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TOASTERS! Do they become obsolete *that* quickly?!

I've recently found myself in the market for a toaster.... my $10 Wal-Mart special which I bought 15 years ago finally broke.

Things have changed since then... I no longer shop at Wal-Mart, for one. And, I'm willing to pay a little more for a toaster that does a good job, with a functionally elegant design.

Cooks Illustrated's top pick of the Michael Graves Hamilton Beach 4-slice (model 24301) sounds amazing, but it's not available anywhere-- nor is the #2 pick, the Kenmore 4-slice (model 81004).

Testing methodology:
The testers made sure that the light/med/dark settings produced significant and accurate results. They did a "rapid-fire" test to test whether repeated use overcooks toast. Also versatility (ability to handle bagels, waffles, etc. equally well) and lastly testers downgraded models with poorly designed crumb trays. They wanted clear and intuitive controls, deep trays, and slots able to accommodate a variety of foods.

With this in mind, here's their rationale for rating the Hamilton Beach toaster tops:

"This toaster simply outperformed the others, producing evenly golden toast in test after test. The toaster’s carriage held all foods securely and prevented any possibility of items falling through or getting caught. Our sole complaint: This bulky toaster took up more counter space than we’d prefer."

Are there any modern (circa 2010) toaster designs that fit these specifications? Please note, I am definitely NOT in the market for a toaster oven.

Thanks 'hounds

Mr Taster

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  1. Try Amazon they have at least 7 new ones for sale there

    1 Reply
    1. re: kayakado

      Can you provide a link? Every time I search, they're out of the top model, and don't have the second model (Kenmore) listed.

      http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Graves-...

      I'm not just looking to make a random purchase of any toaster. I'm looking for a *GOOD* toaster, which meets the criteria that CI uses to evaluate their models, and I'm looking for guidance from people who have experience with some very good models.

      Mr Taster

    2. Mr. T - how about a toaster oven? When my old toaster died, I replaced it with a Hamilton Beach Toastation. It's got slots on top for use as a regular toaster but you can also use the oven part to toast or heat things up very quickly. And it's red. Love it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: southernitalian

        I looked into toaster ovens but I have very limited counter space (my microwave lives on top of my refrigerator). But even if space weren't an issue, at $200 they're too much... I'd rather just have a really good quality toaster and use my oven for bigger applications.

        Mr Taster

      2. I got a Cuisinart toaster a couple of years ago, a two-slice model (they have four-slice ones as well), and I'm very happy with it. Couldn't tell you the model, as I'm at work.

        1 Reply
        1. re: EWSflash

          We have that Cuisinart as well, and have had it for quite a few years. It is still recommended in this month's Consumer Reports Kitchen Appliance edition. Look on the left and click on cooking appliances.

          http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/in...

        2. Mr Taster: In answer to the subject line, yes.

          We went through the same exercise you are going through three or four years ago when we inadvertently discovered that our toaster at the time was lacking in The Very Most Important Feature -- and then we discovered (to our dismay) that a very high percentage of the toasters then on the market also lacked The Very Most Important Feature, and we had a devil of a time then finding a replacement that did have The Very Most Important Feature. At the time, I made a very extensive write up of our quest and our findings for a private maillist to which I subscribe, which I would re-post here but for the fact that it would be worthless because not one of the toaster models listed is still on the market today.

          Mr Taster: "Cooks Illustrated's top pick ... The testers made sure that the light/med/dark settings produced significant and accurate results." That is of secondary, not primary, importance.

          Mr Taster: ""This toaster simply outperformed the others, producing evenly golden toast in test after test." That is of secondary, not primary, importance.

          Here is The Very Most Important Feature: is the heating element shut-off mechanism separate and independent of the toaster's pop-up mechanism? Astonishingly, UL certification is possible for toasters lacking that feature, which I find incomprehensible. Sooner or later, some piece of toast or bagel half or whatever you are toasting will lean over to the side and get caught, preventing the toast from popping up. If, when that happens, the heating elements remain in toasting mode, it is only a matter of time before you have a fire.

