||This article possibly contains original research. (May 2015)|
A pie iron (also known as a pudgy pie iron or jaffle iron) is a cooking appliance that consists of two hinged concave, round or square metal, plates on long handles. The plates clamp together to form an enclosed compartment meant for cooking stuffed sandwiches. The plates seal the outside edges of the bread together, to completely enclose the filling. They are typically made of cast iron to cook over coal or open flames. Stove top units are also available, made of aluminium and sometimes coated with a non-stick surface.
The electrical version is known by many names, including toasted sandwich maker, snackwich maker or jaffle maker in Australia and South Africa, although in the latter they are also called Snackwiches, after a once-popular brand, and toastie maker in the United Kingdom. They were invented by a Belgian company, and commercialised by John O'Brien of Breville in the 1970s. The name Breville is still used eponymously to describe both a toasted, sealed sandwich, and the device used to cook them.
Sandwich toasters are notorious for being used relatively little, because of their specialised nature. A survey carried out in 2005 suggested that 45% of British adults owned but did not use sandwich toasters.
An alternative preparation method uses a toaster oven, where the sandwich is often arranged open face and then toasted. This not only toasts the bread, but also warms the meat or other filling of the sandwich. In particular, toasting causes cheese to melt, making it a popular topping for toasted sandwiches. In many restaurants, sandwiches are toasted in large conveyor belt style toaster ovens, such as at Quizno's, Subway and Boston Market.
In the United States, the Tostwich is possibly the earliest toasted sandwich maker, dating back to before 1920. However, it was not patented until 3 March 1925 (applied for on 26 May 1924). It was invented by Charles Champion, whose other inventions include a corn-popping machine for the mass-production of popcorn.
Pie irons were popular with campers in the 60s and 70s in the US. Called "tonka toasters," recipes called for cutting the crusts from white bread and placing the long-handled iron in the coals of a camp fire for the time estimated to form a golden-brown crust. Canned pie filling was the most popular filling, though other combinations of meat/egg and vegetable filling recipes were circulated as ideas for camp food.
- "From the Vault: Toasted Sandwich Maker". The New Inventors. ABC Television. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- "The Original 4-Slice". Breville Product Information. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- The Telegraph, 12 September 2005, Sarah Womack, "£9bn wasted on unused gadgets for our homes", London, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1498205/9bn-wasted-on-unused-gadgets-for-our-homes.html
- "Catlin's Own Inventor", Shirley Nesbitt, http://www.rootsweb.com/~ilchs/history/pages/champ1.htm, 2000, accessed 26 December 2007