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From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

A toaster is a small electric kitchen appliance designed to toast bread, an act also known as 'making toast.' Prior to the development of the electric toaster, bread was sometimes toasted by placing it in a metal frame and holding it over a fire.

Toaster types

Modern toasters are typically one of three varieties: pop-up toasters, toaster ovens and conveyor toasters.

In pop-up toasters, the bread is inserted vertically into slots (generally only large enough to admit a single slice of bread) on the top of the toaster. A lever on the side of the toaster is depressed, activating the toaster. When an internal device determines that the toasting cycle is complete, the toaster turns off and the toast pops up out of the slots. The heating elements of a pop-up toaster are oriented vertically, parallel to the bread.

By comparison, toaster ovens are small electric ovens with a door on one side and a tray within. To toast bread with a toaster oven, one lays down slices of bread horizontally on the tray, closes the door, and activates the toaster, usually by means of a lever. When the toast is done, the toaster turns off, but the door must be opened manually. Toaster ovens are capable of performing most of the functions of ordinary ovens, but on a much smaller scale.

There are models of toasters that are designed to make many slices of toast used in the catering industry. These are called conveyor toasters and they are designed for large-scale use. Bread is added to the conveyor and passed through under heating elements which toast the bread. Production capacity generally ranges from 350-800 slices an hour, making conveyor toasters ideal for a large restaurant that is constantly busy.

In the past, the completion of the toasting operation was determined by a mechanical timer; the user could adjust the running time of the timer to determine the degree of "doneness" of the toast, but the first cycle produced less toasted toast than subsequent cycles because the toaster was not yet warmed up. Newer toasters use a thermal device in close proximity to the toast. This allows the first cycle to run longer than subsequent cycles. The thermal device is also slightly responsive to the actual temperature of the toast itself. Like the timer, it can be adjusted by the user to determine the doneness of the toast.

As with so many home appliances, the fanciest toaster ovens now use computer controls instead of electromechanical controls.

Toasters are usually freestanding, counter-top appliances, although some toaster ovens may be hung beneath cabinets.

If toast is stuck in a toaster (which is more likely to happen with a pop-up toaster) it is highly recommended that one does not attempt to free it by inserting metal objects such as knives, due to the risk of electric shock.

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