Tom Ross: No toast for you, cheapskate
February 27, 2012
Steamboat Springs — You know your toast ain't nothing but trash when the neighborhood magpies turn up their beaks at it.
We've been having a bad go of it with one of the smallest kitchen appliances in the house lately. Two of our toasters have cratered in the span of a month.
It began when our three-year-old GE four-slot toaster began burning everything in the two left slots so badly that it filled the kitchen with smoke. There's nothing like the smell of burnt toast in the morning to kill one's appetite.
Unwilling to throw out what once were two perfectly good slices of health nut bread, we tossed the blackened slices on the deck, where the resident timber parents scrounge around the grill. I think we insulted them. They didn't even squawk back at us, let alone peck at the bread.
My wife promptly picked up another toaster made by a trusted brand — how can you go wrong with a Toastmaster toaster?
It's easy, actually.
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The dang thing didn't last two weeks. The left side of the beautiful little appliance is a dud and the right side barely puts a tan on a bagel, and then refuses to give it up without a tussle.
In general, we've had really good luck with Kenmore appliances — in 2010, we finally replaced the refrigerator my parents gave us as a house warming gift in 1989, and when we moved out of the house, the washer and dryer we bought that same year still were chugging along.
We also had a Cuisinart food processor that lasted nearly 30 years, the last several with its plastic bowl patched with duct tape.
Lately, it strikes me that they don't make appliances like they used to. Our new gas range needed a new heating element for $180 after two years, and our stainless steel refrigerator, the first one we ever owned with an ice-making machine, needed a new thermostat for the ice maker after three years.
We said last rites to two above-the-counter microwaves in the last four years, and I'm here to tell you that installing a replacement is almost impossible for guys who weren't born with three hands.
We've had as much luck with blenders as we've had with toasters, including a Cuisinart that had a shortened lifespan. Things didn't turn around until my wife went to a garage sale and bought an old-school model that looked like it was used by Betty White on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
Judy tried to talk the owner down from his $10 asking price, but he was firm.
"That blender belonged to my mother," he declared. "It will run for years and years."
I hope that guy is happy after he threw over his mama's blender for a new Mr. Fancy Pants model. Mama's blender, which resembles the Seattle Space Needle on steroids, is kept out of sight in the pantry but works just fine when there's no company around.
After researching toasters this week I think I've found the reason for our recent bad luck. Both GE and Toastmaster probably make reliable models, but you get what you pay for and you can't get a decent toaster for $26.99, which is what we paid for ours.
Think about it. If the retail markup is 100 percent, that pretty toaster came all the way from China for $13.50. GE and Toastmaster had stingy guys like me in mind when they hit that price point. I should know better.
China manufactures all kinds of perfectly good appliances and home electronics, but you can't get a reliable toaster for $13.50 unless you go to a garage sale and search out an antique.
So, our next toaster is going to cost something like $213.50, and it had better still be browning my bagels in 2022.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com