The best parts of Black Friday

This Bryce Harper garden gnome that looks nothing like Bryce Harper but is all kinds of creepy, especially as you imagine it lurking in your garden.

This anti-snoring solution that has made the 2017 list of Oprah’s favorite things. The device listens to snoring and then inflates under your pillow as you sleep, pushing your head around until the snoring stops. The video is great.

This $200 toaster that says “TOAST” on the side. How else will you know what to do with the machine? But the idea of clamps for holding bread slices is great. I say this as someone who’s recently been toasting mini-English muffins.

What’s your favorite part of the 1972 book about life in 2010?

Probably: “The toast starts life as ordinary sliced bread. An arm in the toaster picks up the bread and passes it in front of heating elements. When it is toasted, the arm throws you the toast.” Or the shower.

Find your favorite at 2010: Living in the future | the book.

Related: When will the transparent toaster come to America? “Now hungry users can watch as they brown baguettes, muffins, crumpets, buns and teacakes to perfection and take them out at just before they become too crispy.” Link via Jess. Toast can’t be too crispy but still…

Another take on the transparent toaster? “Misleadingly Named New Magimix Kitchen Gadget Is Just a Torture Chamber for Toast.”

And a take with great video: “Magimix knows they have something incredible, ahem, cooking with this thing. That has to be why they made this video about their toaster, complete with music that sounds like it came out of a late-night social encounter commercial.”

Last thing? A story exploring why we like toast and how toast is born.

When you make toast, you are activating something called the Maillard reaction on the surface of the bread. The Maillard reaction is what causes the browning to occur. The heat inside the toaster boils off the moisture on the surface of the bread, and then the surface gets hot enough for the Maillard reaction to take place. It is a reaction that appeals to the senses. We see the result of the reaction as browning. Sugars and proteins combine together to create the pleasant flavors and smells that we associate with toast.

If you’re gonna write about toasters …

… write about toasters. Be the guy in England who’s making a toaster from scratch. How from scratch? He starts by mining the materials, with the aid of an old miner and an abandoned mine. Then he has to smelt. “For example, my first attempt to extract metal involved a chimney pot, some hair-dryers, a leaf blower, and a methodology from the 15th century…” This attempt fails, so he uses a microwave. The tale goes on, at one point prompting the question, “So are toasters ridiculous?”

Not as ridiculous as writing a NYT column titled “Attack of the Toaster Oven” when no such thing happens in that column. So disappointing.

Why I fly: To learn about toasters

This blog likes airplane mags more than it does airplanes, so getting one of the magazines without taking to the sky is a steal. Thank you, St. Paul swag bag. The fact that you bring me toast is cake. In the August issue of Northwest’s World Traveler, we get the innovation.

Toasting isn’t exactly rocket science, but that hasn’t stopped toaster-maker Breville from trying to remove any residual anxiety we might have over gently scorching a piece of bread. Amazingly, the feature list on the company’s Die-Cast Smart Toaster is comparable to some home stereo equipment I own. The toaster comes with soft-eject motorized toast slots, as well as a toasting “spectrum analyzer.” If there’s any way to screw up toast, Breville has apparently thought of how to prevent it. There’s a “Lift and Look” feature that will raise your bread and bagels halfway through a given cycle so you can eyeball the toasting progress. Not quite brown enough? No problem. Breville added the “A Bit More” button for just a touch more browning.”

See the Die-Cast Smart Toaster in all its glory on Breville’s site, along with a sexy shot of raisin toast. This blog continues to apologize for its disproportionate interest in toasters. But they’re awesome.

I just wanna put you in a toaster

“DO NOT PREPARE IN CONVENTIONAL OR TOASTER OVEN.” Why? What did I do to you, Lean Cuisine? What kind of a company stops me from putting a panini in a toaster? A toaster isn’t a grill, I know. But if you want me to put some grill lines on a thing, you’ve gotta let me put some fire on it. Some heat on one side, a rack in the middle, some grill lines on the other. It’s like a recipe for cooks who don’t combine things. Cooks like me.

I know the company has to back up its “Revolutionary Grilling Tray,” but my microwave tells the truth. Revolutionary tray, high heat, no grill marks. At least I couldn’t find any.

I didn’t follow the instruction for waiting five minutes between the freezer and the microwave, but do you think the panini’s inventor had such concerns? “Culinary lore recounts that Nunzio Panini accidentally invented the panino when he stuffed grilled eggplant and goat cheese into bread hot out of the oven,” one source says. Does it sound like Nunzio Panini was working slowly? No indeed. I follow in his footsteps.

Sure, by more likely accounts, the story of Nunzio Panini is absolutely, completely bogus. It’s possibly the work of an industriously creative Fort Lauderdale restaurant owner, who should be applauded for his work influencing the easily influenced Internet. But it’s the principle of the thing. You can’t just push a button and expect the markings of fire. Bread does not grill by man alone.