          Toasters differ in how the element shut-off command is communicated. When we were looking at toasters, we found that some shut off the element with the same electronic command as the electronic command that told the toast holder to pop up; that is superior to toasters that rely on the mechanical action of the toaster carriage popping up itself to trigger the element shut off. But it is inferior to independent commands shutting off the element and popping up the toast, because in some cases, the elements will stay on if what gets blocked is not the toast carriage itself but just the little trigger that releases the spring for pop-up. In testing (we needed to find cooperative shopkeepers -- we could not do it at Target or Wal-Mart, obviously), we found out that if we prevented a test piece of "toast" from popping up at all (by physically holding it down), most toasters -- and 100 percent of Chinese made toasters (at that time) -- would just keep on toasting, heating elements on.

          (FWIW, we purchased a Toastmaster "Global Design" model 1046U, which is simply wonderful -- but you probably would have a hard time getting one today because, of course, the model has been discontinued. The closest current equivalent, a $40 toaster, is the Bosch TAT4620UC: http://www.electronicsbonanza.com/com... (The Toastmaster 1046U was made in Germany by Siemens, and Bosch and Siemens are joined at the hip.) But if we needed to replace our toaster today, which fortunately we do not, we might even go triple that price for this one: http://www.thegourmetdepotco.com/stor... for its all-stainless steel build quality, though I cannot imagine when we might need to toast four slices of toast at once. )

          4 Replies
          1. re: Politeness

            What a great post, Politeness! Would never have thought about the safety feature. (Though DH threw a flaming toaster oven out of our 2 story window to the snow covered ground below one time. That makes for an exciting breakfast!) Can't advise on which toaster, but after my last toaster oven failed, I only buy from stores with an impeccable record for accepting returns. Prices on appliances don't seem to vary much anyway. I go to WS or Sur la Table. Love my high end Delongi toaster oven, because 1. I don't use a microwave, so use it for reheating 2. Fits a lot, without heating up the whole house. 3. gives me a second "half" oven when entertaining. However, the one frustrating thing to cook is toast, the settings either cook it a hair too soft or too hard for my taste. (no adjustable dial, 16 electronic timer settings) Will follow this thread, it will make DH very happy to get a simple, functional (non flaming) toaster oven for Father's day!

            1. re: Politeness

              Yep, my mother once put bread in the toaster and then spaced out and went to take a shower. The bread got stuck, heating element didn't turn off, she wandered on out later and the cabinet above was on fire.

              Even with the safety features of modern toasters in place, I make damn sure that everybody in the house knows to pull the toaster out clear of the cabinet it's under before using it.

              1. re: Politeness

                "http://www.thegourmetdepotco.com/stor... for its all-stainless steel build quality, though I cannot imagine when we might need to toast four slices of toast at once. )"

                There are just two of us here and I thought the same thing so bought a two slice Dualit toaster. Every time we have English muffins I'm sorry because I need to toast them in tandem or crank on the oven broiler.

                1. re: Politeness

                  As someone who melted the under cabinet light fixture when our toaster didn't turn off, I can attest that this feature is REALLY important! We no longer have our toaster under anything at all as a precaution, but I could see it easily starting a fire even without overhead cabinetry.

                2. Amazon does have in stock the Cook's Illustrated 3rd and 4th
                  place recommended toasters. The Oster 6330 Inspire 4-Slice Toaster
                  and the Cuisinart CPT-140 Electronic Cool Touch 4-Slice Toaster.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Antilope

                    I know, but who wants to settle for 3rd or 4th place? :)

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      Anyone that would settle for a 3rd or 4th place toaster, would probably make toast from a 79¢ loaf of bargain bread. ;-)

                      1. re: Antilope

                        Recently, I have successfully researched and purchased cars, trucks, tractors, plasma TVs, counter top mixers, garden shears, pool pumps, chainsaws, and outboard motors (just to name a handful). I have NEVER been so frustrated as trying to find a quick, even toasting, reliable toaster (regardless of cost).

