Choosing A New Toaster – Need Help!

long slot toaster

Behold our beloved old toaster.

 

“Beloved.” Not an adjective I’d have used until about a week ago, when I started trying to find another one like it.

As even the blurry photo shows, age has cracked the top and dulled the plastic, so although it’s still fully functional it isn’t exactly a thing of beauty. Never was. But it’s not exactly ugly, either. And more to the point, it’s very well designed.

 

The case is only 4” wide, 6.5 ” tall and 13.5 ” long. The slot has plenty of room for two large pieces of toast. There’s a lever to lower and raise the bread and an accurate dial for doneness control. A good sized door on the bottom makes it easy to remove not only crumbs but also larger items like errant raisins and broken-off pieces of pound cake.

In other words: it doesn’t eat the counter; it’s not warted with dirt catching extra protuberances; it doesn’t have a sliding cleanout drawer that will stall if confronted with lumps, and being neither black nor stainless, it doesn’t show fingerprints.

We bought it about a decade ago for 20 or maybe 30 dollars, at Kmart or Sears or some similarly not-fancy place. It was not then nor is it now a fancy toaster.

What is does appear to be is irreplaceable.

I have been looking – in person at Best Buy, Target and Sears, online everywhere I could think of including but far from limited to: Amazon, Ebay, Bed,Bath and Beyond, Hammacher-Schlemmer and The Museum of Modern Art – utterly without success unless you count the $214.00 Alessi , which on top of the expense and the pretentiousness gets mediocre reviews for actual toasting ability.

It’s clear at this point that space saving horizontal designs are not popular with mainstream toaster makers. The salesman at Sears had no idea that such a thing even existed. While there are several “long slot” options, there aren’t many compared with box models, and although they’re horizontal they’re not notably space saving; all of them are big and clunky compared to the incumbent Maxim Microchip.

I looked for that, too, needless to say. Possibly still available in Australia. I confess I didn’t follow the links.

This is obviously a rant, but it really is also a call for help. Any and all leads most welcome. Just so you know before you write, I’m already far too familiar with Cuisinart, Breville, Hamilton Beach, DeLonghi, West Bend, Waring, and Frigidaire.

There’s one from a company called Cloer that’s reasonable in the size department, but the few detailed reviews were so scathing – and the brand so rare – it seemed unwise to gamble.

Desperation has led me to ignore decidedly mixed reviews and order the 4-slice Tfal. It’s the closest in size to the Maxim and reasonably inexpensive, so I won’t be heartbroken if the negative reviewers had it right or if – far better!!! – one of you helpful readers please oh please comes up with something nifty that I’ve overlooked.

yellow and purple orchid

This is just for pretty, on the theory that if you’ve read this far with nothing to look at but a used toaster you deserve some eye candy. There will be more about plants seen in Florida, one of these days.

 

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25 Comments »

  • Terri Ashby Said,

    I am a fan of Kitchenaid products. They cost way more here in the UK than you pay in the US but I think they’re worth it. Touching wood rapidly as I’m tempting fate, I’ve never had a moments trouble. Our toaster is over 8 years old now as looks like new, it’s heavy cast metal and build like a brick outhouse! We also bought drop in metal baskets for toasted sarnies. I had a look on KAs website and the design seems to have changed a little since we bought ours but still has manual toast droppper down and lifter upper and doneness dial.

    We also have 15 yr old deck mixer which I love to pieces and use daily plus newer food precessor and liquidiser.

    I used to have a kenwood food processor but it died some months ago after at least 25 years regular use. I used to curse how heavy it was but, like your toaster, it was a nightmare to replace. Everything seems to be made by the same factory in China and is so tacky. Down to a price rather than up to a standard :(

    Terri, I have a Kitchenaid mixer I like pretty well, and would have been happy to consider a long slice KA toaster – if they made one. Unfortunately, they don’t, at least not in the US. Thanks for “everything down to a price rather than up to a standard.” A great way to put something we all see over and over. I intend to steal it and use it frequently!

  • No suggestions but I definitely feel your pain on losing a beloved appliance — we’re currently going through a difficult period adjusting to a new coffee grinder after replacing our 20+-year-old Braun coffee grinder because the lid is starting to break down. It seems they’re no longer being manufactured, and we almost resorted to larceny when we found that friends still had a working one… on top of which I’m still getting over the fact that I can’t replace my beloved Russell Hobbs tea kettle. Btw — just saw the utterly inspiring Lois Dodd retrospective in Portland, and couldn’t help but think of your wonderful photo in January of Lois in her studio with her painting of cow parsnips — thank-you!

