Have you been toaster shopping lately? It’s been some time for me. We’ve used an under the counter toaster oven for at least the last 5 years. It died a while ago. And much to our dismay, we discovered they don’t make them anymore. This discovery opened up a whole world of choices. Do we get a counter top toaster oven? How about convection ovens or a rotisserie? And while we’re at it – I hate our microwave, can we do some sort of fancy combination appliance?

Reality soon called however. A careful review revealed that we only used the toaster “oven” for the occasional cheese toast or cheese crackers (which we’d be better off without). What we really needed was a toaster (which we kept describing to the kids as that ‘thing’ they use at hotels during continental breakfast). Being a family of five the only requirement I had was that it be a 4 slice size.

My husband and I set off one Saturday morning on the seemingly simple task of purchasing a toaster. Our first stop quickly revealed that this task was going to be a bit more complicated than assumed. Faced with numerous prices, brands, and features – I made a quick decision. Let’s go drink coffee and eat bagels! After reviewing our findings we decided to purchase an inexpensive model that we’d replace as necessary. Fortified by food we set off to the next store. There we were presented with more brands and styles – what to do? I wanted cheap but also wanted fun features and my husband kept telling me about the $50 Cuisinart he’d seen at the warehouse store (which was much more expensive at all the other stores). On we went from store to store. Everywhere we looked there were more choices. There were toasters for $20, $30, $50 and even $80. The T-Fal with its slanted top looked so cool, the Black and Decker in stainless steel was sleek, the Sunbeam and Hamilton Beach were inexpensive. Back and forth we went, like children on a see-saw. Finally we settled on an inexpensive Toastmaster. We called the kids to tell them the toaster was on its way home. By the time it was out of the box and set up they were lined up with Eggos in hand. My husband tried side one - it worked fine. Then he tried side two, hmm, the handle seemed to stick and it didn’t “click” into place easily. We let one of the kids try it (sometimes we’re technology challenged) – it didn’t click for him either. We looked at each other with dismay. Now what? We did what modern people do- we went to the internet.

We pulled up Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart, Sears, Hecht’s, Best Buy, Circuit City, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s – even Williams and Sonoma and looked at their toasters. Now there were toasters that cost over $300, toasters in red, purple, yellow and lime, Pop art toasters, Hello Kitty toasters and Mickey Mouse toasters. We found toasters that had warming racks for croissants and toasters that toasted two slices of bread and warmed a loaf of bread at the same time. The list went on and on! We turned to – and discovered “customer reviews”. What entertainment! Really – if you’re ever feeling low, pull up toasters and skim thru the reviews. Reading the quandaries of people just like us looking for the perfect toaster . . . we were laughing hilariously, tears streaming down our face, and yet, what were we going to do? The Cuisinart we were considering had terrible reviews (though tremendously funny), and the T-Fal was just as bad (reviews almost as funny). We needed a toaster in this house! Our kids wanted their frozen waffles and I wanted bagels! We decided to return the cheap Toastmaster and purchase a mid-priced GE Select. It had “features” that satisfied me and it appeared durable enough for my husband. So far so good, toast, waffles, and bagels – all seem to be toasting just fine.

Who knew buying a toaster was such a major decision? Either I have some deep problems with making decisions – or the world has gotten out of hand with offering choice.

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