Inadequate toasters

I’ve recently moved into a new houseshare. Not just new to me – new to all the people I’m living with. It was let as semi-furnished, so had a couple of fridges and a cooker, but no kettle or toaster. For a few days I made do with using the grill to make toast, but after several very-nearly-burnt-despite-standing-in-the-kitchen-with-it scenarios, a toaster was in order. As I bought the kettle, one of my housemates was going to buy the toaster. But being French, he was unaware of a major problem which must surely be causing distress right across the UK.

The problem with toasters

Some won’t toast things from frozen, some are slow, some don’t toast evenly. But worst of all – some aren’t actually big enough to fit bread in. You know it to be true. Anyone who has bought the more expensive bread of Kingsmill, Hovis or Warburtons will know that sometimes – the slices just don’t fit.

As Warburtons is my bread of choice, I thought I’d do some extremely-selfish research and find my housemate one that would house a piece of decent bread, and satisfy just my own personal needs. I took to the Internet to find one. Review after review via a variety of retailers, Reevoo and general google searches, saying the same things:

“Does not toast premium bread”

“slots do not fit a whole slice of bread in them you have to turn the bread upside down half way through toasting otherwise youend up with bread at one and toast at the other”

(Source: http://www.reevoo.com/p/russell-hobbs-13899-14340#review_1303890 )

Or

“This is a good toaster the only problem is that we like Warburtons bread and it doesn’t fit ,it really only suits square bread.”

(Source: http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B0010NRYNM )

Or

“The slot isn’t wide enough to put the bread in properly, you have to turn it on its side. Then turn the toast so the other end gets toasted, which invariabley means the middle gets burnt.
On the first few attempts of using the toaster allot o toast got burnt.”

(Source: http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/4219608.htm#pdpProductReviews )

Or

“This toaster is too small for normal size bread. Only good for very small toastie type loaves.”

(Source: http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/4237965.htm#pdpProductReviews )

Time and time again, the reviews of the sub-£30 toasters said the slots were too small to fit Warburtons premium bread. Ironically in some cases, the toasters don’t even fit the “toaster”-style bread.

And it isn’t just me in search of this toasting grail. There are people asking on Yahoo Answers about it:

“Why won’t Warburtons Toasty fit in my toaster? or any toaster i’ve ever had.”

(Source: http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081218101831AARNpn9 )

I took to Twitter and asked for help there.

Some tweets, reverse order.

And received some replies:

Yes, I could trim it to fit. But pre-preparing every slice of bread to fit in a toaster before putting it in, is like pre-heating water before it goes in the kettle. It’s an extra step that shouldn’t be needed. I eat toast most days either with breakfast or lunch, and I don’t want the extra effort involved.

Eventually, I had my plan. I would measure a slice of Warburton’s bread, and make a paper model. I would then take this paper model to a shop (Currys, Comet, wherever), and try and see if I can fit my model slice in their toasters. I mentioned this on Twitter and garnered responses like:

I measured my slice, and set off for Currys/Comet with my housemate. Only to discover the Comet store I was planning on visiting had shut down since my last visit. Currys it is then!

I was mostly disappointed. I tried my ‘slice’ in toaster after toaster after toaster. If the ‘bread’ was inserted the way round you should place it, when the handle was depressed, a section would stick out of the top (and thus wouldn’t be toasted). If rotated 90 degrees and put in width-wise, most toasters wouldn’t accommodate this new found bread-girth.

Realistically, my fair upper budget for my housemate was around the same amount I paid for the kettle. £20. I found nothing in Currys for that price that would hold a piece of Warburtons, in a manner where the bread would be toasted evenly. The cheapest suitable one was £30. The next cheapest was over £50.

Argos *could* be good, but they don’t have much in the way of sub-£30 toasters, except by a brand called Cookworks, which I can find very few reviews of. Also, because they don’t have anything out on the shelves, I can’t try my slice without making some poor sales assistant go and get one, open it up, etc. and even I don’t have time for all that.

As we were at Cribbs Causeway though and near some other stores, I thought I’d try a few other shops. So next up, the enormous Asda store. Asda might be an enormous store, but it sells EVERYTHING. Consequently, they had a range of probably less than 10 toasters. Despite this, they had a number of Brevilles (a brand I quite like – my last toaster and kettle were both Breville branded) as well as a few others.

I draw your attention to my earlier tweet from 18:38, 5th April, before I even left the house:

“Looking at toasters. Warburtons should recommend some that actually fits their bread. #TheReviewsOfAllToastersComplainAboutThis”

I later tweeted about a toaster revelation. Would you believe it. Right there on the shelf:

£9!

Yes it has a defrost option, removable crumb tray, yada yada, bla bla. Forget about that rubbish and LOOK AT THAT STICKER:

YES!

Amazing. Of all the brands/makes/models, the one that is specifically designed for my exact needs (presumably with permission from Warburtons) is one of the cheapest available. And a supermarket own-brand. Who’d have thought it?

And just in case you’re thinking I’m making this all up, and I didn’t really try a paper-model of a piece of bread in every toaster in Currys, here’s a video to prove it.

So there.

  • Graham

    Very amusing. I love that review comment about ‘bread at one end and toast at the other’. My toaster is the same and I have the turn the bread around half way through to toast both ends, but since I only have toast once a month I live with it.

    A job on Watchdog beckons.

    • http://www.ben-park.co.uk Ben Park

      “Next week, people who’ve paid the full cost of their extension up-front, in cash, to a friend of a friend of someone they met on holiday, only to find it’s actually a little bit dodgy. Goodnight.” *awkward Anne Robinson wink*

  • Terry

    Loved the video! I’ve been pondering this problem for a while. I bought an inexpensive 4 slice Wilkinson own-brand toaster – it’s wide enough but the slots are not sufficiently tall and so I still have to turn the bread. Will try ASDA!

  • Jim Macdonald

    Answer = Russell Hobbs Classic. Takes Warburtons Toastie with room to spare, and still toasts evenly after a couple of years.

    • http://www.ben-park.co.uk Ben Park

      I would actually agree. I haven’t tried it, but in several Gadget Show tests over the space of a few years, the Russell Hobbs Classic came out best, every time, even beating models of 2 or 3 times the price.
      In my video, it also fitted my template.
      Ironically I’m not currently buying Warburtons bread – as it seems to be harder to find, for some reason, especially if you want the brown farmhouse (my preferred Warburtons bread). I’m still eating premium bread though – so all big slices.