The Quest for the Made in America Toaster
Or, The Toaster that Launched a Blog
Over two years ago, I decided I needed a new toaster. Tired of cheap, short-lived, made in China toasters, I was determined to buy a made in America toaster. I figured I’d have to pay extra, but I was ready to pay for the quality that comes with American products. So began the strange journey that ultimately led to the Buying American Blog.
Naively, I first went to my local big box stores and started checking labels. Surely, one of the brands I was familiar with would offer a made in America toaster. Cuisinart? No. KitchenAid? Nope. Oster, Hamilton Beach, Breville? Not a chance. No matter what brand I looked at and no matter how high the price, none were made in America.
Fine. If the local retailers don’t want to sell me a made in America toaster, there was always my old friend Amazon. But a quick Amazon search only led me further down the rabbit hole. None of the toasters which specified where they were manufactured came from the USA. So I turned to Google to find out where the ominously unspecified ones were made. A week later (I don’t give up easily), I had exhausted my Amazon options with no American made toaster in sight.
Surely someone, somewhere still made toasters in America. Summoning my Google-Fu, I began searching for any evidence such a mythical beast still existed. And finally, success! Kind of.
I discovered two models of toasters still made in the good ole U. S. of A. But like all mythical beasts, they are rather exotic.
First, meet the Holman Toastmaster 409.
The Holman Toastmaster isn’t just a toaster, it is a gluten-fueled assault toaster. The Holman is a commercial toaster rated to produce 250 slices of toast per hour. Of course, this kind of performance comes at a price. Specifically, a retail price of $1,336 (but you can find one for the bargain price of $550–$700).
The Polytron Two-Slice Toaster
My second discovery was less formidable but still imposing. The 14-lb. Polytron toaster, sold through Toaster Central, is a two-slice toaster based on a commercial model made by Hobart. Indeed, the four-slice version is not offered to mere mortals and is only available to businesses. But even the civilian two-slice version costs $285, and you can forget a bagel setting.
Blasts from America’s Past
At this point, you may be thinking: “There must be other options!” Well, you’re partially right. Toaster Central offers refurbished antique American-made toasters from as far back as the 1920s. These toasters are monuments to the enduring quality of American manufacturing. While new products can die within a few years, these toasters are still going strong 90+ years later, with a bit of TLC, and many are also works of art. Browse the following examples at Toaster Central:
- The Automatic Toastswell Toaster (1920s)
- Universal Push Button Toaster (1920s)
- 1930 Jewel Box Toaster (1930s)
- Sunbeam model T-20 automatic toaster (1950s)
And a blog is born
I started my search because I wanted a toaster. Instead, I found something else: a passion for American-made products. I discovered how difficult it can be to find American-made products, even when one is (maniacally) determined to do so. Product listings often hide where products are made, or worse, are misleading. I was also surprised how rare American-made products have become in many product categories. More importantly, I discovered a deeper appreciation for the quality and workmanship American products offer.
However, for American manufacturers to survive and thrive once again, people like you and I need to be able to find their products and to appreciate what they offer. So the Buying American Blog was born. If you are also on a quest to find made in America products, you will find my Made in USA List (linked from the top bar) which contains a growing list of manufacturers and retailers. You can also follow me on Twitter at @BuyingAmerican.
But I still need a made in America toaster with a bagel setting. Any suggestions?
More Made in USA Kitchen