Friday, May 19, 2006

You're Toast

The long-awaited Toast-Off finally happened. I feel... incredulous. We probably had a dozen people in the kitchen watching the toaster CLEARLY blowing the pants off the oven, yet there were STILL people giving Hot Oven Love. We had one protestor show up holding a sign begging "Think of the croutons!" and another wacko holding a "John 3:16" banner.

I suppose I have no one to blame but myself; apparently I did not make it clear why the oven was teh sux0r. This whole thing started because I felt Toast-R-Ovens were too damn slow. So when I first announced to everyone that the Toast Off was going to be a race, all of a sudden people started back-pedaling; "well of course a toaster is faster, but it's the QUALITY of toast that's important!" Good toast in 2 minutes is better than great toast in 10 minutes, if there even is such a thing as great toast. Speed seemed to be the only objective measure of the two appliances, so I said "let's just see what happens."

We placed 2 slices of white Wonder Bread in each machine and started them up. An outside viewer might think it's odd that a dozen professionals would stand around watching bread warm up, but if you weren't there you can't possibly understand the tension and the excitement. After about 2 minutes, the toaster popped up and we immediately took the bread out of the oven. And yes, I do mean bread. The toaster made 2 pieces of dark toast and the oven had just started crisping the bread. Clearly, the toaster won round one.

"But what about making GOLDEN BROWN toast?!" The crowd was demanding more, so I said fine. I set the toaster to "extra tastey" and in about 60-seconds made 2 decent-looking pieces of toast. Cruftlabs also changed his settings and after an excruciating long couple of minutes, produced two golden-brown slices of bread. Well, mostly golden brown if you don't count the burnt crust on top. Cruftlabs tried to wave it away by saying "oh, I just didn't center the bread on the rack. Had I done that, it would have been perfect". Operator error? Round 2 Ease-of-use: toaster.

I tried to get better photos of round 2, but the crowd started eating the evidence.

Cruftlabs had been bragging about how evenly the oven toasted bread, and held up his golden-brown slice as "evidence". I told him to flip the bread around, which he did to reveal 4 thick white stripes running along the back, where the bread sat on the rack. The toaster toast had very faint lines, which I felt was evidence that the toaster browned bread more evenly. Cruftlabs' rebuttal? "Look at how much nicer my stripes are!" Round 3 Uniformity: Toaster.

You would think I'd be happy about all of this, right? Wrong. Throughout the challenge, the ignorant crowd kept yelling out things like "yeah but, like, can you make bagels with a toaster?" That's not the point. The Toast-Off, by definition was scheduled because of this claim by Cruftlabs:

"I demand a toast-off then. I submit that a toaster oven does a better job than a traditional toaster at the task of toasting bread."

They just didn't seem to get it. After all the toasting was done, I held my hand over each appliance one at a time to let the audience decide the victor. It was close, but the oven got more applause. How is that possible?! People didn't seem to understand the point of the Toast-Off. They told me " well you should of told us the rules". I replied "you mean THESE?" and referred them to the typed set of rules hanging on the kitchen door. "Oh, well I didn't see those." Not my problem man.

Several people came up to me privately afterwards and told me "the toaster definitely won." But where was the love when everyone was watching? People lack the courage of their kitchen convictions. I feel that the toaster won, but I lost.

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