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More small wonders that have changed our lives

Photos

A stovetop toaster used in kitchens in the late 19th centuryElectrolux Nero Series ToasterA man using a drum sieveElectrolux Blender

We may take great pleasure at grand romantic gestures like the World Wonder that is the Taj Mahal but it’s the small wonders in life that get us through the mundaneness of day to day living. Small appliances have made huge strides in improving our quality of life, and in this second instalment on small appliances, we look at how the electric toaster and blender have made happier homemakers .

The Toaster

Families the world over today wake up to perfectly browned bread from their home’s electric toaster, although toast itself pre-dates electricity. It was said the Romans first toasted bread as a means of preserving this food staple. The Latin word tostum – to scorch or burn – in fact, was the origin of the word toast.

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A stovetop toaster used in kitchens in the late 19th century
Photo Credit: Antiques Navigator

Early toast was made by holding it over a fire or lying them on a hot stones, while early toasters were simply wire frames built for sitting over open fires.  Burning toast was a much easier – if unintended – affair in those days.

By the 17th century, they had become such an important part of the British breakfast that early colonists in America brought complex hearth toasters that could hold several pieces of bread at once in a four-legged, wrought iron rack.  By the 1890s, stovetop toasters were made of perforated sheet iron and the pryramid-shaped device had wire supports for bread on four sides

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Electrolux Nero Series Toaster

Fast-forward to the present time, where toasters like the Nero by Electrolux uses sensor-controlled toasting that allows you to set the crispiness of your bread. It doesn’t stop there. Its auto-centering function keeps toast in the center for optimal results and comes with a detachable crumb tray for easy cleaning.

Perhaps the greatest thing since sliced bread literally is the electric toaster, for immeasurably improving our enjoyment of sliced bread.

Blenders

They chop, grind, puree and blend, all in a matter of seconds. Blenders today are a boon to the working mother desiring to cook good meals for their families. After all, their mothers can still recall spending hours in the kitchen grinding spices with a pestle and mortar, as humans did as early as 1500BC, according to the ancient Egyptian medical text, the Ebers Papyrus.

Before the blender, food processing was even bad for your back. Frequent use of quern-stones, used since the Neolithic age to grind grains, spices and other food ingredients, inflicted great pressure and often, pain, to the toes, knees hips and lower back.

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A man using a drum sieve

It got better in the Middle Ages, although not by much. Creating a Puree in those days was done via drum sieve, a utensil shaped like a snare drum with a sieve. Ingredients were then strained through the mesh with a scraper or pestle.

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Electrolux Blender

So praise the domestic powers that be for electric blenders so powerful that they can crush ice for your smoothies or grind ingredients in seconds at the turn of a knob. After all, after a hard day’s work, the last thing one wants is to face another grind at home.

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