Toast (food)

Toast is sliced bread that has been browned by radiant heat. The browning is the result of a Maillard reaction altering the flavor of the bread and making it firmer. The firm surface is easier to spread toppings on and the warmth can help butter reach its melting point. Toasting is a common method of making stale bread more palatable. Bread is toasted using a toaster or a toaster oven. Toast may contain carcinogens (acrylamide) caused by the browning process.[1]

Sliced bread, untoasted and toasted
Serving temperatureToasted
Main ingredientsSliced bread

Butter or margarine, and sweet toppings, such as jam or jelly, are commonly spread on toast. Regionally, savory spreads, such as peanut butter or yeast extract, may also be popular. Toast may accompany savory dishes such as soups or stews, or it can be topped with ingredients like eggs or baked beans to make a light meal. Toast is a common breakfast food. A sandwich may also use toasted bread.

Etymology and history

The word toast comes from the Latin torrere 'to burn'.[2] One of the first references to toast in print is in a recipe for Oyle Soppys (flavoured onions stewed in a gallon of stale beer and a pint of oil) from 1430.[3] In the 1400s and 1500s, toast was discarded or eaten after it was used as a flavoring for drinks.[3] In the 1600s, toast was still thought of as something to be put into drinks.[3] In his 1602 play The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare gives Falstaff the line: "Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in't."[4] Toast has been used as an element of American haute cuisine since at least the 1850s.[5] Toasting is a common method of making stale bread more palatable.


Sliced bread is commonly used in modern preparations; some of these specifically market their suitability for toasting.[6]


A classic two-slot toaster

In a modern home kitchen, toast is usually made in a special-purpose electrical appliance, a toaster. Sliced bread is placed into the slots on the top of the toaster, the desired degree of toasting is set, and a lever is pushed down to expose the bread to the heated elements. The toast is popped up when it is ready. Bread toasted in a conventional toaster can "sweat" when it is served (i.e. water collects on the surface of the cooled toast). This occurs because moisture in the bread becomes steam while being toasted due to heat and when cooled the steam condenses into water droplets on the surface of the bread.[7]

It can also be toasted by a conveyor toaster, which device is often used in hotels, restaurants, and other food service locations. It works by having one heating element on the top and one on the bottom with a metal conveyor belt in the middle which carries the toast between the two heating elements. This allows toast to be made continuously, as more slices can be added at any time without waiting for previous ones to pop up.

Toaster ovens are special small appliances made for toasting bread or for heating small amounts of other foods.

Alternative preparations

Bread can also be toasted under a grill (or broiler), in an open oven, or lying on an oven rack. This "oven toast" is usually buttered before toasting. It can also be made by heating bread in a skillet or pan.[8] Bread can also be toasted by holding it near, but not directly over, an open flame, such as a campfire or fireplace; special toasting utensils (e.g. toasting forks) are made for this purpose.


Left: Toast with butter and vegemite. Right: With butter and strawberry jam.
Toasted breads in West Bengal, India, used during teatime.

Toast is most commonly eaten with butter or margarine spread over it, and may be served with preserves, spreads, or other toppings in addition to or instead of butter. Toast with jam or marmalade is popular. A few other condiments that can be enjoyed with toast are chocolate spread, cream cheese, and peanut butter. Yeast extracts such as Marmite in the UK, New Zealand and South Africa, and Vegemite in Australia are considered national traditions. Some sandwiches, such as the BLT,[9] call for toast to be used rather than bread.

Toast is an important component of many breakfasts. In the United Kingdom, toast is part of a traditional breakfast: it may be incorporated in a full breakfast or eaten with baked beans. A dish popular there with children is eggs and soldiers. Strips of toast (the soldiers) are dipped into the runny yolk of a soft-boiled egg through a hole made in the top of the eggshell, and eaten.[10]

Toast is also used in some traditional bland specialty diets for people with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. This is because toasting breaks down the starch in the bread and makes it easier to digest.[11]

In southern Sri Lanka, it is common for toast to be paired with a curry soup and mint tea. In Japan, people like to toast thick slices of bread.[12] Toast became a staple dish in Japan after World War II, especially after it was introduced in school lunches throughout the country due to the shortage of rice.[13] Thick slices of toasted bread are also eaten in regions of the US, where they are known as Texas toast. Street vendors in South Korea serve toast with a variety of toppings, usually fried eggs, vegetables and slices of meat, topped with sauces. Korean toast is to be eaten as a sandwich.[14] In Southeast Asia, coconut jam is a popular spread for toast. Avocado toast is seen as a symbol of millennial culture.[15][16]

By 2013, "artisanal toast" had become a significant food trend in upscale American cities like San Francisco, where some commentators decried the increasing number of restaurants and bakeries selling freshly made toast at what was perceived to be an unreasonably high price.[17][18]

Health concerns

Toasted bread may contain Benzo[a]pyrene and high levels of acrylamide, a carcinogen generated during the browning process.[19] High acrylamide levels can also be found in other heated carbohydrate-rich foods.[1] The darker the surface colour of the toast, the higher its concentration of acrylamide.[19] That is why, according to the recommendations made by the British Food Standards Agency, bread should be toasted to the lightest colour acceptable.[20] As of 2019 epidemiological studies suggest it is unlikely that dietary acrylamide consumption increases the risk of developing cancer.[21]