    So happy to hear you got to see (and enjoy!) Lois’ show. Sorry of course about the coffee grinder and tea kettle. The latter at least does seem to be a likely ebay item, but I suppose you’ve tried…

  • Rebecca Mitchell Said,

    Any object that is in daily use and works is worthy of our love. At our house we love our old toasters — my parents’ circa 1932 one slice Toastmaster with chrome you don’t see anymore and our 1920s GE
    “Carlisle.” The latter, a lucky find at a house sale, is a two slice model, but you have to flip it. Both make toast the way we like it – a bit of crunch on the outside but yielding on the inside.
    And “tomato,” I too mourn the loss of Russell Hobbs electric kettles.
    Leslie, if you decide to go the DIY route check out The Toaster Project, the story of a British Design student who set out to make a toaster “from scratch.”

    Wow Rebecca – what a lot of neat looking up you’ve suggested – it’s no wonder the internet makes it difficult to get things done!

    Your vintage toasters sound super neat (and I’m guessing will be viewable at the Toaster Museum, a site I try to stay away from). Before the Maxim we were using a 30’s era Sunbeam with chrome and Bakelite to die for that was just right for our deco-ish kitchen. It worked pretty well, until it didn’t and we discovered it would cost very many dollars to have it fixed. I hung on to it forever before admitting I’d never get it repaired, at which point it went to the helpful seller we call “the Ebay lady.” She takes things on consignment and a large share of the resultant sales price, but she does EVERYTHING required, including coming to our house to pick up whatever. Very satisfying arrangement.

    As for The Toaster Project – from what I can see, it looks terrific. But as the young man behind it has created a website that scrolls sideways I haven’t seen much yet. Being antediluvian, I still work mostly on a monitor that does not have a touch screen. Maybe at lunch I’ll haul out the iPad…

  • Leslie, can’t help with the toaster, but the plant porn is wonderful! :-)

  • deb Said,

    we love our dualit toaster: 2 or 4 openings…
    we have the 2 slot toaster. it’s a war
    horse! nearly 11 years old and problem-
    free!

  • Dana Said,

    I just saw this one on Zappos… dont know why it was on that website, not a place I would look!
    Anyway it reminded me of your old faithful.
    http://www.zappos.com/cuisinart-cpt-2000-2-slice-extruded-long-slot-toaster

    Thanks, Dana,

    And not just for your thoughtfulness – turns out you’ve illustrated one of the pitfalls of internet buying. I clicked on your link to Zappos (aka shoes to me, too), where this model was described as 4.5 inches wide. Almost the same as the old one! But I knew I’d seen it in person and on Amazon and rejected it – why??? So I copied, pasted and searched Amazon. There, the exact same toaster is 6.5 inches wide, and in my shopping memory it’s similarly heftier in other respects. A reminder to – in future – double check items of this sort at the manufacturer’s site (though I’m not sure those will be all that reliable either). One would think a dimension is measurable in a way toast-browning might not be, but evidently…

  • Lynn Said,

    My rant is about all the damn beeping my new appliances do. 3 long piercing beeps when the coffee is ready (Mr Coffee flat basket is a nice red) and 3 more when the 2 hour time limit is up. 6 beeps when the microwave is done. Oh and the refrigerator, freezer on the bottom, has some noise almost continuously because it needs a fan to get the coolness from the bottom into the top. So infuriating that sometimes I turn it off and don’t always remember to turn it back on when I should.
    No toaster advice as have gone the toaster oven route. Sits on top of the microwave in a little nook. Good for reheating pizza and roasting broccoli as well as good toast.
    Microwave used mostly for rice. Never burns! Also beets and winter squash.

    Wow, Lynn, am I ever with you on the beeping! to say nothing of the effing 60 cycle hum put out by so many electronic gadgets. And just try to get a seller to tell you whether whatever device does or doesn’t emit one. Ambient domestic noise is worthy of its own rant, no doubt about it, at least for some of us. Most of my friends don’t even notice, but for me these irritations are almost equal to yapping dogs, leaf blowers and other such more commonly excoriated intrusions.

    No room for a toaster oven on our counter, but thanks for the tips about the micro. I’ve had good luck with squash but gave up on beets after many tries (found it was too likely to overcook/turn them fibrous if I didn’t pay close attention). My most recent adventure in the never-burning rice department was making polenta. Enthusiasts reported: no stirring!, which was certainly a sell. Not true, of course, you do have to stir every couple of minutes. But it does produce a nice consistency with far less danger of lumps while providing a little more freedom for the cook. On the down side: beeps each time the “couple of minutes” has almost elapsed, followed by additional beeps when elapse is complete, but I suppose nothing is free.

    • Lynn Said,

      So glad someone gets it about the noise issue! Seriously, if there was some way to trade in this fridge… Nothing is plugged in the showrooms making it impossible to gauge. Next time I might take an extension cord and audition the appliance.

