Toast science

I really need a theme song here, preferably by Oingo Boingo, but we’ll get by for now.

You’ll remember this from earlier in the week, perhaps:

While toasting a single slice last night — in the proper slot, you may be sure — I got to wondering just what the hell difference it makes.

It was, of course, the last slice on hand, so Rigorous Scientific Testing would have to wait for the arrival of another loaf of bread.

Test conditions:

  • Time and date: 5:20 pm, 4 September 2010
  • Atmospheric data: 73 degrees Fahrenheit, 47 percent relative humidity, pressure 30.02 inches of mercury
  • Bread used: Home Pride Butter-Top Wheat
  • Toaster setting: Halfway between “Light” and “Dark”

The first slice (the heel will be saved for a sandwich) was placed in the “wrong” slot. The lever engaged normally. After 42 seconds, the toast popped up. However, it was barely warm and hardly darkened.

The second slice was placed in the correct slot. After 53 seconds, the toast popped up. It met the criteria established by the toaster setting.

The third test involved both slots. After 52 seconds, the toast popped up. Both slices met the criteria established by the toaster setting.

Conclusion: There is a reason for specifying a single-slice slot, though the motivation for constructing it that way remains unclear. I lean toward a variation on Dolly’s feedback-device explanation: the thermostat, or whatever it is, ended up closer to one slot than to the other, presumably for packaging purposes, and if the “correct” slot is not filled, the gizmo is designed to eject a bit early, lest burning ensue.

Of course, they could have fitted a device to both slots, but that likely would have driven the cost above twenty 1982 dollars.

This has been, answering the questions you had no intention of ever asking. (I should adopt that as a sub-slogan.)

Addendum: So I conducted a further round of timings, and photographed the results. The “wrong”-slot toast is on the left, the “right”-slot toast on the, um, right.


  1. Jeffro »

    4 September 2010 · 8:07 pm

    I’m glad you didn’t poke it with a metal clad Science Stick.

  2. Lisa Paul »

    5 September 2010 · 1:01 am

    I look forward to have more obscure science questions answered by Dustbury AKA Dr. Science Lite.

  3. ak4mc »

    5 September 2010 · 10:18 am

    I nominate, “She toasted me with science.”

  4. sya »

    5 September 2010 · 2:54 pm

    How can you conclude anything without replicates? Maybe all of this was a fluke.

  5. CGHill »

    5 September 2010 · 3:03 pm

    I’m not at all certain this extends to any toaster besides this particular one. Brandmates, maybe.

    However, the next morning’s breakfast toast did not give me any reasons to question the earlier findings. (Same watch, mostly the same test conditions, no adjustments to the machinery.)

  6. Laura »

    5 September 2010 · 7:25 pm

    Photos, man! We needed photographic proof! Not that we doubt you, but if you ever want published in, say “Toast Science Weekly” you’d need photos. It’s not called “Toast Science Weakly.”

  7. CGHill »

    5 September 2010 · 7:45 pm

    Ask, and ye shall receive.

  8. mel »

    5 September 2010 · 9:55 pm

    Well, Actually, it’s not a question i never intended on asking. It’s a question I’ve asked everyone I’ve ever made toast for.

  9. fillyjonk »

    6 September 2010 · 8:08 am

    As sya said: Sample size needs to be larger. More slices toasted.

  10. CGHill »

    6 September 2010 · 8:10 am

    As John Heywood said: Half a loaf is better than none.

  11. Laura »

    7 September 2010 · 5:35 am

    Photos! You now need to submit your findings to Toast Science Weekly.

  12. Kirk »

    8 September 2010 · 9:29 am

    The choice of a theme song seems obvious enough.

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