National Toast Day (UK)
the last Tuesday in February (2014 to 2016)
the last Thursday in February (since 2017)
Tiptree World Bread Awards in 2014
How do you like your toast? Barely toasted, almost burnt, or somewhere in between? What do you like to put on it? Butter? Jelly? Peanut butter? Avocado? Or do you like to take two pieces of toast and make a sandwich filled with all kinds of things? Participants in National Toast Day celebrate toast today, not merely by toasting bread and putting something on it, but by turning toast into "edible art" and sharing photos of it on social media. The day is organized by those behind the Tiptree World Bread Awards, and they give out prizes to those they deem to have made the best toast art. (Tiptree is a brand of fruit preserves, conserves, and marmalade made in England by Wilkin & Sons Limited, so it makes sense they have an interest in toast.)
The word "toast" stems from the Latin word tostum, which can be defined as "to burn or scorch." Bread was probably first toasted to help preserve it, not because consumers necessarily wanted to eat toasted bread. Toasting bread became common in the Roman Empire and was likely first done there by laying bread on some stone in front of fires. Later, sticks and wire frames were used to hold the bread while toasting it. The first electric toaster was invented by Alan MacMasters in 1893. Although revolutionary, its wiring was known to melt, making it a fire hazard. Electricity was needed to power it, too, which was not yet universal at the time. After a more fire-resistant alloy was created in Chicago in 1905, more toasters were invented, which were much safer.
Until the automatic toast-turner was invented in 1913, toasters had only been able to toast one side of bread at a time, and the bread had to be flipped by hand. The semi-automatic toaster came on the market around the same time, which turned itself off after the bread was toasted. Then, the pop-up toaster that we know today was created in 1919 and granted a patent in 1921. Soon afterward, in 1927, Otto Frederick Rohwedder's bread-slicing machine came on the market, further increasing the popularity of bread and toast, and making toast even easier to make. Nowadays, it's as easy as ever to make toast, meaning there is plenty of time to not only make toast on National Toast Day but to make some edible toast art as well!
How to Observe National Toast Day (UK)
Celebrate the day by making and eating toast! To celebrate fully, make your toast into edible art and enter into the official National Toast Day contest. Share pictures of your toast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and tag them with the handle @BreadAwardsUK or @BreadAwardsUSA and #NationalToastDay. You are then eligible for the Prize Draw. In past years, prizes have included Tiptree Breakfast Hampers and KitchenAid Artisan breakfast sets. More info about how to participate in the Prize Draw can be found on the Tiptree World Bread Awards website, and examples from past winners can be found on the National Toast Day Facebook page.