…from the Perspectives’ Kitchen
How you doin’? All the way back in the late 1940s a couple of entrepreneurs started making a unique grilled and sealed sandwich called a Toas-Tite. The Toas-Tite sandwich press was originally designed for campfire cooking and was ubiquitous in the 1950s.
It was (and still is) quite simple. Just lay a sandwich (with cheese in the middle and buttered bread on the outside) on one side of the circular metal mold, clamp down with the other side, using a sharp knife, trim the off the crust and heat for a minute or two on each side over a campfire or on a gas stove top.
As a kid my brother and I loved them as it gave us the freedom to make hot sandwiches to our own taste without messing up our mother’s kitchen. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t make—salami and cheese, ham and cheese, bacon and cheese and then we got into making Toas-Tites with eggs and then even cherry and apple hand pies with a tablespoon of sweetened cream cheese.
Joan and I created a sandwich program for am/pm convenience stores for ARCO gas stations and produced Mighty-Melts—a square-shaped spinoff of Toas-Tites. We even got a waffle iron company to run the production molds of these “machines.” By the way, in Sidney, Australia they called Jaffles.
When we were disposing of some of our seldom used equipment in the test kitchen, we reluctantly sold several of the originals Toast-Tite irons and even two of the long-handled campfire versions. We even sold off the original proto-type Mighty-Melt press.
I bring this up because my brother recently sent me a replica of the 1949 original that he found on Amazon. I was thrilled and a made a bunch of Toas-Tites over the BBQ grill over the weekend. Our guests loved them, and they were still as great as I remembered.
So why are these coming back on the market 80 years later? It seemed that two sisters, Sue and Jan, had one crazy idea. Growing up in the Northwest Chicago suburbs during the sixties, their Mom’s Toas-Tite grilled cheese pudgy pie, along with hot tomato soup, was as much a part of the winter experience as skating on the pond in their backyard.
Fast forward 30 years at a road side table, during an outing to the Covered Bridge Festival, Sue finds a Toas-Tite Pie Iron, just like the one she remembered. It was an instant flashback with smiles and OMGs followed by “I have to have it.” But one just wouldn’t do. Jan wanted one for herself, and what about getting one for each of the kids?
Upon searching the internet, Jan saw that they are not the only ones wondering what happened to the Toas-Tite? Why isn’t anyone making these anymore? Now the crazy part… Sue and Jan, along with their spouses, dipped into their retirement funds and spent most of 2010 and 2011 going through all the necessary steps to bring the Toas-Tites pie irons back to the market.
September 2011, the sisters relaunched the Toas-Tite Pie Iron at a street fair on Broadway, in New York City. So, for those who remember the original… they’re baaaack! Now you can make these great mighty melt Toas-Tites for your kids and grandkids just like you used to enjoy them when you were a kid.
Prep time: 2 minutes
Grill time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 Toas-Tite sandwich
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 slices of bread (large size loaf)
2 slices of American cheese (I prefer Kraft singles)
2 slices of crisp bacon, cut in half
ChefSecret: Like candy bars, loaves of bread have gotten smaller and may not be big enough to cover the Toas-Tite grill. Try rolling out the bread with a rolling pin or simply cut of a third piece of bread in half and fit it in—close the grill and start cooking.
Quip of the Day: “I love Toas-Tites. Let’s face it, life is better between two pieces of bread.”
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