Cultural references

Another popular idiom associated with the word "toast" is the expression "to toast someone's health", which is typically done by one or more persons at a gathering by raising a glass in salute to the individual. This meaning is derived from the early meaning of "toast", which from the 1400s to the 1600s meant warmed bread that was placed in a drink.[22] By the 1700s, there were references to the drink in which toast was dunked being used in a gesture that indicates respect: "Ay, Madam, it has been your Life's whole Pride of late to be the Common Toast of every Public Table."[3]

The slang idiom "you're toast", "I'm toast", or "we're toast" is used to express a state of being "outcast", "finished", "burned, scorched, wiped out, [or] demolished" (without even the consolation of being remembered, as with the slang term "you're history")."[2] The first known use of "toast" as a metaphorical term for "you're dead" was in the film Ghostbusters (1984), in which Bill Murray's character Peter Venkman declares, "This chick is toast", before the Ghostbusters attempt to burn the villain with their nuclear-powered weapons.[3] "Hey, dude. You're toast, man", which appeared in The St. Petersburg Times of Oct. 1, 1987, is the "...earliest [printed] citation the Oxford English Dictionary research staff has of this usage."[2] In marijuana slang, to be "toasted" is to experience cannabis intoxication.[23]

Humorous observations have been made about buttered toast. It has been noted that buttered toast has a perceived tendency, when dropped, to land with the buttered side to the floor, the least desirable outcome. Although the concept of "dropped buttered toast" was originally a pessimistic joke, a 2001 study of the buttered toast phenomenon found that when dropped from a table, a buttered slice of toast landed butter-side down at least 62% of the time.[24] The phenomenon is widely believed to be attributable to the combination of the size of the toast and the height of the typical dining table, which means that the toast will not rotate far enough to right itself before encountering the floor.[25] A joke that plays on this tendency is the buttered cat paradox; if cats always land on their feet and buttered toast always lands buttered side down, it questions what happens when buttered toast is attached to a cat's back.

A more recent cultural phenomenon is the popularity of avocado toast, which is toast spread with mashed avocado. It is associated with the Millennial generation in particular as a stereotypical food consumed by that group.[15][16]

Other foods which are toasted

Cheese and marshmallows are also toasted by exposure to dry radiant heat.[26][27] A toasted cheese sandwich features toasted cheese and toasted bread. Bagels, English muffins, Pop Tart pastries, and crumpets are foods that can also be toasted.

See also


  1. Tareke, E.; Rydberg, P.; et al. (2002). "Analysis of acrylamide, a carcinogen formed in heated foodstuffs". J. Agric. Food Chem. 50 (17): 4998–5006. doi:10.1021/jf020302f. PMID 12166997.
  2. "History Is Toast". The New York Times. 20 April 1997. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  3. Martin, Gary. "The toast of the town". Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  4. Shakespeare, William (7 February 2019). "Act 3, Scene 5". In Mowat, Barbara A.; Werstine, Paul (eds.). The Merry Wives of Windsor. Folger Shakespeare Library. p. 125.
  5. Barry-Jester, Anna Maria (29 March 2016). "Toast Has Been A Fad For 150 Years". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  6. Desk, News (8 November 2016). "Kingsmill launches loaf of bread designed specifically for toasting". FoodBev Media. Retrieved 19 February 2019. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  7. "FAQs". The Toaster Museum Foundation. 10 January 2017. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  8. "Toss Out Your Toaster, You Don't Need It". Epicurious. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  9. Bonné, Jon (12 September 2006). "Three ingredients, all vying for the top: The secret to the BLT is a perfect balance of terrific tastes". NBC Today Show.
  10. "Egg with Toast Soldiers". Archived from the original on 4 March 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  11. "50 Easy to Digest Foods to Avoid an Upset Stomach". Unfold Today. 2 January 2021. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  12. McCurry, Justin (12 July 2019). "Using their loaf: Japanese elevate humble art of making toast". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  13. "Japanology Plus 2016 05 12 Breakfast". YouTube. 11 August 2016. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  14. "When Toast Isn't Just Bread and Butter: Korean Street Toast". The Kraze. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  15. Levin, Sam (15 May 2017). "Millionaire tells millennials: if you want a house, stop buying avocado toast". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  16. "Avocado Toast". Know Your Meme. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  17. O'Dell, J. (21 August 2013). "$4 toast: Why the tech industry is ruining San Francisco". VentureBeat.
  18. Gravois, John (13 January 2014). "A Toast Story: How did toast become the latest artisanal food craze? Ask a trivial question, get a profound, heartbreaking answer". Pacific Standard.
  19. Jackson, L.S. & Al-Taher, F. (2005). Effects of consumer food preparation on acrylamide formation. Adv. Exp. Med. Biol. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. Vol. 561. pp. 447–465. doi:10.1007/0-387-24980-X_34. ISBN 978-0-387-23920-0. PMID 16438318.
  20. "Acrylamide". Food Standards Agency. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  21. "Acrylamide and Cancer Risk". Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  22. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Toast" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 1035.
  23. "Cannabis intoxication". Wiktionary. 28 June 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  24. Matthews, Robert (27 May 2001). "Breakfast at Murphy's (or why the toast lands butter-side down)". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  25. Devlin, Keith (July 1998). "Buttered Toast and Other Patterns". Mathematical Association of America.
  26. Freeman, Bobby (1996). First Catch Your Peacock. Y Lolfa. p. 154. ISBN 978-0-86243-315-4.
  27. Brocket, Jane (2009). Turkish delight & treasure hunts: Delightful treats and games from classic children's books. Penguin Group. p. no page number. ISBN 978-1-101-44325-5.
  • The dictionary definition of toast (food) at Wiktionary
  • Media related to Toast at Wikimedia Commons
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.