Unitasker Wednesday: Toast Rack

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Back in ye olde tyme days, toast was typically made in a home’s hearth using a device that looked like a rake or a pyramid shaped gewgaw that is still popular with camping enthusiasts. With the invention of electricity, the rake and pyramid were pushed aside as people started toasting their bread speedily under their oven’s broilers or in toasters or small toaster ovens. Gone were the days of slowly attending to toasting bread over the fire, people could now let a machine make their bread dry and brown for them!

My guess is that it was around this transition period when this week’s unitasker selection hit the market. With toast coming out of the electrical appliances so quickly, it must have been stacking up faster than folks could eat it. And, since apparently plates didn’t exist in the 1800s (except, they did), there must have been a need for a Toast Rack:

Since we now have plates (and by “now,” I mean “have had them since the dawn of civilization”), we can use plates to hold toast. This is such a terrific advancement! Plates! In fact, plates can hold lots of other things. No, it’s true! I’m not kidding around with you. Plates really can hold all types of food in addition to toast — like cake and steak! They’re amazing. I’m very pro-plate.

(Also, I strongly recommend reading the Toast Rack product description, where it tries to justify the device by saying it can also hold waffles. Awesome, because who doesn’t love to display their waffles before eating them?! Oh, and the user review from Marcus is priceless: “Who settles for horizontally stacked toast?” Hee.)

Thank you, Chaya, for sharing this device with us.

88 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Toast Rack”

  1. posted by ninakk on

    Oh I wouldn’t agree with you at all Erin. Especially the function of the microwave and dryer can easily be replaced by something else. The microwave is absolutely ridiculous and has no function what so ever to a huge percentage of the global population.

  2. posted by ninakk on

    JustGail, the rest of the world drinks their tea hot and it is clear tea is hot. Iced tea is a lot more uncommon.

  3. posted by Mags on

    I’ve only ever encountered iced tea in America. Cold tea is something you use to dye things, not drink! ;)

  4. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @ninakk — I rarely use the microwave, so I probably agree with you on that. However, I think if I were to write a unitasker post about the microwave the comments disagreeing with me would be far worse than they are to this little toast rack :)

    And now I’m craving tea …

  5. posted by Rich on

    Erin, I usually have a good chuckle at your Unitaskers & think, “Oh, who WOULD ever buy that ridiculous thing?” But I must take you to task on this one, I fear. My toast rack usually serves to store/sort my daily mail. If I do decide to have friends over for tea, however, the mail gets tossed aside in favor of some toast to have on hand in case anyone does fancy a bit of refined sustenance. (No one wants to see the host slaving over a toaster, after all.) So: not a unitasker at all, I would argue.

  6. posted by Beth on

    I saw this and thought of this paragraph from a book that I found in the comments on another blog here: http://separatedbyacommonlangu.....0930926371

    Kate Fox: ‘Watching the English’ (2005, p.312-3):

    “The ‘toast rack’ is a peculiarly English object. My father, who lives in America and has become somewhat American in his tastes and habits, calls it a ‘toast cooler’ and claims that its sole function is to ensure that one’s toast gets stone cold as quickly as possible. English supporters of the toast rack would argue that it keeps toast dry and crisp, that separating the slices of toast and standing them upright stops them becoming soggy, which is what happens to American toast, served hugger-mugger in a humid, perspiring stack on the plate, sometimes even wrapped up in a napkin to retain yet more moisture. The English would rather have their toast cool and dry than warm and damp. American toast lacks reserve and dignity: it is too sweaty and indisceet and emotional.”

  7. posted by Kate on

    Dude, not a unitasker. It’s a toast rack. Something used every day by millions and millions of people.
    This strikes me as one of those ‘I’m an American and we don’t use these in America and I think it’s funny therefore it’s a unitasker’ things you come up with every three months or so. Reverse that and a coffeemaker is a unitasker. Why have a coffeemaker when you’ve already got a jug, a mug, and a spoon, all things that are definite multitaskers?

  8. posted by Henave on

    @djk- I live in Georgia and here the tea is always iced and sweet (I don’t care for it myself). It is very cultural in the south and if you are ever offered “tea” it will be iced tea with the designation being made for hot tea by saying “hot tea”.

    Also, no one here seems to eat cold toast! Our toast is always warm with the (copious amounts of) butter (or more likely margarine) melted and perhaps dripping off of it. In fact if you had a guest and the toast had gone cold, you would apologize and make them some fresh, warm toast!

  9. Avatar of

    posted by Another Deb on

    Last year when I visited the UK, we encountered toast racks at every B&B. There were several places with whole collections of them displayed in the shelving just as china plates were displayed on the walls. I didn’t understand why people wanted a device that kept the toast isolated from it’s warm neighbors but, thanks to the comments above, I can appreciate cultural preferences for crisper vs warmer bread. I am now a total “cream tea” fan, by the way!