                        My conclusion is the manufacturers of such a simple, one task device are complete tools.

                        My purchases today : a Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL and a Krups Toaster TT9340 (with no digital display, no count down timer, no beeper, and no fancy options buttons). My fingers are crossed...

                        1. re: PoppiYYZ

                          2 slice toaster winners from late 2010

                          Kalorik Aqua 2-Slice Toaster - model TO20621 (no complaints, makes toast in 2.5 minutes)

                          Cuisinart Countdown Metal 2-Slice Toaster - TO20621 CPT-170 (toasts fast but outside gets hot, toasted evenly when both slots used, but not when single slice toasted)

                          Black & Decker 2-Slice Toaster - model T2707S (takes longer to toast than others, at maximum darkness setting it only produced golden toast)

                          1. re: Antilope

                            2008 4 slice winners

                            Kenmore 4-Slice toaster - Model# 135401 (slight color difference between sides of toast, but not really an issue)

                            Oster Inspire 4-Slice Brushed Stainless Steel Toaster - model 6330 (2 long slots difficult to fit in 4 slices of bread, which way does bagel face?)

                            Cuisinart Electronic Cool-Touch 4-Slice Toaster - model CPT-140 (slight difference between sides of toast, which way does bagel face?)

                            Black & Decker 4-Slice Toaster- model 4560B (slight difference between sides of toast)

                            1. re: Antilope

                              Just as an example, read the less than "glowing" reviews on amazon for the Aqua. Even some of the five star reviewers seem to be more interested in the look and only mention toast as a passing comment.

                              http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000TUPJNY/r...

                              1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                Maybe a 2 slice toaster needs all the heating elements from a 4 slice toaster wound into the area for the 2 slices. Since a 4 slice toaster at full power (Scotty we need more power!) doesn't overload a 15 amp kitchen circuit, putting all of 4 slicer heating elements in a 2 slicer might do the trick. If you look into the slots of most toasters, they have maybe 3 or 4 passes of the heating wire for each side of the bread. 6 or 8 on each side might do the trick.

                                I wonder if UL would pass it if you re-wound the elements for your own toaster? ;-)

                    2. I've gotten fed up with all the shabby, shoddy, rapidly malfunctioning toasters out there, and have found myself a mint condition, 1950 Toastmaster toaster and gone back to basics. It's shiny, it's sturdy, t's retro, it's reliable and it cost about $4.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Beckyleach

                        Good for you. That retro look is so cool.

                        Just make sure you pull it clear of any low-hanging cabinetry before you fire it up (see my post above).

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          Yeah, it gets HOT. But the cord is mint (and incredibly long; they used to like to set their small appliances ON the kitchen dinette, for ease of access. I keep getting visions of Jr. racing around in his Davy Crockett cap, snagging the cord and sending burning hot waffle irons and toasters flying!) and I never leave the room while it is toasting. (and there's a fire extinguisher next to the stove! )

                        2. re: Beckyleach

                          Beckyleach: "have found myself a mint condition, 1950 Toastmaster toaster ..." The Toastmaster IB14 model, introduced in 1947, continued in the line until 1961, and for ten of those years was the best-selling appliance in America. Over seven million IB14 toasters were sold during that time.

                          1. re: Politeness

                            And I can see why! By the way, there is a website out there somewhere that lists all the serial numbers of the zillions of models produced, which is how I found out the year mine was made. It's the same age as my husband, and just as reliable and with the same ageless good looks. ;-)

                            1. re: Beckyleach

                              I had a toaster that was destroyed and now would like to know what it's model number was...do you remember the website that you used and were there pictures that would help me identify my toaster?

