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Dear KitchenAid: Our Toaster Died

KitchenAid Headquarters

1 KitchenAid Avenue

St. Joseph, Mich. (or maybe Missouri or Mississippi, because I forget what state MI is)

Dear KitchenAid;

I’m writing to give you the sad news that our four-slice KitchenAid toaster, Model KMTTSS0, has died.

Maybe it caught COVID-19. Ha-ha.

No, seriously, its demise was not exactly a surprise. It has not worked right since we bought it at a yard sale five years ago.

The two slots on the lefthand side would not stay down, suffering what I would call “premature ejection.” The bread would pop up before it was properly toasted, or sometimes the slot lever wouldn’t stay down at all. The righthand two slots worked perfectly. Sometimes so did the two left slots. Then, they didn’t. It was very frustrating, being given hope and then having it snatched away time after time.

We were like Charlie Brown, thinking that this time maybe Lucy wouldn’t snatch away the football when he went to kick it.

Please excuse the literary reference. I was an English major.

IF YOU’LL CHECK your records at the KitchenAid technical support center, you’ll find that I called in June 2019 to report the problem with our toaster. You may have to look it up by date and subject, since I don’t think I gave my name.

I remember speaking with a nice young woman, who asked helpful questions including, “Did you remember to plug it in?” and “Did you try plugging it into other outlets?” I told her, yes, I tried those things.

She said something else which I did not understand at the time. She said, “You may have the wrong kind of electricity.”

Now, I’m pretty sure our kitchen outlets, along with most of the outlets in our house, is 110-volt AC (alternating current) electricity. The kitchen stove and the clothes dryer use 220 volts, and I have no idea what the electric furnace and heat pump use. A thousand volts?

I never understood alternating current electricity anyway (English major, remember?) For starters, what does AC electricity do, anyway, just run back and forth, back and forth, on the wires? I don’t really understand DC (direct current) electricity either, but at least it seems to go from one place to another.

I asked the nice young woman (judging by her voice, which sounded youngish and was definitely female – at least you can tell THAT these days) to explain what the “wrong kind of electricity” meant, but her answer was either too technical or my mental capacity had been temporarily stunned by her statement, and I neither comprehended nor remember what she said.

I have long suspected, however, that because we are located at the far end of the line from the power plant, whatever electricity makes it to our house is either stale or tired, or whatever happens to electricity does after it goes past its “best if used by” date. This would explain a lot, like when the TV, computer and internet go haywire, the first thing tech help tells you to do is to unplug them for 30 seconds. This, I suspect, allows the buildup of stale electricity to evaporate and fresh electricity to reach your electronic gadget.

FORTUNATELY WE HAD a backup toaster, a two-slice Oster brand model, which is working very well, thanks for asking. We got it at – you guessed it – a yard sale.

In retrospect, it’s entirely understandable why our KitchenAid toaster was put in a yard sale, but why the two-slot Oster? Perhaps its family moved up to a four-slotter. Keeping up with the Joneses? The siren call of a newer model? A big family with everyone wanting toast at the same time? Rush, rush, hurry, hurry, that’s the American way of life.

You might expect me to complain about the likelihood that planned obsolescence killed our KitchenAid toaster, but I won’t. I myself am a product of planned obsolescence, gradually wearing out even as shiny new, more energetic models- the grandsons – have been created to replace me and are in various stages of growth and training.

You may also wonder why we didn’t replace the quirky toaster long ago. Well, for one, we are frugal people. We had an investment in it, and wanted to get our money’s worth, which I would annualize at about a dollar per year of use. The other motive was the attractive American character trait of giving an erring person or machine the chance to “straighten up and fly right,” as my mother Ol’ Food used to say.

Our patience ran out last week, and now your Model KMTTSSO is heading for the recycling center. Someday it will become part of something new, like a bridge or bicycle. But definitely not a refrigerator, which they apparently do not make anymore. We ordered one last April 14, and Lowe’s now tells us to expect delivery in March, if ever.

So don’t get me started on that.

(Fred Miller’s new book of 100 stories, “Falling Under Honey’s Spell,” is available locally at Connie’s Kitchen, Davis Bros. Pharmacies, Frank’s Pastry, Giant Eagle Calcutta, Green Marble Coffee, Museum of Ceramics, and Pottery City Antique Mall, or at fredmilleratlarge.com.)

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