Dr. Toast's History of the Toaster
posted August 10, 2005

by Dr. Toast

The Toaster was invented in 1491 by an obscure French alchemist by the name of Gérard Depardieu (no relation to the actor). The invention was actually a lucky mistake - Depardieu had been trying to invent a machine that would take ordinary slices of bread and transform them into gold bullion.

Depardieu was not a particularly good alchemist. Through the unlikely discovery of several obscure and unrelated physical laws, all of his previous efforts had only succeeded in turning bread into either banana tapioca pudding or little snowflake-shaped doilies.

However, his patron, the King of France, was not fond of banana tapioca pudding or little snowflake-shaped doilies. In fact, he quite despised them, and told Depardieu that if he didn’t invent a machine capable of turning bread into gold within a fortnight, he would be beheaded. Depardieu, that is, not the King.

Having found this new source of inspiration, Depardieu returned to his efforts with fresh enthusiasm. He eventually struck upon the idea of creating a device that would harness yet another obscure physical law, which incidentally also required the invention of electricity, but we won’t get into that here.

Finally came the day for Depardieu to present his invention before the King’s court. Forged from the finest silver and delicately engraved with the King’s coat of arms, the device’s gracefully arched top featured two slender rectangular openings for the insertion of bread, and a long, gracefully trailing cord that plugged into the new electrical outlet behind the battle axe display case. The cord, incidentally, also required the invention of plastic, but we won’t get into that here.

Depardieu had never before tested this new device, as he had an irrational fear of failure and always preferred to postpone it for as long as possible. So, with great caution and trepidation, with the King and all his court eyeing him leerily, Depardieu inserted the bread into the machine and pushed its lever down.

An anxious silence settled upon the room, permeated only slightly by the faint hum coming from the machine. Soon thereafter began to arise a heavenly scent like none had ever before experienced. The King sat forward, his eyes bulging greedily – for certainly, this must be the smell of gold!

But what eventually emerged from the toaster looked quite unlike gold. In fact, it looked quite similar to the bread that had originally gone into the device, only slightly darker and crispier.

Depardieu knew this meant trouble. As he silently pondered his impending doom, he absentmindedly withdrew the toaster’s offering and took a nibble.

His eyes suddenly widened and did several things in an apparent attempt to escape his head. Then in his developing shock, he stumbled backwards a bit, then forwards, then backwards again, much like someone being forced to dance the cha-cha immediately after hearing that they were descended from an elm tree and a wedge of exotic cheese. His flustered hands tried to do several unrelated things at once, all of which precluded any kind of holding of toast, which he caught just before it was able to teeter to the stone floor. He steadied himself, seized the other unsuspecting slice from the machine, and dashed forward with it to the King’s throne.

After his first taste, the King knew that Depardieu’s discovery was worth more than any amount of gold, that it would forever make France the most powerful nation in the land, and that he should name it after his eldest and most beautiful daughter, Toast. While history has unfortunately proven him a bit less than accurate on point number two, the first and third were very keen insight indeed.

The year after the Toaster’s invention, a number of units were installed on the three ships that Christopher Columbus took on his expedition across the Atlantic to the New World. Unfortunately, after the first week of the long journey, all the bread was used up, and the crew had to survive on toasted fish for seven months. The explorers gradually forgot what toast was really supposed to taste like, and eventually decided that toast was an altogether unpleasant and generally rank thing to eat. It is therefore not surprising that it rapidly fell out of favor and was forgotten for four hundred years, until the toaster’s eventual re-invention in 1909 by Charles Strite.

So the next time you sit down to relax with a nice hot slice of that heavenly breakfast treat, take a moment to pause and say, “Thanks, Gérard Depardieu.”

  • Dr. Toast