My own, personal Question Of the Day–Why, more than 119 years after Francis Robbins Upton filed his patent for an electric smoke detector/fire alarm, hasn't anyone improved that little plastic box on my ceiling to the point where it can differentiate between potentially life-threatening situations and say, a smoldering crumb or a rapidly boiling pot of water or even the steam from a really hot shower?
And speaking of smoldering crumbs–in July of 1909, Frank Shailor filed the first US patent for an electric toaster. The idea had been kicking around for some time and the toaster went through so many incarnations that even the Toaster Museum doesn't know for sure who truly invented the first electric toaster, but in 1926 the Waters Genter company definitely began selling the Toastmaster 1-A-1, which promised to pop-up automatically when the bread was toasted. 
So why, again after a hundred years or so, hasn't anyone invented an automatic toaster that actually does what it promises to do–that is, toast (both sides of) the bread evenly, consistently, and then pop up after the maillard reaction has worked its carmelizing wonders on the surface of the bread but before carbonization sets in? 
Does your toaster live up to its claims? Do I just keep buying really pathetic excuses for kitchen appliances? I'm ready to go back to tearing off chunks of bread, spearing them with a long stick, and roasting them over an open fire. If nothing else, it would cut back on the amount of slicing I'd have to do.

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5 responses to “Smoldering

  • viki

    I have hated those very problems! Several years ago, Paul bought me a cuisinart toaster and I have not had burned toast since!! Sometimes, the extra $ is worth it.

  • M. Gray

    I always either overcook or undercook my toast because I'm a ditz and forget it's cooking and put it at the wrong setting for the umpteenth time or else I'm ridiculously impatient and hit the eject button because there are 600 other things I need to get on the table…Oh, and don't even get me started on smoke alarms…

  • Kimber

    My thing is–the right setting is never right twice–one time it will pop up perfect, and the next time I've got soot. And who has time to watch toast–come on, that's why we bought the "automatic" toaster in the first place! It's supposed to call us when it's ready for butter.

  • Emjay

    The smoke detector in our kitchen is really, really close to the stove making cooking impossible to do without shrill sounds. A friend suggested putting a shower cap over it when we cook – that does stop it going off. It's important to remember to take the cap off when we've finished cooking though!

  • Kimber

    Smashing it to pieces with a broom handle works, too. I did that one night when the humidifier in my children's room shorted the blasted thing out and it wouldn't turn off, even after I took the batteries out (you realize they hardwire them now, and in a chain, so that in new homes, if one goes off, they all go off, even if your batteries are dead) and I couldn't get it off the ceiling to take it outside. The funny thing was, I'm the only one who woke up–not my husband, not the kids. Not to the alarm, not to the vandalism. Snoring. The next morning none of them had a clue what had happened!

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