Pros: Beautifully designed with some nice bells and whistles
I couldn't resist the gleaming chrome of the Black and Decker Classic Chrome Toaster beckoning on the shelf at Kohl's last summer. We had just moved into a larger house and I tossed my old white toaster after the handle broke off. I needed a new toaster that would look good on the dark countertops in my new kitchen.
I snagged the toaster for a mere $14.99 with a Kohl's coupon and a sale. The regular price was listed at $26.99. The two slice toaster features a chrome body with a black plastic handle and black plastic on each side. The 11x7x8 toaster has extra-wide slots that automatically adjust to enclose the item to be toasted.
The toaster definitely looked snazzy when I placed it on the kitchen countertop when I arrived home. One glance, and the hubby gave a thumbs up on the design.
Little did we know, that the design was probably the best part. Our first attempt at toast, ended up, as toast. Very, very dark toast. There are three general settings: light, medium and dark. The settings are not fixed, which means you can use the dial to set your darkness preference anywhere between the light and dark settings. So our first attempt at toast was set on medium. The toast came out quite dark, with several areas very dark.
The more we used the toaster, the more we discovered that the dial settings were a matter of hit or miss. Experimenting with the dark setting was a disaster, unless you happen to like your toast rock hard. Setting it on light one day would yield perfectly browned toast. On another day, the light setting would require toasting the bread twice. We have learned to use the light setting for Pop Tarts, with a finger on the cancel button if we start to smell the aroma of strawberry filling.
Speaking of buttons, there are three fancy selections. The aforementioned "cancel" button does just that: it cancels the toasting process and pops the contents upward. Trying to pull up the handle(which stops the cooking process on older model) will find you wrestling with the toaster as it continues to heat up. You will have to train your mind to connect the word "cancel" with "pop up the dang toast!"
The next button is the "Bagel" setting. This setting allows you to toast the inside of the bagel, leaving the outside soft and chewy. This one actually produces nice results, providing you leave the dial halfway between "light" and "medium."
The last, unique setting is "Frozen." This enables you to defrost and toast frozen items, such as waffles or frozen french toast. The nice part about this feature is that it defrosts the item so that when it is toasted, you have it warmed all the way through. Without this feature, you may end up with waffles nicely browned on the outside, and cold on the inside.
A nice plus to this model is the removable crumb tray. All of the previous models I owned had crumb trays that were attached to the bottom of the toaster. Previous attempts at cleaning crumbs meant that one had to hold the entire toaster over the sink and shake them loose. Having a removable tray means that I can wash the entire tray in soapy water and replace it with nary a crumb in sight. This means no more burning crumbs that permeate the air when you toast your breakfast.
I honestly do not know if this is just a defective toaster or if this particular model goes nuts on a regular basis for every owner. Almost a year has passed, so it is too late to return this model. It is covered by a one year warranty, so I could pursue that route and hope that a replacement will behave and toast consistently. I put up with the idiosyncrasies because the gleaming chrome looks sleek and modern and heck, occasionally we get a nice piece of toast out of it.