Jason and the Argos Gnomes (Part Eleven): The Breville Sandwich Toaster

‘Dans le cuisine in a bi-linguistic mood…*’

For a time in the early 1980s, before microwave ovens became affordable to most households, convenience food would either be dehydrated or canned. Sometimes boil-in-the-bag. Well before tins, a good slice of toast with a brew predated that. Best served with butter and cut thickly of course.

Then, some time in the 1970s, came the hottest thing in many a kitchen. In more ways than one, both in terms of Gear Acquisition Syndrome and burning the throats of those who devoured many a toastie. Back in the late 1970s, one half of a comedy duo extolled its merits. (Oh, crumbs…)

The Breville Sandwich Toaster

Breville was among a number of manufacturers who popularised the sandwich toaster in many a UK household. In what was an inspired move, they chose Terry Scott to advertise its wares, to an adapted version of My Brother (sung as ‘My Breville’).

The Breville Sandwich Toaster fitted four standard size thick slices of bread (probably Mother’s Pride, though too big for a Warburtons loaf). Your filling was placed at the bottom end of the toaster, topped by another two slices of bread. Then, five minutes later, four slices of bread with a tasty filling.

Consistent with similar products, our four toasties sealed the filling, with the toast cut diagonally. On first bite… AAAAARRRRGGGGHHH! Cue burnt tongue, especially so with cheese and beans. Only a few years before McDonalds was seen in many a UK town large and small, willing to inflict similar torture on purchasers of their Hot Apple Pies.

Breville is still very much alive and well today, with many of their products in today’s Argos catalogues. Plus you can still buy their sandwich toasters. The legacy of which can be seen in today’s sandwich shops and cafés where paninis and toasted ciabattas remain a popular choice.

The name “Breville” is an amalgamation of its founders’ last names. In 1932, Bill O’Brien and Charles Henry Norville founded the company in Sydney, Australia, and started out making radios and mine detectors. They turned to small appliances in 1954 and, till 1968, manufactured television sets under the Precedent name. Its European division was sold to the Jarden Corporation.

  • Argos Catalogue edition: Spring/Summer 1981;
  • Page and item numbers: page 108, item 8;
  • 1981 Prices: £19.49;
  • 2014 Prices: £73.03.

S.V., 11 December 2014.

* I Was a Teenage Armchair Honved Fan, Half Man Half Biscuit (1986).

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