    On a side note about tea, my Yankee ear spent an embarassingly long time trying to figure out what they wanted in Texas when they asked for “ass-tay”.

  10. posted by Jeremy on

    This Australian is pleased to read so many posts defending the Toast Rack..
    Though designed with a single task in mind, its uses are multitude, from storing toast, letters, cards, and vertically, cds, to becoming the ribs of a scrap metal art installation.
    Laugh only at the assumption that the Toast Rack is a unitasker.

  11. posted by Linda on

    Some of us in the south only order “sweet tea” and it is cold!

  12. posted by KelKel on

    This is a good lesson to not get our shorts in a bunch if an item we have a fondness for gets mocked a little. Toast Rack/Cooler Defenders, take note. And now proceed to mock this comment too. Go on. It will make you feel better. I’ll even start you off…”Oh you smug soggy-toast eating Americans are all the same…”. lol

  13. posted by Lynn on

    You can also find them, if you are very lucky, on eBay in chintz or other china patterns, for an arm and a leg and your firstborn male child. We wants one, but would rather spend the equivalent on a peck of laceweight cashmere yarn.

  14. posted by Quill on

    Toast racks have been around since at least the Regency period. A little research could have told you that.

  15. posted by Mark on

    These things are quite common around New Zealand… they are a bit useless though, as the toast gets cold if you leave it in the holder for more then a few minutes.

  16. posted by Lisa on

    Also can be used to sort mail, dry lids of snap-on containers, display Christmas cards, oooh drying lasagna noodles?, displaying tiny plates, organizing paint brushes while painting. Plus – bonus keeps toast from getting soggy.

  17. posted by Rally on

    I concur with the others on hot/iced tea – here in Phoenix, it’s usually iced tea by default, but in general if you were to ask for tea, they would want to know if you wanted it hot or iced.

    I’d say the toast rack seems to have many functions after all!

  18. posted by alfora on

    Meta-question:

    Is something really a unitasker if you use it every day?

  19. posted by Christine M on

    I prefer to butter toast as soon as it pops up from the toaster because I like it melted into the bread. However, I see this as a nice way to serve toast to a group of people when I won’t be buttering their slices ahead of time (e.g. extended family or friends over for breakfast/brunch). (No, I do not have one, but I have no objections.)

    I am also not sure why people consider this a new item as this has been around for “ages”, and no, I am not British :).

  20. posted by Karen (Scotland) on

    lol! I used to own one of these until I realised I hate cold, dry toast and, if I don’t get to eat the toast before that point, I don’t want it. Even if making a whole load of toast for friends/family/guests, I’ll either throw it at people as it’s ready or use the grill in the oven to make more in each batch.

    Wish I’d held on to my old one for defrosting purposes (as suggested by Lethe, Netherlands, above).

    I’m in the UK but think the American soggy toast is definitely yummier. Nothing worse than a layer of fat sitting on cold toast – better to melt the butter through it (so I can pretend the fat isn’t there…?)
    :-)
    Karen
    (Scotland)

  21. posted by ninakk on

    Has anyone ever heard of butter that isn’t cold directly from the fridge or melted on the stove? Room-tempered butter? Wow, what an invention.

  22. posted by Anna on

    @ Mags, who asks:

    Now, about this strange American unitasker of a mailbox outside the house instead of a letterbox in the door. Why set things up so you have to get wet to fetch your post instead of being able to collect it off the doormat still in your pyjamas…?

    In case this is a rhetorical question and you really don’t know…..Outside mailboxes are for use by postal workers driving cars, as happens in many areas where the mail route covers many miles. Letterboxes in the door are used by postal workers covering their shorter and more densely populated routes on foot.

  23. posted by heathercheryl on

    I can think of other uses for this toast holder, like a mail sorter, desk accessory to hold the files you are working on, but for toast, no thank you.

  24. posted by Marie on

    As the wife of a Brit, I am very familiar with this gadget (which as many people point out is most popular in B&Bs and hotels). I think it’s also popular among Anglophiles in the US who think the toast rack is very quaint!

    Personally, I have always disliked toast racks…because I like my toast HOT. I’d rather have it be soggy than hot, and when you put toast on a rack, it invariably cools off.

  25. posted by Rondina Muncy on

    You received an incredible amount of responses on the toast rack. Although we Americans don’t use it like the Brits—it will serve a purpose. When you make FRENCH toast, the bread ideally needs to sit out for a few hours and dry out. That means dry, not brown. I ran a bookstore for a while and used a similar wooden device to hold up books. The Container Store used them for product display. I made my own using dowels. I found that they were perfect for sitting out thick bread slices to dry for French toast. The Container Store sells these now. (Not the metal ones; the wood ones.)

