stupidity comes at a premium.