One Slice Only
posted April 2, 1996

Q: Why does my toaster (and several others that I’ve encountered) have a designated slot for “One Slice Only”? Doesn’t that exclude the other slot from its share of the toasting? What right does the manufacturer have to arbitrarily choose one side to have all the single toastings while the other side only gets a slice of bread as a leftover from the “One Slice” side’s overabundance?

It just doesn’t seem fair!

– Alissa (mango@xxxxx.edu)

A: Well, I’ll tell you, Alissa. It has to do with the “Electron Anxiety” effect. You see, electrons are extremely nervous little critters. They are quite comfortable while they are safely within the power lines that are suspended above our streets and run through the walls in our homes. However, once they enter a household appliance, major or minor, they become extremely nervous and, frankly, somewhat homesick. They experience an overwhelming desire to retreat to safety as quickly as possible. Unless, of course, there is a nice comforting slice of raw toast (a.k.a. “bread”) nearby.

For economic reasons too complicated to state here, toasters are configured with the power cord entering the device on the side, closer to one slice than the other. When two slices of raw toast are present, the electrons, sensing the positive balanced karma radiating from the raw toast, are comfortable enough to roam freely throughout the appliance, generally distributing themselves evenly on both sides of the toaster. However, when only one slice of raw toast is present, half of the toaster becomes a barren environment that is extremely inhospitable to homesick electrons. If this raw-toast-less gap were on the side where the power cord enters, the electrons would enter the appliance from the end of the cord, witness the shocking void directly before them, and promptly retreat to the sanctity of the wiring in your kitchen, huddling and biding their time until they were called for the next potential toasting.

Therefore, the toaster manufacturers put the “One Slice Only” side nearest the power cord. The electrons enter the appliance and are greeted with a beautiful, welcoming slice of raw toast which they don’t hesitate to surround and bathe with their toastifying magic.

– Dr. Toast