Toaster Review - Color My World with KitchenAid, Please? UPDATED
Jun 30, 2000 (Updated Jul 28, 2002)
Review by pluckyduck
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:many cool colors, even toasting, useful features, easy to clean
Cons:"frozen" feature does not toast waffles evenly
The Bottom Line: Stylish and reliable, you won't be disappointed.
Empire Red. Majestic Yellow. Empire Green. Almond Cream. Onyx Black. Cobalt Blue. Go-With-Anything White.
Recommend this product?
KitchenAid's Countertop Collection of small appliances is breathtaking - not just for their modern, yet somehow retro design, but also for the vibrant, vivid colors offered for each appliance. Imagine your kitchen, as I did mine ---- an Empire Red mixer, a Majestic Yellow blender, a Cobalt Blue toaster. Surely, with such a brilliant boldness on my kitchen countertop, Home & Garden magazine would soon be knocking on my door. (It's possible that the fact that the entire kitchen needs a massive renovation from the 1970's décor might have put off H&G, but, in my daydream, these colorful appliances hid all of the kitchen's flaws, and photographers flocked to take pictures.)
Well, today I have the KitchenAid stand mixer, blender and toaster from this collection, but my daydream over. Believe it or not, every durn one of them is black. Sigh.
The first two are my husband's fault, purchased as a birthday present for me a year ago. I know that I told him the assortment of colors was what drew me to the appliance collection, but all he remembered was "Wife wants KitchenAid stand mixer and blender." When I asked him why, out of 8 colors, he would pick black for both, he responded, "Well, they matched the coffee maker and the refrigerator." Hrrumph. First time the man ever tried to match anything, including his socks.
Two months ago I got the Jones for a new small appliance, and I was tired of a series of $20 toasters that never seemed to toast properly. Suddenly, I had to have a new and fancy toaster, and I had to have it now. I turned to my favorite small appliance pusher, Tavolo.com, and went to hunt down my KitchenAid Collection toaster, leaning toward Empire Red, but considering Majestic Yellow, or, oh, perhaps Cobalt Blue.
Here's where addiction to immediate gratification gets me into trouble. When the urge to purchase a small appliance comes upon me, and the credit card is clear enough to handle the purchase without strain, I have to have my fix, and I have to have it immediately.
Tavolo.com had my KitchenAid Ultra Power Plus toaster. Now, what color to pick? Pondering the colors, I finally chose Empire Red and threw it in my cart. Out of stock! Hit the back button on the browser. All right, Majestic Yellow. Out of stock! Hit the back button on the browser. All right, Cobalt Blue. Out of stock! A couple more disappointments later, and I discovered that they were out of all but almond, white and black. Opening another browser and checking in with Cooking.com, I found the same sorry state of colorless affairs. Sadly shaking my head, I went back to Tavolo.com and said to myself, "Well, black goes with the Stand Mixer, Blender, Coffee Maker and Refrigerator." Onyx Black toaster in my cart immediately, and in my kitchen just a few days later.
The Toaster - Looking Good!
The toaster is beautiful. Long, sleek and sharp, it reeks of "gourmet kitchen" . The "Clean Touch" control pad, with digital display, has that techno look - could be part of a microwave or small spaceship. Even though I had been hoping for a different color, the toaster is a beautiful addition to my kitchen. The Onyx Black is rich and shiny, dressing up the otherwise shabby piece of counter space allotted to it.
Speaking of counter space allotment, beware the length (16") of this appliance. Due to the digital control pad, you cannot orient toaster placement any way other than full length across the countertop. If you try to turn it sideways to save space (as I did), the control pad is awkward, to the point of being unusable. It will use much more of your counter space than an average toaster and is only for larger kitchens or the kitchens of people who don't have a compulsion to buy and display a variety of small appliances.
Fancy Features I like
* Extra long, extra wide slot - good for thick breads, bagels, odd shaped but toastable items
* Self Centering Bread Rack - adjusts to "trap" your bread, thick or thin
* Extra Lift Lever - pull up to give your bread a boost -- eliminating the need for the fork-in-the-toaster trick
* Bagel Button - adjusts the toaster to brown bagels evenly
* Frozen Button - first thaws, then toasts frozen waffles and pastries
* Reheat Button - warms previously toasted, now cold, breads without toasting them further
Features that leave me neutral
KitchenAid touts its "Even Heat System" and "Accu Sense Toasting", saying "Advanced-design heating elements ensure even toasting. Heavy-gauge wire elements promote long term durability. Heat sensor and microprocessor ensure even toasting every time"
Those features are a little fancier than I can comprehend. I still can't get used to the idea of a microchip in my toaster, but I will say it does seem to toast a bit more evenly than the other, far less fancy, models I've had in the past. Whether it is the advanced-design heating elements, microprocessor or heat sensor that are responsible, I can't say.
I'm also neutral about the "Precision Touch Darkness Control with Digital Display". Instead of turning a dial (as on a standard toaster), you use a touch pad to arrow up or down, telling the toaster what darkness you would like your toast. While that does seem like a bit of overkill for a piece of toast, my 6-year-old had fun with the touch pad and half a loaf of bread, experimenting as to exactly which number gave him the exact results he wanted. He has settled on #4 for his toast, by the way.
What I don't like
My only gripe with the toaster is how it performs when using the "Frozen" button feature.
The concept is good (which is why the button appears under the "Fancy Features I like" section). The toaster uses warmth rather than direct toasting heat to first thaw, and then toast your frozen bread item. Since my family consumes a ton of frozen waffles, this was one of the most highly anticipated features.
And it works, sort of. It produces a finished waffle that is much more similar to an old-fashioned waffle, crispy but not overdone on the outside, and warm and soft on the inside. For some reason though, the two sides of the waffle are always done unevenly, with one much more toasted than the other. Since the fresh bread and bagels are always toasted evenly, I have to assume that the thawing feature somehow thaws unevenly, making the subsequent toasting uneven.
If we didn't eat waffles so much, this flaw wouldn't bug me the way that it does. My husband likes to remind me, every few days, that I spent $100 on a toaster that can't get the waffles toasted evenly on both sides. And I can't help but remind myself that the toaster is black instead of Empire Red. If I didn't torture myself a little, I wouldn't be me.
Would I recommend this toaster to someone else?
For me, this is a good toaster. Small appliances that look nice and have some extra features make me happy. It's easy to clean, it toasts well, and my kids have fun with the buttons.
It would be a good toaster for people who like to use small appliances to accent their kitchen décor, for someone who is looking for colors that are beyond the boring. It toasts well and I can't imagine anyone being truly disappointed in it.
Well, is it worth a $100?
It seems well-designed and is backed up by the KitchenAid name. Only having had the toaster a couple of months, I can't speak to its durability. A normal toaster pretty much lasts forever. Something tells me that all of the fancy features on this toaster will make it expire before a normal toaster would.
To be worth $100 to you, you would have to be the sort of person who enjoys a gadgety small appliance that performs a basic kitchen task well. I'm getting my $100 worth of enjoyment from the style and the convenience of the little features like "reheat" and "bagel".
Of course, I'd be getting more than my money's worth enjoyment if I had been able to get a brilliant Empire Red, or Majestic Yellow, or Cobalt Blue model. Ah well. There's always the KitchenAid Countertop Collection Food Processor, (comes in all those great colors!) the next time I get a Jones.
Update, 7/28/02 - Two years later, nary a problem. Big thumbs up. (My waffles are still kind of squishy though)
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