                              1. re: mellowm

                                Oh, ack. Cannot find it. Shoulda saved it. BUT this is a good starting place for you to do what I did: follow link after link till I ended up....where?

                                Sorry! http://www.toaster.org/links.html

                                1. re: Beckyleach

                                  No, wait! Success! Change my search terms one more time and found it:
                                  http://www.toaster.org/tmaster_when.html

                                  1. re: Beckyleach

                                    I did find that but my toaster was likely manufactured after 2000 and I did not see anything listed beyond that. Thanks, anyway!

                                    1. re: mellowm

                                      Can you put toaster into google images and get a glass of wine and just scroll through and see if anything looks familiar?

                          2. re: Beckyleach

                            Hi all,

                            Came across this thread when looking at a more recent one. The toaster Becky is talking about is the same one I have. They're wonderful!

                            I pick them up whenever I see them. Might stop now, though, since I have two back-ups... LOL

                            So check thrift stores, garage sales, etc. Of course plug it in to be sure it works. It most likely will. These things are very well made.

                            Here's a link to a website with lots and lots of info on old toasters. If you scroll down, you'll see Becky's and my toasters.

                            http://www.toastercentral.com/toaster...

                            Lucy

                            A tip... Turtle Wax Polishing Compound (from the auto supply store) does a great job shining up the chrome.

                          3. Earlier this year I went through toaster he77. My very cheap walmart toaster totally died.My daughter told me to just get another cheap toaster because they were all the same. I went through 2 more different ones from WM that 1) only toasted one of the two slices of bread, and 2) only toasted one side of the bread. Then one from Target. That one only burned the toast on the lowest setting. Finally bought one at Best Buy. I kept this one - but it too only toasts one side of the bread, so I have it set on low, then reinsert the almost-toast, and let it toast for a little bit more - not a full cycle. All I wanted was a lousy toaster, for goodness sakes. Complete frustration. And the darned thing can only accommodate cheap small slice bread.

                            1. My current toaster burned in a kitchen fire recently and I decided to replace it with the same toaster. I found one in mint condition on eBay. It is the Sunbeam AT-W and has been working (my old one) since the 60's. It is made so well, it automatically lowers the bread, toasts it and raises it. It is not based on time, but on a radiant eye which reads the reflection off the toast and toasts to your set doneness. If you forget to grab your toast when done, you can just put it down again, and it will automatically reheat it, without over toasting it. It is extremely simple, well made, and looks really cool on the counter. My parents have theirs still from the 50's and it works fine (slightly different design, but same overall concept, body, etc.) If you are willing to search eBay, you can pick one up for around $25 to $50, just make sure they show pictures of toast it produces and say it works fine. If working, they last forever.

                              On another note; I saw a really cool looking toaster at williams of sonoma this weekend, definately a piece of art for the counter, it is Magimix Vision with glass sides to view the toast as it toasts, pretty cool but $300. I have always wanted a Dualit because they are built like tanks and should also last forever but also expensive..

                              1. Did you ever find this seemingly "phantom" toaster?

                                See this article - RE: "Cons" = Only available at Target.

                                http://www.consumersearch.com/toaster...

                                Target does not show it on their web-site, but that's not to say they don't stock it in their stores.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: CocoaNut

                                  Found it on ebay-- "gently used" for 6 months. $24.99. Still waiting for it to arrive-- very curious to see if it lives up to the hype!

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    Got the toaster a week or so ago and it performs just as CI described.

                                    Fantastically beautiful, consistently evenly golden toast every time, with a thin white line around the edge of the crust that looks almost as if it had been painted on. I've honestly never produced toast this lovely before. The crumb trays are very easy to access, and the spring release is very powerful.

                                    This one is definitely worth seeking out if you're in the market for a good toaster.

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      Wow, I'm so disappointed to come late to this conversation. Here you tell me about the perfect toaster and now it's nowhere to be found. :-(

                                      You'd think if a store (i.e. Target) had a highly-rated item, they'd keep selling it!

