Our 19 year old Hamilton Beach toaster finally gave up the ghost, and we had a gift card to an appliance store which featured Cuisinart toasters, so we plunked down 79 bucks and took the plunge. I assumed the Cuisinart reputation would be upheld; after all, a toaster isn't exactly a technological breakthrough. All a good one needs are burners and a timer.
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After a while we started referring to this appliance as the "before and after" toaster. Because, no matter what setting you tried or button you pushed, one side of the bread would be totally white and the other burned to a crisp. So you got a look at what the bread looked like before you put it in the toaster, and what it looked like after it was burned.
I assumed there might be a "break in" period, but after three months of experimenting with different settings, and even trying the bagel setting on regular bread, I gave up and returned the toaster to the store.
Even if it had worked, the "extra wide" slots weren't terribly wide, as cutting a kaiser roll in half meant you had to cram it into the toaster, which crushed the bread. It barely fit, while most bagels did not. You might get a small Lender's bagel to fit, but a "real" bagel from a bakery would not.
There are setting buttons for bagels and frozen items. The bagel setting did nothing new to a bagel, as it burned one side and left the other untouched. The frozen setting left you standing there for five minutes waiting for toast.
As for the cleaning tray, well, you'd be better off turning the thing upside down and shaking it out.
Obviously I got a lemon here, but then, as I was packing it up for return, I saw the dreaded "made in China" notation on the box. (By the way, I called a few major appliance companies, and it turned out that all toasters are made in China these days.)
Seriously, can toasters be that hard to manufacture in the US? If you're going to charge that much for a toaster, consumers have a right to expect quality workmanship.
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Amount Paid (US$): 79