Burned AND Undercooked no more!

Wed 3/2/2011

Hey, remember back in 2005, when I bought a toaster oven with the money I made on my very first paying illustration gig? Well, I have been using it ever since. I think I can honestly say that I have used my toaster oven every single day for the last six years (except for the times I was out of town, obviously). Veggie burgers, fries, burritos, nachos, waffles, leftovers, uh... TOAST - you name it - if I ate it, it was warmed or cooked in that little toaster oven.

I don't know who is in charge of DESIGNING toaster ovens, but the interface on this thing is kind of confusing. There's a top knob which goes from "off" to 450 degrees, and then up to "MAX." Below that, is another knob which has various settings such as "warm", "bake", "broil" and presumably the highest setting, "toast." Lastly, there is timer knob, which is coincidentally the only knob that I understand. You twist it to a numerical minute value, and it ticks its way back to zero, and then goes "DING."

Now, what's the deal with those two upper knobs? If I only turn the middle knob to "warm" but turn the top knob way up to "450" is that more or less heat than if I turn the middle knob all the way up to "toast" and the top knob only up to 100 degrees? What if one of the knobs is turned to "OFF" but the other is activated??? The first week I owned the toaster oven, I futzed around with these controls unsuccessfully until I finally figured out that if I turned the top knob all the way up to "MAX" and the middle knob up to "toast", the oven would get really really hot, really really fast. I have been enjoying burned AND undercooked food ever since.

Of course, when Claire moved in, she intuitively grasped how to use the toaster oven, making me feel like a complete idiot. It literally never occurred to me that just by lowering the middle knob one level (to "bake"), it would create a nice slow heat, instead of a horrible FAST heat, which just burns the outsides of things without cooking the insides. This simple truth has been like an EPIPHANY to me lately, and I feel like I have taken another big step down the path to not eating total crap food all the time.

I still say the interface design could be improved though! Claire and I housesat for my boss James and his family a few weeks ago, and when he was walking us through the house, showing us where everything was, I felt totally vindicated when he said, "This is the toaster oven. You, uh... turn this knob? Or... wait, this one? Hmmmm... Well, anyway, you get the idea. It toasts stuff." DING!

5 comments on this entry

Hey Bud! According to Alton Brown, 310 degrees is the perfect setting for toast! I feel your pain. The three button setup is a confusing one.

Sounds like the premise of a Phase 7 gag to me.

Thank goodness for Claire-i-ty. Did I really just make an old man joke? Crap. I sincerely apologize.

I'm just glad to hear you're eating regularly, Mr. Food-Hater.

Arlene Mar16

Haha, I'm totally 100% behind you on this Alec. I don't know how many times I've heard my oven "ding" and I come back to a cold slice of bread. I mean, it's not good enough just to push down the springy timer thing, you also have to set the upper dial to "TOAST?"

It's just bad design. I've been complaining about toaster ovens for years to anybody who will listen.

Calvin Mar16

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