      I make an effort to get the micro before the cycle is done. Unfortunately I can not convince my husband that that is a worthy effort.

      I will look up more on the polenta! Thanks! I bet the bowl is easy to clean as an added bonus. Have you done risotto that way?

      Beets I put unpeeled on a plate. The tiny ones I just made were overcooked though. They were very small. Should have eaten them raw before they got too old!

      • Lynn Said,

        Fridge is “Whirlpool Gold” just in case anyone is in the market and want to avoid my problem.

        Thanks for calling the thing out by name, Lynn. Very helpful for those who are shopping. Our quite-noisy new fridge is a top freezer Frigidaire Gallery, chosen only because it was the largest that would fit in the built-in space. It’s not as awful as yours, being quiet most of the time, but every now and then it makes a rattling, clunky noise as though it were falling apart. The manual reassuringly says this is perfectly normal, but of course… sigh.

        By the way, the Tfall has arrived. I may write about IT, too. Haven’t yet tried to make toast in it but already know that it beeps when the toast is done… grrrrr

        • Lynn Said,

          That made me laugh. But I was immediately sorry I did.
          You have my sympathies!
          (Did the box mention a beep? We need to make these manufacturers accountable! Does ANYONE like the beeping on all these things. This is one of those things that make me feel as though we going to hell in a handbasket. Sadly, I am not really kidding).

          Of COURSE the box was silent on the beep question. These days (handbasket department) I think it’s just assumed our attention is so fragmented – and our cooking skills so atrophied – we need alerts to tell us when the food is almost done and when the food is done. Beginning to remind me of boarding school, when bells rang to wake us, to tell us it was 10 minutes to breakfast, five minutes to breakfast and breakfast time, then breakfast over, then ten minutes to first class, etc. etc. etc., as the King would say.

          • Lynn Said,

            Wow, I bet those bells at school weren’t at all distracting!

            I think you are giving appliance makers too much credit. I don’t think they consider this at all. I just think they see any additional “feature” as an improvement and you can’t have too many of those.

            Internets turned up this:http://www.petitiononline.com/HelpPANE/petition.html
            a petition to ban beeping! Only 37 signatures!

            “This petition is intended to urge large companies to discontinue the manufacture of beeping functions on various electronics and appliances such as answering machines, microwaves and more. These reminders are known as “message alert”, “alert tone” “cooking complete reminder” and are highly abusive to PETS, and others who are powerless to shut off these functions while at home all day.
            This abuse is hypnotic and does not stand out to the public as a blatantly obvious problem when in fact it IS. The features on these products are a perfect sedative so the companies can inject hurtful ideas and thoughts using mass media while the victims are under this beeping spell-an auditory version of Chinese Water Torture.
            (Other products which may have similar features include cell phones, coffee makers and fax machines).”

    • Mary Said,

      Did either of you know about the truly no stir method of polenta making– in the oven? So easy, no lumps, no mess on the cooktop and you can roam freely while it cooks! It does take about an hour though– less I suppose if you want it thinner. Recipe: in an 8 inch square Pyrex baking dish, combine 1 cup polenta grain (I use Bob’s Red Mill as we are both in Oregon); a pinch or more of salt as you wish; and 4-5 cups of water, amount depends on how thick/thin you like the final product. Stir with a finger or spoon to blend. Cook at 350 degrees for about an hour. No need to stir while cooking, ever! Lovely comfort food.

      Welcome Mary,and many thanks for the tip!! Sounds like just my kind of comfort food.

  • sarah Said,

    “Antique ” toasters on ebay, see link below. Some of these are hysterical. There so interesting I’m almost tempted to bid on one myself, but would I risk electricution? The stove top toasters look like some sort of building replica. Candidates for the Toaster Museum! If you scroll way down there are toasting forks, there’s a space saver. Anyway, thought they were good for a laugh, at least. Good luck
    http://www.ebay.com/sch/Toasters-/163018/i.html

    Hi Sarah –
    Welcome to the wonderful world of antique toaster voyeurism. Some of them truly ARE amazing (and truly are in the toaster museum), and in the usual way of ebay, “antique” is the least of it. If you go to “vintage toaster” or “used toaster” (there’s a lot of overlap) you’ll not only see some of these antiques but also well over a thousand – no joke – other offerings from years ago. A few listings warn: Not for Use, Display Only, but in most cases if they say it works it does work. Vexing bit is how few of them were long and horizontal…

    BTW, I have a friend who is still using the flip toaster she bought in the early 50’s, when it was already way out of date. Most of the flip types work very well indeed, if you don’t mind turning the toast yourself and don’t forget to turn it!

