1 9 2 0 - 1 9 4 0

The critical period in matrimony is breakfastime.

-- Sir Alan Patrick Herbert

[T]he unwritten law of wedded bliss is plain for all to read: Don't tempt masculine tempers with burnt toast!

-- 1940 TOASTMASTER Advertisement

This time period was probably the most active for toaster innovation and design. Unfortunately, the Great Depression eliminated many of the smaller manufacturers.

STAR-Rite Reversible Toaster made by the Fitzgerald Manufacturing Co. of Torrington, Connecticut. Patent issued 1921. You use the knobs on top of the doors to swing the bread around to toast both sides.

This toaster, with its original box - from which this illustration comes, was generously donated to the Toaster Museum Foundation by Bob Sumner of Huntsville, Utah.

Click to view a March 1923 ad from Good Housekeeping for the STAR-Rite.

Left: Universal E945 by Landers, Frary & Clark of New Britain, Connecticut, c. 1920. Spring loaded doors hold toast in place.

Right: Manning and Bowman Reversible Toaster article 1226, from 1923. Wonderfully complicated baskets turn on a horizontal axis.

Click for larger image
The Universal Model E9410, by Landers, Frary & Clark of New Britain, Connecticut. One of the most amazing and beautiful toasters ever made, this must have been known as something more elegant than the "E9410". The best name we've heard anyone call this unit is the Sweetheart Toaster, so until some old advertising literature is found that tells us different, that's what we'll call it.

The Sweetheart Toaster operates by the two buttons on its base - one button for each side. Pressing one of the buttons swings the bread basket out perpendicular to the toaster allowing one to insert or remove bread. Release the button and the basket swings back against the toaster. Each subsequent pushing of a button makes the basket rotate in the opposite direction, so that both sides of the bread can be toasted.

   Toastrite Blue Willow
Click to see a high-resolution image of the Blue Willow toaster.

The Toastrite "Blue Willow" Porcelain Toaster

Made by the Pan Electric Manufacuring Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. This lovely toaster was made to complement one's Blue Willow pattern dinnerware. It also came in a "Pink Willow" design, as well as in Pearly Blue, Apple Green, Orange, Yellow, and Mother of Pearl.

Not made of true porcelain, the Toastrite was fabricated out of "Onyxide" China. An ad for the Toastrite line of toasters reads:
All the brightness, charm and lively zest of these vivid times are expressed in the colors of this attractive appliance. Its design harmonizes perfectly with the finest table appointments. Every detail, even to the heater cord in Rayo Silk, covered in colors to match the toaster, is exactly in keeping with the modern spirit of grace and beauty. Only the best materials are used in its construction.

The Onyxide China Electric Toaster, available in a variety of colors, offers an opportunity to match tableware and decorations. It is made of "Onyxide China," is tremendously sturdy and withstands heat.
The Onyxide China Electric Toaster is so simply made that it cannot get out of order. The heating element is practically everlasting and it makes delicious toast instantly. Only a damp cloth is needed to clean it.

The First Pop-up Toaster

During World War I, a master mechanic in a plant in Stillwater, Minnesota decided to do something about the burnt toast served in the company cafeteria. To circumvent the need for continual human attention, Charles Strite incorporated springs and a variable timer, and filed the patent for his pop-up toaster on May 29, 1919.

Receiving financial backing from friends, Strite oversaw production of the first one hundred hand-assembled toasters, which were shipped to the Childs restaurant chain.

The first pop-up toaster for the home, the Toastmaster, arrived on the scene in 1926. It had a timing adjustment for the desired degree of darkness, and when the toast reached the preselected state, it was ejected, rather forcefully. The device stirred so much public interest that March 1927 was designed National Toaster Month, and the advertisement running in the March 5 issue of the Saturday Evening Post promised: "This amazing new invention makes perfect toast every time! Without turning! Without burning!"

The automatic toaster had arrived.
-- From Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati

Check out the article: Toastmaster - A History with Dates

Toastmaster 1-A-1   
The photo above originally appeared in American Heritage Magazine.

Click here to view scans of the Instruction Manual that shipped with the 1-A-1

Toastmaster Model 1-C-1 - Toastmaster manufactured a number of three slice toasters over the years, beginning with this enormous, cast-aluminum, commercial model from the mid-1920s (a 1950s era single-slice Toastmaster is placed next to it for scale). Why three slices? Could it be that Club Sandwiches were extremely popular in the 20s?

Click to view an ad for the Toastmaster 1-F-1, which could toast up to 12 slices of bread.

Visit the 1940-1960 section to see a 1950s three-slice Toastmaster made for home use.

Check out the article: Toastmaster - A History with Dates

The Fabulous "Half-Round" Sunbeam.
Model T-9

From the mid-1930s to the 40s, "The lovely oval design (is) the last word in modern styling by George Scharfenberg" (from an advertisement). It truly is wonderfully designed, and, for many years, Kellogg's used an animated T-9 to help sell its Pop-Tarts toaster pastries.

The Hotpoint Gazelle Toaster, Model 129T31, from the early 1930s, manufactured by Edison General Electric Appliance Co. Inc., Chicago, designed by Raymond E. Patten.

This single-slice model is the finest and truest example of Art Deco design in toasters.

As we gather more information, and take more photographs, we'll add to this page.
Do you have something to contribute? Let us know.

[ Introduction I 1900-1920 I 1940-1960 I 1960-1980 I 1980-2000 ]