Maybe I should ask Encyclopedia Brown

My toaster is somewhere around thirty years old; it bears the ancient symbol “Montgomery Ward” on its base. It looks like, well, a thirty-year-old toaster, with two parallel slots, one of which is labeled “SINGLE SLICE”.

While toasting a single slice last night — in the proper slot, you may be sure — I got to wondering just what the hell difference it makes. My mother had a similarly-configured toaster, and she couldn’t explain it either. Is there a difference? Or is this just a ruse to keep us OCD types from agonizing over it? “Let’s see, I used the left slot all during August…”



  1. fillyjonk »

    3 September 2010 · 10:51 am

    I always figured that the single-slice slot was closer to the heating element or something, and that it was more efficient to use that one for a single slice of toast. Or maybe, on some really good, high-tech toasters, they could sense the absence of the slice in the second bay and not turn on that heating element.

    I don’t think my current toaster gives a “single slice” indication or I’d be tempted to go all Mythbusters on it, and check to see if the single-slice slot does, in fact, make better toast when you’re making just one slice.

    Well, there’s that, and there’s also the fact that I would have no use for thirty pieces of toast after I’d done the experiment.

  2. Brian J. »

    3 September 2010 · 12:03 pm

    Encyclopedia Brown says that the man in the hotel who claimed to have married the recently-deceased widow and wanted to claim the inheritance couldn’t have been telling the truth–he used the SINGLE slot in the toaster, not the other one.

  3. Laura »

    3 September 2010 · 12:17 pm

    You should do a test and post the pics. Label it “Toast Science.”

  4. CGHill »

    3 September 2010 · 12:20 pm

    There will be testing, once I restock the pantry.

  5. Gabrielle Dolly »

    3 September 2010 · 2:36 pm

    I’ve always assumed that the “single slice” slot in the toaster was the one that held the feedback device — whatever it is that decides the toast is done and pops it out. If you use the other slot: burnt toast.

    At least, that’s my guess.


  6. Melanie Griffin »

    3 September 2010 · 4:42 pm

    our toaster doesn’t have the single slice label and it DOES bother me, Craig couldn’t care less. Every time I toast one slice I wonder “and I doing it wrong?”

  7. Teresa »

    3 September 2010 · 5:12 pm

    I always figured it was because they only wanted to put the temperature sensor on one side… You could experiment…. or you could poke it with a stick. Yay Stick Science!

  8. Charles Pergiel »

    3 September 2010 · 11:39 pm

    I had Sunbeam automatic toaster once upon a time. It automatically lowered the toast when you put it in and automatically raised it when it was done, none of this untoward “popping”. One day it broke, and I fixed it, but after that it had to be adjusted so that the color of the toasted toast matched the color on the color wheel, which necessitated toasting pert near an entire loaf of bread. Which my assisstant and I snarfed down. I think that must have been our dinner that day.

  9. Laura »

    4 September 2010 · 5:01 am

    Don’t poke it with a fork though.

  10. MorningGlory »

    4 September 2010 · 1:07 pm

    It’s to keep the toaster from heating if you accidentally push the lever down without any bread in it. As long as there’s something in that one slot, it will heat up; otherwise, no go.

  11. ak4mc »

    5 September 2010 · 10:10 am

    Or maybe, on some really good, high-tech toasters, they could sense the absence of the slice in the second bay and not turn on that heating element.

    The toaster my family had when I was a kid dated from around the time our esteemed host was invented — and it had the “Single Slice” legend on it too.

    Which doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t high-tech when it was incorporated into the design…

  12. Chris »

    12 September 2010 · 10:00 am

    Always wondered about that. I have an ancient 4-slicer that’s finally about to give up the ghost. Hmmm… “Encyclopedia Brown and Old Toaster Mystery”?

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