Is There Anything More Frustrating Than Dialing In A New Toaster? No, There Isn't, And Here's Why

Toasters aren’t something you have to buy very often. I’d wager that if you had to recount where you got your toaster, you couldn’t do it.

Many people get them as wedding gifts from a relative who isn’t very creative when it comes to gift-giving. Still, it’s practical so you don’t hold a grudge.

Some would be fairly certain that they won theirs in an arcade at the Jersey Shore. Others would be fairly certain that the toaster came with the house.

Like a loyal dog, that toaster will live with you for its entire life. It will stay with you until the tearful day it needs to be put down. You'll wipe away a tear thinking of all the good times you had together toasting various breads.

Then, you unceremoniously huck it in the dumpster and it’s time to find a new breakfast-making partner.

Anyone who has gotten a new dog knows how stressful the puppy stage can be, and the earliest phase of getting a new toaster may be shorter, but it could also be way more frustrating. 

If you thought crate training or housebreaking your pup was tough, try finding the sweet spot on a new toaster.

My girlfriend and I recently moved into a new apartment. During the move, I realized we needed a new toaster. 

And I needed it in a hurry.

You see, I had a pair of avocados that were in that window when you need to eat them. When they’re between being greenish-purple rocks and black, rancid mush that you have to handle with a hazmat suit. 

They were asking to be slapped on some toast and doused with lemon juice for a delicious breakfast of avocado toast, a food beloved by insufferable millennials the world over.

But alas, I was without a toaster.

Can A Guy Just Get A Toaster That Toasts Bread?

Given the urgency of this situation (remember those in-their-prime avocados?), I needed my toaster as soon as I could get my hands on it.

So, instead of grabbing my phone, tapping my way to Jeffy B’s Amazon emporium, and having one of their delivery people haphazardly dump the crushed and mangled box at my door two days later, I went old-school and drove to Target.

After arriving, I mosied back to the small appliances section. There, an array of blenders, coffee machines, snow cone machines, Margaritaville-brand margarita machines (i.e. a snow cone machine for adults), and of course, a wall of toasters, greeted me.

Now, for a device with a goal so simple — to toast bread, with the biggest curveball it’ll need to hit being the occasional bagel — there are way too many bells and whistles for toasters. I didn’t need a toaster with enough slots to toast bread for an entire army barracks with the press of a button. It didn’t have to text me when my toast was done or burn my favorite team’s logo into the surface of a slice of Pepperidge Farm whole grain.

I just need something that could quickly cook the outside of bread.

For this reason, I got the cheapest, simplest option I could find — a Target-brand two-slicer — because I am a man of the people and just needed this puppy to toast two slices of bread at a time. Sure, there could be occasions where my girlfriend and I would need to take turns, but I looked at it as an experience that would strengthen our relationship and/or bank some brownie points.

“No, you go ahead. I can wait for my toast… my eggs will just be cold, but it’s okay… just keep this moment in mind when I want to buy another guitar…”

Trial-And-Error (Emphasis On "Error")

I cradled our new toaster under one arm like a careless running back and shuttled it back to the apartment. I savored this drive home, knowing that when I arrived, I would have to begin the arduous process of dialing in this new toaster. A task that it if attempted while not in the right headspace, could lead to one questioning their sanity or throwing up their hands in frustration and just grabbing breakfast at Wendy's (again).

This is a maddening, trial-and-error exercise that part of me still thinks is a conspiracy between toaster manufacturers and the primary players in the Big Bread industry, like Sarah Lee and Wonder Bread. 

You will burn your first slice of toast with a new toaster. It’s inevitable.

The only certain things in life: death, taxes, and ruining the inaugural slice in a new toaster.

Every toaster has a dial on it that you use to ramp up the level of toasting. That’s all well and good, but the scale on this knob never makes any sense. It’ll be 1 to 10, maybe 1 to 5, or a series of dots that increase in size or number. Sometimes it’s something that looks like a volume knob.

No matter how this information is presented, the problem is the same: it doesn’t tell you what this scale means. I like my toast to be a nice, even, darkish brown. So does that mean I want to set my toaster to 5? To 8? Maybe I need the three dots setting? Do I leave it at zero or do I need to dime that thing and hope for the best?

No one knows, and no one will tell you. That leaves you with one option: to fly blind.

Death, Taxes, And A Scorched Maiden Toast

I threw the maiden slice into the toaster and set the knob to noon knowing somehow this meant it would either come out looking like a charcoal briquette or like I had set it out in the sun for five minutes.

In my case, it came out barely warm. This meant that I had to put the slice in a second time. Doing this is the toasting equivalent of hitting on 17. You’re really pressing your luck, and things can go south in a hurry.

This is where a lot of people mess up. An outcome like this on the first toast doesn’t mean you should turn up the toasting power. The only thing I know about the toasting scale is that, like decibels, it seems to increase exponentially. So, starting at two and turning it up to four doesn’t make it twice as toasted.

Instead, it’s the difference between trying to toast your bread with a hair dryer and throwing it in an active volcano.

You see, when you go for the re-toast the coils are already heated which means you’re going to get more toasting sooner than you realize. It can and will get away from you if you’re not paying attention.

I’ll put it to you this way: I hit on 17 and was dealt a Queen.

I threw that slice in the garbage because it was about as edible as a coaster and tried again.

Nothing Has A Lower First-Try Batting Average Than Toasters

Is there anything with a worse success rate on a first attempt than a toaster? Maybe plugging in a USB cable or pulling the correct chain on a ceiling fan. Those two are low, but the first toasting is always zero.

Why haven’t toasters been standardized so that when you get a new one you don’t waste several mornings of your life trying to fine-tune it? 

Once you finally get that thing in the Goldilocks zone, you should pull off the knob. You want your settings to remain pristine. If you have a guest who wants their toast darker or toasted less, they’ll have to pop it in again or prematurely eject their slices of Sunbeam. 

The last thing you want is them touching the knob because you will forget where you had it set, and this whole moronic dance starts again.

If that’s too much to ask, then your house needs to be a BYOT (Bring Your Own Toaster) Zone.

I'm a few weeks into breaking in this new toaster, and I think I'm starting to get it dialed in for bread (I'm going to need a cool-down period before I figure out how this bad boy handles a bagel).

Fortunately, this is a wild inconvenience you only need to go through a few times in your life. Like renewing your passport, having your teeth drilled, or jury duty.

After that, it's smooth toasting until your new toaster crosses that rainbow ridge into the dumpster behind your apartment building.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by
Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.