  • Hi Leslie,
    I have an antique toaster collection in the barn…the kind of toasters you flip and burn 50 percent of sliced bread beyond recognition! Unless you watch it like a hawk…even have an unusual 3-slice toaster…but the kitchen standby, already many years old, is the high tech but retro-looking Cuisinart metal toaster…it’s never failed us, and I like that it takes bagels, even scones for warm-up. It costs around $60 I think and all my experience with cheaper toasters have ended in divorce.

    I love the old Calvin & Hobbes strip about a toaster where Hobbes shows Calvin how you make toast, and Calvin says something like, “cool, but where did the bread go?”
    – Steve

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for weighing in. Is your collection on display? There are dozens of old style “turn the bread yourself” models on Ebay, many of which look quite cool, so it’s easy to imagine buying them just as art objects. My friend Lois still uses her “flipper” and I use it when I’m staying with her. Makes very good toast, actually, as long as you’re willing to stand there and hover. I did look at some Cuisinarts, btw. They might very well do fine at toasting but all the ones I saw were so large I didn’t pursue.

    • My Cuisinart isn’t big at all; standard size. Looks very traditional.

      • I’ve displayed my collection at the Waldoboro Public Library, years ago…also displayed coffee makers another time.

        This is beginning to be interesting! Do you have other vintage kitchen appliances?

        • Hmmm…I have a gorgeous old Oster blender that I bought in the 1970s for $5 and it still runs wonderfully…use it to make almond butter from whole almonds, use it to make mayonnaise, smoothies, you name it. It’s heavily chromed and has 2 speeds. Seriously, how many do you need?

          I also have a wall-mount coffee grinder that has to be at least a century old, maybe older…still works great and I like things that are human-powered…kids love to crank it.

  • Ken Albala Said,

    Leslie, I wont say I adore it, and since I usually toast homemade bread, the thickness and a million other factors mean you have to really watch the toast to get it just right and not burn. But my red Oster upright is a pretty decent toaster. It’s cute and sits right next to the Oster toaster oven. Which can actually handle a casserole, but doesn’t really make toast.

    Thanks, Ken,

    I did look at the Oster. It’s probably fine, just boxier than I’d prefer. Wish I had room for a toaster oven but alas I don’t – in either house. Happy to say I DO have double oven stoves in both places; those small ovens work pretty well, and I do use them to make toast when quantities of toast are required.

  • Cate Said,

    Leslie – I went through similar throes when my old standard Black and Decker toaster oven died. All new toaster ovens have a timer that ticks loudly (like the old kitchen timers), which drove me up the wall for a long time. My son, in high school at the time, laughed at how much I researched and shopped for the ideal replacement (not too big, not too small, hoping to find a non-ticking product). The one that came closest to what I wanted turned out to be faulty and had to go right back.

    I feel the same way about irons, too. I had one I really liked for years and since it died I’ve had at least two others that haven’t measured up to that one.

    My husband says I’m in a minority wishing that I could replace products with the exact same thing when needed – he claims the rest of the world is always interested in something new. Harumph.

    Welcome Cate,

    to what I guess we might end up calling the harumph brigade. Happy to add your story to those of yet more irritations from the land of small appliances. You may be in a minority, but as you can tell from the other comments here, you’re sure as hell not alone!

  • Karen Puleo Said,

    I had the maxim toaster for 19 years. It was a shower gift when I got married and now I am mourning the loss of it! It was irreplaceable, a true work horse. It never failed to give me the perfect slice of toast. I recently bought a 20 dollar toaster and is the worst toaster I have ever seen. I am just looking for a toaster that will last more than a month now. I want a new maxim please help me find one!

    Welcome to the Maxim-wanters club, Karen – There seem to be a lot of us! Guess it’s just one more example of what-shall-we-call-it? “Non-progress” in the modern machinery department. If it’s any consolation to you, I’ve found no new car comparable to my 1989 Nissan Stanza station wagon and it ain’t for lack of trying. If I could help you find a Maxim I would, and I hope you’ll please help us by writing in if you find one.

  • Karen,
    Cheap toasters are worse than nothing. I’ve had great luck for many years with “Cuisinart Classic Style Electronic” two-slicer, with lift up feature, defrost, and cool retro styling so it looks like the kind I grew up with. Think I paid around $60 bucks, probably more now and totally worth it. Wide enough for bagels or scones, too.
    Steve

  • Bobbie West Said,

    Gee..I feel your pain.I was astounded when my Maxim died that it would NOT be possible to find anything even comparable in size.I live in a teeny house..withan even teenier kitchen..every inch of space has to be negotiated and my toasterwas the perfect fit.I’ve combed resale shops locally,ads on Craigslist,ebay daily and NOTHING is even close to my Maxim.Guess I was just so happy with it that I never noticed that all anyone else builds are the fat chunky styles.I’m now looking for an old style repairman because I won’t give up hope that someone knows how to “revive” my baby.

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