How strongly do people feel about a good piece of toast?
When my mom’s old toaster started to misbehave, this normally very easily pleased woman declared she wanted to replace it with the best toaster money could buy. She wanted same model as that used by the Queen of England, Herself. (For the royalty junkies among you, this is rumored to be the Dualit 2-Slice Toaster.)
Local shopping access ruled the day (my folks are not big Amazon users), and she ended up with a KRUPS 2-Slice Toaster instead, but the point of my story is this: if bread is the staff of life, buying the right toaster to carmelize your daily dose is a non-trivial affair.
That’s why, when our own toaster unceremoniously gave up the ghost, we consulted not one but two culinary oracles for their excellent toaster reviews: Cook’s Illustrated and Consumer Reports. Both provided excellent information, and for our search for the best toaster, the cross-referencing of both perspectives proved to be most enlightening.
Mmmmm…. toast. (I’m just showing you this to keep you emotionally focused on the subject at hand. There is some actual information and helpful links coming, and I don’t want you to drift on me.) Beyond the usual considerations of price, reliability, ease of use, versatility, etc., there is apparently a LOT that goes into consistently producing an evenly browned hunk o’ bread, and most of it has to do with the heating elements: what they’re made of, how many there are, and where they’re placed. Nichrome wires are commonly used, and according to Cook’s, using more of them, evenly spaced, is a key success factor. The other heating element material sometimes used is quartz, and that turned out to be what is used in their top recommendation (and our new toaster!), the Magimix Colored Vision Toaster.
I’m just glad that the Cook’s top pick didn’t use platinum for its heating elements, ’cause given what we were willing to pay for a really good toaster, I’m pretty sure we’d have coughed up whatever they asked. Apparently I have inherited the “good toast is not an extravagance: it’s a British Commonwealth birthright” gene.
Consumer Reports also included the Magimix toaster in their top three, right behind their top choice, the Calphalon 2 Slot Stainless Steel Toaster, and their second choice, the Cuisinart CPT-420 Touch to Toast Leverless 2-Slice Toaster
In fourth place but ranked as their “Best Buy,” Consumer Reports toasters listed the Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster.
At around $25, this really is a good buy, and as of this writing, it’s the #1 best seller toaster on Amazon. However, for our toaster money–and admittedly, the Magimix commands a fair whack of it–we wanted the Rolls Royce. For something that lives 24/7 on our countertop, we wanted a FINE looking piece of industrial design that would last at least until the 2034 Cook’s and Consumer’s recommendations come out. Plus, I’m a sucker for anything red in my kitchen.
It’s easy to decode the five simple option buttons (even after you’ve gone through an international move and lost track of the manual): you can choose how dark you want your toast, toast bread or bagels, reheat previously toasted toast, toast frozen bread, or stop toasting if you see your toast is, um, toast. I’d like to raise a toast to the English language: Prost! (It rhymes with “toast.”)
And speaking of Anglo-ish things, want to know what came in as Cook Illustrated’s second place toaster recommendation, “… with reservations?”
The Dualit 2-Slice Toaster. Ha! Sorry, Ma’am.