The Toas-Tite: 60 years old and still cookin’

July 31, 2010

If I had to pick out my half dozen favorite possessions, one would be a 60-year-old, permanently blackened device known as the Toas-Tite. My mother bought it around 1950, she gave it to me when I got married and moved out, and I still use it — as recently as today.

The Toas-Tite consists of two cast-aluminum “clam shells” joined with a hinge and opened and closed with two long handles. In the most basic use of this gadget, one puts a slice of bread on one of the shells – with a little butter on the down side to prevent sticking. Lay on some cheese, maybe a slice of tomato, and then put on the second slice of bread  — again with a little butter on the outside. Close the handles and cut away the excess bread. Then grill the contents over whatever heat source is handy, turning the Toas-Tite frequently to avoid burning the bread while the cheese melts. When the Toas-Tite is opened, the result is a sealed round hot sandwich.

Of course there is no limit to the type  of bread or the nature of the filling one can use  in a Toas-Tite. I stick to the traditional melted cheese, sometimes adding ham and bacon and — just this afternoon — olive loaf. But I saw a recipe today that involved bleu cheese, figs, and prosciutto, and another that called for bananas and peanut butter. I also saw a variation in which already–prepared crepes were used instead of bread.

Recently, we introduced another generation to the Toas-Tite — namely, our ten-year-old granddaughter Alexa. She’s hooked.

The patent for the original Toas-Tite was issued in 1949. A later version, which used sheet instead of cast aluminum, was inferior because it was too easy to burn the bread before the filling was melted or thoroughly toasted. Although the Toas-Tite hasn’t been manufactured for many years, it is possible to buy the original model on the Internet.

Except for being blackened by repeated heating, the Toas-Tite I have is just as it was when Mom bought it and probably will last long enough for Alexa to spring it on her own kids. I don’t think it’s simplistic to say that it’s a testament to the manufacturing standards of the past. I like that about it, but what I like most is that it’s a tangible, useable link to my mother, and one that she would have appreciated.

You can find a lot of information about the Toas-Tite, including recipes, at THIS LINK.


6 Responses to “The Toas-Tite: 60 years old and still cookin’”

  1. Many years ago, while in junior high, I went on a camping trip with a friend and her family. They placed jam between the two slices of bread and toasted the treat over the campfire. I’ve always remembered this because the contraption was so unique. And now I know what it is called! Thanks!

    • charlespaolino Says:

      Yes, I wasn’t aware of this until recently, but the Toas-Tite was regarded as essential equipment by campers. My only experience with it has been in the kitchen.

  2. Chris Says:

    I didn’t know you could still get them. I think that would make a great gift for “a Certain Party”, as your mother used to say.

    • charlespaolino Says:

      I looked at eBay last night, and there were several for sale at widely varying prices. You have to make sure to get the original. The later version was no good. I read on one web site that a guy bought one that was still in the box and had never been used, so it’s worth looking around.

  3. bronxboy55 Says:

    When I was young we had a similar device that we used for grilled cheese, but I’m pretty sure it was square, rather than round. It, too, was quite old and worked great — probably a knock-off of the Toas-Tite. I wonder where it is now. Thanks for the memories!

  4. shoreacres Says:

    I was introduced to the concept about five years ago in a Texas Hill Country cabin. The one we used was square, also, but it was aluminum. Very heavy, and very nice.

    At least you may have solved one other mystery for me. I recently learned Smuckers markets a frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread. It’s also round, with crimped edges. I’ve not been able to figure out why they chose to make them round, but it may have been because of the Toas-Tite tradition.

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