A bagel toaster is a small, usually electronic device used for the act of browning bagels or other bread products. There are many different types of toasters, most being non-bagel specific. Due to the unique shape and size of bagels, however, only those toasters that are large enough to accommodate bagels may be classified under the bagel toaster umbrella.
The art of toasting may be utilized as a means of aesthetically altering the particular appearance of a food or as a method of flavor enhancement. Toasting may also be performed in other circumstances, for example, to slightly harden the outside of a food to decrease its absorptive properties. Toasting is performed by applying a significant amount of heat to the outer layer of a food. Generally speaking, toasting, as opposed to cooking through, uses a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time.
Before the invention of electrical devices for toasting, such as the bagel toaster, open fires were the primary source of heat used to toast different types of food. In 1872, a woman by the name of Maddy Kennedy became the first recorded person to ambitiously fulfill the dream of an electronic toaster. This prototype of sorts, as well as many immediately ensuing attempts, proved inefficient and were oftentimes fire hazards. The electric toaster therefore remained relatively unsuccessful until 1919 when Charles Strife invented what most consider to be the first modern-day, pop-up toaster. The pop-up feature added by Strife enabled the bread product to be more easily obtained after toasting.
Standard toaster and bagel toaster devices exist in many variations. These variations are mostly superficial, but there are also functionality differences among the devices. Most toasters have a set heat, and the degree to which one wishes to toast an item depends of the time duration. Advanced toasters may also offer the ability to change temperature as well. Other modern models offer features such as automatic bread raising and lowering.
Additional types of toasters include toaster ovens and conveyor toasters. Toaster ovens may be likened to miniature ovens, whereas conveyor toasters consist of a moving conveyor belt that slides the product through an oven frame at a predetermined rate. The bagel toaster, of course, would not be necessary without the popularity of the bagel. This ringlike bread product is popular among the Jewish community — and increasingly in other populations — and is often enjoyed with cream cheese, lox, or other garnishing.