A Roast of the Toast

February 1, 2007 at 10:56 pm (Uncategorized)

My subscription woes with Vanity Fair have not been solved – I just received last month’s issue, not the issue currently on sale – but I was interested to see in the Fanfair section of the February issue a reference to a Siemens and Porsche Design toaster.

They’re calling it a “long slot” – presumably that means four slicer – but I find the whole concept rather a long shot. What is Porsche doing messing about with bread? Oh yes, of course, this isn’t just any old toaster – this long slot, brushed aluminium, state-of-the-art, precious-my-precious Porsche toaster comes complete with a memory chip that cleverly recalls how you like your bread done. Because of course, you’re patently too lazy or too stupid or too time poor to do that for yourself.

It’s toast. Toast. Do you know what a toaster does? It browns bread. That’s it. Finis. Kaput. End game. It browns bread. Now, we’ve recently gone for a four slicer, but it wasn’t just a mindless consumer rampage that brought the white shiny beast home. It was the fact that two of us live here, and, when we’re in a carbohydrate frame of mind, we each eat two slices of buttery Vegemite toast for breakfast. We’d battled on with our twenty buck, two slicer for something approaching ten years, so it didn’t seem too extravagant to upgrade to a toaster that enables us to sit down to hot toast at the same time. Praise be.

Whilst we were choosing our bread browner, we marvelled at the styles and prices of the other, apparently much more advanced models. Did you know you can actually spend something like $AUS500 on a toaster? I think the Russell & Hobbs toaster is about $300… and I think that’s for a two slicer. Sure, it’s all funky looking, and I like shiny things as much as the next person, but let’s be serious: it’s a toaster.

It isn’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of absurdity. I bet you started reading this and the first thing that came to mind was that Alessi tripod lemon squeezer from the early 90s. It is a classic example of the “more money than sense” world in which we live. Aside from its science fiction, the-aliens-have-landed novelty value, all that ridiculously expensive squeezer ever really said was “My owner is a nob.” Once a symbol of some highly sought after status or other, it’s now an international embarrassment to have one of these things on your kitchen countertop. It’s too gauche, dating too badly, and speaking too many volumes, too loudly and at too frightening a pitch.

Which brings me back to the Porsche toaster. I’m all for luxury items. I just like to choose my battles in line with my budget. I don’t want a Porsche toaster. I’m happy with my – hang on a sec, I just have to go to the kitchen to check – Sunbeam Thick ‘n’ Thin toaster. It does everything the Porsche toaster does – even the dial down the side, set to one spot for its entire life in my kitchen, remembers how I like my bread done. Wanting to own a Porsche I can understand. Buying a Porsche toaster because it’s as close as you’re ever getting I can’t. I get the aspirational bone aching somewhere in us all, I do, I am not without my own appetite for nice things, but I just think we’re well and truly on the other side of farcical now.

Where will it end? I’ve already seen Jeep is now manufacturing prams, complete with hilarious 4WD tyres. At least – and it’s a stretch – Jeeps and prams both have wheels. But Porsche and Tip Top…? Come, now, surely they jest.


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