All Hail the Small but Mighty Toaster

Illustration Credit:  David Sparshott

Illustration Credit: David Sparshott

Minnesota has its fair share of boast-worthy creations; an absurdly large shopping mall, an absurdly large pit mine, and Prince (an absurdly large sense of self). Some of our lesser-known exports though include the stapler, post-it notes, Tonka trucks, rollerblades, the snowmobile, the Milky Way candy bar, rice cakes, and Wheaties (the breakfast of innovative champions!). But if there is one invention that deserves recognition over all of these it is the toaster. Yes, that magical machine that asks only for bread but in return has given humanity easy, consistent, and ready access to toast. In 1921 Charles Strite of Minneapolis, Minnesota received patent #1,394,450 for his invention of the pop-up bread toaster and breakfast, butter, jams, and sandwiches have never been the same. I dare say it might be one of the best things since its necessity breeding mother of invention, sliced bread.

The bread slicing machine wasn’t patented until 1928 (#1,867,377) by Otto Frederick Rehwedder of Davenport, Iowa. There was a prototype built in 1912 but it was destroyed in a fire. Needless to say, sliced bread existed before the bread slicer and toast before the pop-up toaster but never had the two been brought so near to the common plate.