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In numerous cartoons, video games, movies, etc., I've seen how a toaster makes the toasted bread jump high up in the air when done, forcing the user to catch them mid-air or pick them up after they've come back down, resting on top of the toaster.

In real life, I can't remember ever using such a toaster. The current one we have just makes the toasted bread "go up", but it requires me to manually press up the handle for them to come up to the point where my other hand can pick them up and put them on my plate (with fingers that hurt from the heat).

It sounds absolutely idiotic that it would just launch the slices of bread up into the air. I assume that this is yet another stupid thing in movies/fiction, like how those water sprinklers in the ceiling of office buildings don't all start splashing water all over the entire floor just because somebody makes a fire/smoke near one of them; it will just be that one that "goes off". Anything else would be insanity. Madness. Idiotic waste of money from ruined electronic equipment.

Then again, I also used to believe that a "flea circus" was a joke; that they used nonexistent "fleas" and the whole "show" was just created with tricks and acting by a human. But then I recently found out that they really did train (to some extent) actual fleas, or at least involved physical fleas which had to "perform" as slaves, in the 19th century.

So maybe toast bread which flies up into the air was really a thing after all? Maybe the idea was to have the air cool down the bread so it doesn't hurt your fingers, or something. Who knows? That's why I ask.

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Yes, and land on the table or floor.

Usually because the spring was too strong and there was no damping - a « feature  » of cheap toasters. Had a couple myself.

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We had a toaster with a strong spring in it in the 1950's. If you put a half slice of bread in just one slot, it would shoot the toasted bread about halfway out of the slot. The idea that a toaster would throw the toast completely free of the toaster was a popular cartoon trope.

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Yes, my grandparents actually had a ‘launch” button - that bypassed the damper. Modern toasters have moving side grilles that allow you to put in large or uneven slices easily without them getting stuck - old ones just had narrow slots, so if you put something a little too short in that you couldn’t grab with tongs after it had finished, then the launch was invaluable!

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