                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        Sorry I'm daft, but with all the references, which toaster did you finally buy ? Is it the MG Hamilton Beach ? Is it still living up to your review ?

                                  2. I just want a toaster that makes HOT toast. The bread comes out toasted but never piping hot and staying hot.

                                    1. Have you checked out a Dualit? Ive had one for 15 years and I expect it will be going in another 15. Down here in Australia, they are the yuppie snob toaster of choice, but in these things yuppies are often right. The heating elements operate off a timer so once you learn the time it takes to cook your type of toast your way you are set. There is no pop-up mechanism, the toast stays in the toaster to slow down cooling after the toaster switches off and you lift the toast out manually with a lever.

                                      They are the toasters for people who believe toast nourishes on other higher levels than cooked bread.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: jhamiltonwa

                                        I am going to look into it. I hope the ones here in N America are just as good.

                                        1. re: jhamiltonwa

                                          http://www.amazon.com/Dualit-20293-2-...

                                          $260 for any device with such a narrow range of functionality as a toaster is outrageous. You can get several pieces of solid All Clad cookware or some Le Creuset pans for that price.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            If you shop around you can get a Dualit Classic 2-slice toaster (new) for about $ 125 to $ 150. I did. Amazon has a few in that price range currently.

                                        2. I got tired of the cheap toasters that didn't toast evenly and gave up working after just months. Years ago Toastmaster would have been my choice, but if you can find them, they are cheaply made as well. So, I bit the bullet and spent the money on a die-cast 4-slice Breville. I absolutely love it, perfect toast every time. It also has a "bit more" button for those times you want the toast just a little darker

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. I was fortunate enough to "inherit" my dad's Sunbeam toaster (model 3837) which is the best toaster I've owned in 30 years. I don't know what it originally cost or when it was made, but I'm sure it wasn't much as my dad was, shall we say, "frugal". It probably came from (*shudder*) WalMart.

                                            I agree with other posters - a ton of money for a TOASTER fer cryin' out loud, is just a crime. But most toasters, even when you pay the Big Bucks (relatively speaking) for them just do a lousy lousy job of the one task they're supposed to be eminently suited to.

                                            I wish I had one of these:

                                            http://www.automaticbeyondbelief.org/

                                            If they work as advertised - and it seems they did, there's one mentioned by another poster - I can't understand why they quit making them!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                              That is the same one I have and it is most awesome. They were made for almost 30 years in various incarnations, but all with the same basic mechanism. They stopped making them I am sure because they probably cost a fortune to make (especially compared to the garbage out there today). There is a big market for them on eBay. I would much rather buy one of these than any of the new ones on the market, and they still look current on any counter (I have an ultra modern kitchen, and this Sunbeam from the 60's fits right in!) The radiant eye bit is amazing. I don't always get to the toast exactly when it finishes, so I can just drop it back in, it lowers and rewarms it up without toasting it any further. None of the Magimix, Dualit, or any other toaster I know of has this feature..

                                            2. For anyone looking for a toaster now, we couldn't be more pleased with the Breville die-cast toaster. See: http://www.google.com/products/catalo...

                                              Sure it's expensive, but it looks good, toasts perfectly, is wonderfully gimmicky, and matches up well with the generally very high standards of Breville.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                Couldn't agree more about the Breville. I posted previously about mine and a year later I'm still happy with it.

                                                1. re: Pegmeister

                                                  Either this post is a swarm of Breville employees or their products are amazing. It better be the latter because I'm going to buy the Smart Oven tomorrow...

                                                  1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                    The Smart Oven is amazing! I don't have room for it, but would love to have it. Go for the larger one if you can...it has some definite advantages over the smaller per the folks @ W/S.

                                              2. Old thread I know but after our 4-slice toaster died we started to use a 50 year old Sunbeam T35 that works well and looks cool. I would rather have this Sunbeam model however:
                                                http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunbea...