In search of a piece of toast


By Janice Lindsay, Contributing Writer

Janice Lindsay writes about her toaster's inability to make toast.
Janice Lindsay

Hopeful Consumer Lady needed a new toaster. She thought this would be easy.

She splurged for a nifty-sounding high-tech model from a reliable catalogue company. Expensive, but it promised “perfect toast.”

This toaster had a defrost cycle, a special mechanism for toasting bagels, a lever to lift the toasting grid when the toast was done, a warming tray, a slide-out crumb tray, etc.

There was only one thing this toaster couldn’t do: Make toast.

If the top of the bread toasted well, the bottom remained raw. If the bottom browned, the top blackened.

Hopeful Consumer Lady phoned Toaster Customer Service. Eric explained that bread varies in thickness and toastability. Whole grain toasts differently from white. As frozen bread thaws in the toaster, condensation sinks toward the bottom, so the bottom takes longer. This high-tech toaster was calibrated for never-frozen, commercial white bread, except not for a specific popular brand that is often heavier at the bottom. Hopeful Consumer Lady speculated that Eric might be a few slices short of a loaf.

She tried toasting again: whole grain, white; homemade, store-bought; never frozen, frozen bread that she lay flat to thaw; frozen bread thawed vertically that she toasted upside down to test the condensation theory; bread toasted half-way, then flipped to toast the other half. The result: not even middling toast, never mind perfect toast.

She wrestled the toaster into its original box and shipped it to Toaster Repair. 

Three weeks later, she phoned Toaster Repair. They didn’t possess the necessary parts. Toaster Company would send her a new toaster.

Two weeks after that, she was thrilled to receive a carton from Toaster Company, labeled “warranty replacement.” Inside, was a brand new, shiny, programmable, 1,100-watt, 12-cup coffee machine. 

Hopeful Consumer Lady thought, “I have cooked with many appliances, but I don’t think I can figure out how to make toast with a coffee machine.”

She phoned Toaster Customer Service. Oh, dear, they would ship her a new toaster right away, plus postage to return the coffee machine.

The new toaster arrived. It looked just like the first one. Acted like it, too.

With the replacement toaster, she made a sample piece of toast, with store-bought white bread, at the medium setting; or rather, she made a piece of untoast. Once the toaster had cooled, she made another piece at the high setting; the unscathed bottom crust contrasted smartly with the charcoal top. She slid each piece into a sandwich bag, packed the bags in bubble wrap inside a sturdy carton, and mailed them to Toaster Company.

With the toast, she enclosed a letter that said, in part, “Could you please send me a toaster that works? Or just tell me that you can’t provide me with a decent piece of toast. I’ll sell the coffee machine to whoever will take the toaster off my hands and buy a $25 toaster at the hardware store.” 

Hopeful Consumer Lady did not hear from Toaster Company again, though she received the return postage for the coffee machine.

But she heard from a helpful Customer Service lady at the original catalogue company, to whom she had sent a copy of her letter (without toast, but with a photo of the toast). Customer Service Lady said she would phone Toaster Company and see what they would do for Hopeful Consumer Lady. She phoned back a few minutes later with instructions for returning the toaster directly to the catalogue company, which would refund both the purchase price and the shipping cost. 

Hopeful, and now Grateful, Consumer Lady bought a $25 toaster at the hardware store. It does only one thing: Make toast. Perfect toast.




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