Known colloquially as a toastie maker, a sandwich toaster is an apparatus used to toast a sandwich. It is usually constructed with two metal plates that are hinged together. The sandwich can then be squeezed together as it cooks. This cooking utensil can either be heated by electricity or by an alternative heat source. Aside from a plain grilled cheese, several other types of sandwiches can be made with a sandwich toaster.
Two large metal plates are the main components of a sandwich maker, and they are usually held together with a hinge. This allows the plates to close over the sandwich, compressing it as it cooks. This is very similar to a waffle iron, but without the raised square blocks. Sometimes, each plate has a lip around the edges and diagonally across, cutting it in half. The lips help compress the edges and middle to ensure that the filling of the sandwich does not leak out.
On a modern sandwich toaster, the metal plates also typically have a nonstick surface. This will usually prevent sandwiches from sticking to the surface of the plates. This will not only make a more attractive sandwich, but it will also make cleaning the device a little easier.
Today, a sandwich toaster is usually an electrical appliance. When it is plugged in, electric coils next to the metal plates heat up. This causes the sandwich to cook, or toast. The outside of the appliance is typically encased in some type of material that protects the user from getting burnt.
Some sandwich makers also can be heated by an alternative heat source. A sandwich toaster that is held on a stove or over a camp fire are good examples of this. Instead of using electric coils, the heat from the stove or fire heats up the metal plates.
Many sandwich toaster advocates claim that the sandwich possibilities are endless with one of these devices. A grilled cheese sandwich is one of the more popular sandwiches that can be made in one of these, but there are also numerous variations. Some people choose to add meat, like ham or turkey, to the sandwich filling, for instance.
Originally, a sandwich toaster was not heated by electric. For years, a similar device, known as a jaffle iron, has been an essential way to cook a number of food items over a campfire. In the United States, the first sandwich toaster was patented in 1925, although the device had been popular for a time before that. It was patented by Charlie Champion, who also holds a patent for one of the first popcorn poppers.