  26. Avatar of

    posted by Charity on

    In the UK, even in rural areas, we don’t have mailboxes -the delivery worker just parks and walks. I suppose it is less efficient, but the Royal Mail is still (just about) a public service, not privately owned.

    I own 2 toast racks :)

  27. posted by Henave on

    In rural areas of the south in the US (in my personal experience), your mail delivery goes down a few notches from having a mail box at the end of your drive. If you live in a small town that does not have home mail delivery, you have to drive into the nearest post office and get it out of a P.O. Box (post office box) or on rural routes you might see mail boxes grouped together for homes that are miles apart, which would also entail a drive. I grew up having to drive to the post office and use a P.O. Box address and having a mail box at the end of my driveway now feels luxurious! I was 25 years old before I lived somewhere with my own mailbox:) This includes apartments which also have communal mailboxes that you have to walk or drive to access.

  28. posted by Julie Bestry on

    @ninakk I lived many decades on this planet before learning that there were people who didn’t keep their butter in the fridge at all times (except when using it). I was quite appalled the first time I visited a friend, saw her butter was out and “helpfully” put it away, only to have her stop me. Not putting the butter back in the fridge would be like leaving the milk out — to this suburbanite, the idea of having the milk out of the fridge for more than 60-90 seconds was tantamount to inviting the Plague! To this day, butter left out doesn’t raise my eyebrows, but the idea sure does turn my tummy. ;-)

  29. posted by Mark on

    Have you ever tasted the difference between toast put on one of these for 2 minutes and toast stacked on a plate?

    I know we use ours regularly.

  30. posted by Asaf on

    I avidly read your very informative and entertaining columns. But I disagree with you on this one. Toast Racks have an essential function: to chill the toast without condensation ruining its crispness. Plates can’t do that, unless you laboriously lean toasts against each other.

  31. posted by Mel on

    Small books (or stacks of cards) would look TERRIFIC in that. :)

  32. posted by ChrisD on

    Hee. I thought of the Kate Fox quote the minute I saw the picture and I knew lots of Brits would jump up to defend dry toast versus soggy toast, I’d have done it myself if I’d been earlier.
    Maybe no one person said this but it was quite funny to see people saying ‘Erin this is a cultural thing just because it is not used in the US it is NOT an strange device’ and ‘tea is always hot, why would someone need to question that’ Yes, tea is always hot in cold countries, not all of the globe is cold.

    A nutritionist friend told me that margarine is the work of the devil (not in those words) and that everyone should use butter. The spreadable straight of the fridge thing is a major consideration, but nowadays everyone I know keeps their butter out. But then that is clutter on the counter, which would annoy me enough to be equivalent in heart attack terms to the margarine. Maybe a small butter dish can be kept in a drawer. For health and safety you could put out a small amount (a weeks worth?) of butter at a time and keep the rest in the fridge/freezer.

  33. posted by ajeanne on

    Okay then… there are people who prefer their toast to be cold! Who knew? When I was in England, they brought toast to the table in a toast rack. I thought, “WHY would anyone do this to perfectly good toast? It will obviously end up cold and dry!!”

    I had no idea until reading the comments here that there are people who WANT cold, dry toast.

    Also, apparently, there is an affection for cold butter, too, rather than melted butter on warm toast. Okay! Why not?

    Warm beer, anyone? :)

  34. posted by Brian (Shadowfoot) on

    I like my toast rack here in NZ. When I’m making toast for the two of us, it prevents the toast becoming soggy while I’m buttering and eating my first piece. The warmth of one piece of toast helps keep its neighbours warm, meaning I have hot dry toast without having to get up from the table and get it from the toaster.

  35. posted by mags on

    @Anna – it was more a point about how cultures vary and unitaskers depend on context. I cannot understand the point of a mailbox because it means the householder gets wet/cold going to fetch post, and the only task of it is to hold post. A lot of Americans don’t get toast racks for the same cultural reason. So maybe a tad more research and cultural consideration is needed before catagorizing something a unitasker?

  36. Avatar of

    posted by EraserGirl on

    growing up, i never knew it was for toast…ours was a mail sorter.

  37. posted by Rebs on

    I have an antique toast rack at my front door. It’s where I sort the incoming mail, or prop up some paperwork that I need to attend to.

  38. posted by jessiejack on

    @lethe and Kathy – great tips for thawing frozen bread slices before using them! I dont have a toast rack but could use the toaster compartmentl

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