Our old toaster was really dying. The good news? We had a routine. Every time the toast popped up looking like a refinery smokestack, we would rush to open the windows, the kitchen door and hope the smoke detectors slept peacefully. For the really bad times, we’d throw a fan in the window and use dish towels to move the smoke. We had it down.
I’m a proud person, so naturally I would put on the butter and jam and smile as the burnt bread injured my mouth as I chewed. I had the last laugh. No silly toaster would defeat me.
But last Sunday we splurged and shopped for a new toaster. It was remarkable. Before we left the store $200 lighter, we found out that toasters have grown up in the digital age. They are no longer mechanical and ‘dumb’. We have button to ‘Just take a look’ (without resetting the timer) and another for ‘Just a little more’ (continue 30 more seconds).
The toaster has evolved to take on the tricks that we had to do manually to get things just right. The designers thought ahead to the human behavior of taking a look or putting the toast back down. Both of these actions were the primary cause, other than old, nasty heating elements, of our burnt toast. By enabling human patterns within the process, they’ve improved on the simple process of making toast.
They could have added bells and whistles to make the toaster resemble our dryer, which I still can’t figure out, but they didn’t. They looked at where the process was broken and made it work alongside the human need to take a look and extend the timer just a little.
Beautiful process improvement without complexity. Perhaps this will stave off the toaster apocalypse by a few years.
More importantly, we’ve entered a new age in our house. The Age of Perfect Toast.