Who Killed the Non-Electric Toaster?

pyramid non-electric toaster
I don’t regret my unsuccessful attempt this Sunday to fix our broken toaster. It made me remember designer Thomas Thwaites’ attempt to build a toaster from scratch and how well that project showed the complex, interconnecting supply chain involved in manufacturing even the simplest electronic device.

The failure of our toaster was caused by a break in the heating wire. Following these instructions, I attempted to mend the break, but it was in an awkward location and, like most objects these days, the toaster was not built to be fixed.

Disassembling the toaster laid bare the flaws in the design of all toasters. The heating wire (called nichrome wire–short for nickel-chromium) is fragile and extremely vulnerable to an errant bread crust.

I vowed to find an alternative and remembered seeing non-electric toasters that people used to use back in the 1920s when our house was built. These types of toasters have not died out entirely. Most non-electric toaster designs look like the one above. Some Googling  also led us to an innovative looking non-electric toaster called the DeltaToast.

Counter-intuitively, all of these simple stove top toasters coast about twice as much as electric toaster, at least in the US. This leads me to my question for you, our dear readers. Have you used a non-electric toaster? How do they compare to electric toasters?

Note from Kelly:

I noticed that the stove-top or pyramid toaster seems to live on in Australia and New Zealand, judging by the number of businesses I found selling them there. The toasters were also much more reasonably priced than they are here– but shipping to the US was crazy expensive, scudding that possibility entirely. So I’m particularly interested in responses from readers in these countries. Who is buying and using them?

Also, there are many antique stove-top toasters available on Etsy for about ten to twelve bucks, but they’re all rusty and worse for wear.

Saturday Tweets: Air Plants, Nutrition and Empathy

028 Radical Homemaker Shannon Hayes

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 9.01.37 AM
Our guest this week on the Root Simple Podcast is Shannon Hayes. Shannon is the author of many books including Radical Homemakers, Long Way on a Little and The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook.

She has a new book of essays called Homespun Mom Comes Unraveled, a smart, funny, moving account of the challenges and joys of living the DIY life. Shannon also raises grassfed livestock on her family’s Sap Bush Hollow Farm. You can find her books (in both hard copy and ebook formats) and farm products on her website, theradicalhomemaker.net. During the podcast we discuss:

  • Grass fed beef
  • Radical Homemakers
  • Gender roles
  • Her new book Homespun Mom Comes Unraveled
  • Messes
  • Making relationships work
  • Perfectionism
  • Home schooling
  • Higher education
  • Student debt
  • Occupy Wall Street
  • Reclaiming the holiday season
  • Shannon’s sock knitting machine

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Saturday Tweets: Barbra Streisand, Urban Farm Troubles and Thoughtful Plants