Sometimes we take things for granted, not realizing what we've got.  Like this now common kitchen convenience.  But a lot went into making it and you can thank a Minnesotan for it!

You probably don't think twice about it when you pop a slice of bread into the toaster for breakfast.  But there was a day you used to have to sit and watch that bread toast over an open flame and turn it so each side would toast. If you got involved in something else you often forgot about the bread and the toast burned.

But then along came a Minnesotan to save the day...


The electric toaster was invented in Scotland, but Minneapolis inventor Waters Genter made it more convenient in 1919 with the 1-A-1 Toastmaster, the first pop-up toaster.

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One commenter gave a full background:

Photo by Facebook via Best of Minnesota
Photo by Facebook via Best of Minnesota

Here's his full comment:

"Minnesota lays claim to fame for inventing the first automatic “pop-up” toaster by Charles P. Strite, who was born in Minneapolis.

Oct. 18, 1921, Strite received US Patent No. 1,394,450 for his “Bread-Toaster” device, which became known as the Toastmaster.

While working in Stillwater, Strite noticed the toast served in a local cafeteria was mostly burned.

Back then, a person needed to monitor the bread being toasted and remove it from the toasting device, such as a wired frame over an open flame, before it burned.

Strite started work on a machine that would automatically stop heating the bread once it was toasted and eject it from the toasting device.

He added heating elements, so both sides of a slice of bread were toasted at the same time.

When the timer turned off the electricity, a mechanical spring ejected, or “popped up,” the finished toast, thus, no more burned toast."

The Toastmaster was first sold only to restaurants.

Several model types were manufactured, including one that toasted 12 slices of bread simultaneously. This model weighed 65 pounds and consumed 5,500 watts of power.

Strite’s company, Waters-Genter of Minneapolis, began selling the first automatic pop-up household toaster under the name Toastmaster in 1926.

One commonly-sold model was the four-slice Toastmaster, which weighed 32 pounds and cost $100.

Strite’s original company became Toastmaster, Inc. It was acquired by Salton, Inc. in 1999, which also owns the rights to the George Foreman Grill.


You can see that first toaster in action here.  It's crazy to see how it worked back then.  Notice how there are two levers, but only one slice of bread goes in?  The right lever slowly moves up as the the bread toasts. When it gets to the top, the lever on the left pops the bread out of the toaster.

We take that for granted today, but it was state of the art back then.  Not to more burnt toast!

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