Courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society

Charles P. Strite
  • Product Design

Charles P. Strite was born in Minneapolis and was working in a manufacturing plant in Stillwater, Minnesota, when he invented the first automatic, pop-up toaster. At the factory’s cafeteria, Strite observed that much of the toast was burned, so he began working on a machine that would toast bread automatically and stop heating when browned. His design included many improvements over other rudimentary toasters of the time, including: two heating elements that toasted both sides of a slice of bread at the same time; a timer that turned off the electricity to the heating elements; and a spring that ejected, or “popped up,” the toast when the timer went off. His device became known as the Toastmaster. Strite formed the Waters Genter company and began selling his new appliance first to restaurants and later, in 1926, to consumers with a model that allowed the user to select the darkness of the toast by adjusting a lever on the side of the toaster.