What Is a Bagel Toaster?

Erik J.J. Goserud

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.

Lox is commonly served on a bagel with cream cheese.
Lox is commonly served on a bagel with cream cheese.

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.

Bagels from the deli can be toasted at home using a special bagel toaster.
Bagels from the deli can be toasted at home using a special bagel toaster.

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.

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Discussion Comments


@babylove - I have a single slot blue toaster that I absolutely love. It's compact thin design doesn't take up much counter space and I can toast breads or bagels side by side right in the same slot.

Mine has wide slots that I think I could probably warm a muffin in it if I wanted to. Just like most modern bagel toasters it has adjustable temperature knobs, a warming rack, a crumb tray and a bread lift lever.

Anyway I hope that answers your question. You can find them just about anywhere these days and they come in dozens of brand names in a wide variety of colors.


I've been seeing more and more single slot toasters on the market today and was just wondering what makes them any better than a two slot or a four slot toaster. Any ideas?


I have a stainless steel toaster that is actually the best little bagel toaster I've ever owned. I read a lot of toaster reviews before buying this one and I'm really glad I did. I've owned this little Kitchenaid toaster now for over five years and it's still going strong.


Leave it to a woman to develop something that will actually make her life in the kitchen a little easier. Even if the first attempt wasn't very successful, at least she opened the door for more advanced designs.

The first commercial electric toaster was designed by a General Electric technician named Frank Shailor. The toaster was patented and sold commercially in 1909.

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