A Toast to the Toaster! - Baltimore Museum of Art

A Toast to the Toaster! - Baltimore Museum of Art
MARCH 2017
A Toast to the Toaster!
for TEACHERS & STUDENTS
Toastmaster Toaster
Drop a slice of bread into the slot, push the lever down, wait a few minutes,
and POP! Your warm toast jumps up, ready for butter and jam. In the late
1920s and early 1930s, the automatic pop-up toaster was a marvel.
Earlier electric toasters required a lot of attention. Slices of bread were
carefully placed in a wire rack, then dutifully watched and turned over
to toast the other side. Red-hot heating elements were often exposed.
Fingertips were burned. Countless pieces of blackened toast were thrown
away. Suddenly magazine and newspaper ads hailed the new Toastmaster
Toaster as an amazing time-saver for the kitchen. “No waiting! No watching! No turning! No burning!” “Whole operation in one lever!”
VISIT THE BMA
and see Toastmaster
Toaster in the Imagining
Home exhibition.
Encased in shiny chrome, with decorative fluting on each side and plastic
handles that stayed cool to the touch, the Toastmaster Toaster was the
image of modernism. Its novelty depended on a spring-loaded timing
mechanism inside that turned the electric current on as soon as the lever
was pushed down and then shut down automatically when toasting was
complete, causing the bread to pop into view. Ads promised that the timer
would make it “impossible to spoil a slice of toast. Not merely difficult—
impossible!” Users could simply turn a knob to ensure that their breakfast
toast would be as light or dark as they wished.
First marketed in 1926, the automatic pop-up toaster was not an immediate success. However, after the mechanical bread slicer was invented
in 1928, pre-packaged bread became available and Toastmaster sales
soared. By the mid-1950s, the company’s 1,200 factory employees were
testing their product by toasting a ton of sliced bread every day.
CHALLENGE FOR STUDENTS
Toastmaster Toaster. Waters-Genter Company
(American). c. 1932. Chrome-plated steel,
plastic. 7 x 9 x 6¼ inches. The Baltimore
Museum of Art: Gift of Gail G. Markley,
Columbia, Maryland, in Memory of her Mother,
Margaret Conolley Gotsch, BMA 2002.595
To comment or register
for Art-To-Go, email
Lwilson@artbma.org
Study an ad for the 1932 Toastmaster Toaster. Then write an ad for a 2017
appliance or device that you would like to invent. Draw a picture of it and
explain what it can do to make life better or easier. bit.ly/2lPTBtr
Trace the evolution of toasters from early manual models to contemporary
designs that use heat to imprint pictures or messages on slices of bread.
bit.ly/2lkHaST and bit.ly/2mH92BU
Take a look at an amazing assortment of toasters from 1900–2000 in
an online “Toaster Museum.” bit.ly/2lPWydC
For visitor information:
artbma.org
PRINT THE IMAGE ON PAGE 2 FOR YOUR STUDENTS.
Toastmaster Toaster
Waters-Genter Company (American). c. 1932. Chrome-plated steel, plastic. 7 x 9 x 6¼ inches. The Baltimore Museum
of Art: Gift of Gail G. Markley, Columbia, Maryland, in Memory of her Mother, Margaret Conolley Gotsch, BMA 2002.595
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