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Would You Pay $230 for a Toaster?

July 20, 2016
by Jamie Cattanach
Staff Writer

Unpopular opinion time: I don’t really understand the breakfast food craze.

Don’t get me wrong; bacon is awesome. But I’d rather have it wrapped around dates for lunch, or crumbled over roasted brussels sprouts with dinner.

Plus, toast.

Like, how did that even become a thing? It’s just rapidly staled bread, guys. Just give me the avocado and go away.

That said, I’m willing to change my mind if I’m given a good enough reason… and it’s look like I may have found just that.

Because people are paying 24,000 yen (US$230) for this toaster — after being patient enough to last through a three-month wait list.

Apparently, I’ve never had really good toast, because that is some serious commitment.

The Quest for the Perfect Toast, and the High-Tech Toaster that Makes It

Gen Terao is the mind behind Balmuda, and the company’s $230 device that delivers crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside toast — every single time.

He and his employees discovered his extraordinary toasting technique accidentally, while grilling bread at a company picnic.

The group worked for hours to recreate the perfect toast that had serendipitously appeared over the flames before realizing the key was steam, which keeps the bread moist inside.

Add a sudden burst of heat at the end to give it that craveable, crusty crunch — and there you have it.

The perfect toast.

Gen Terao’s Surprising Path to Founding Balmuda

The Balmuda steam toaster oven went on the market late last year, and despite its high tech (and accompanying price tag), business has been very good.

“Despite Terao’s goal of shipping 10,000 units a month, there haven’t been enough to keep stores stocked,” Bloomberg reports.

And that’s only in Japan and very recently South Korea. With the company struggling to keep up with such rampant demand, it’s unlikely the Balmuda toaster will come to American markets anytime soon.

But perhaps the most interesting part of the story is Terao’s unlikely success story — and I’m not just talking about how much cash he fetches for such a common appliance.

Gen Terao’s path is different than the one you probably imagine most design firms’ CEOs take. He dropped out of high school before spending the money that was supposed to fund his college career on an epic journey across Spain, Morocco and the Mediterranean.

Then, he led a rock band called the Beach Fighters for nine years, while working at a pachinko hall to pay the bills.

He was nearing 30 when he changed direction yet again, using borrowed manufacturing equipment to create small appliances. He named the operation Balmuda, and soon enjoyed enough success to hire on help — and get his own machines.

Today, of course, the company’s busy fulfilling the orders of those eager to taste the perfect toast.

And while we’re unsure of how much money the company’s made so far, at $230 a pop, it’s safe to say they’re in the black. (Or golden-brown, as it were.)

As for me, I might have to find a way to get my hands on some Balmuda’d bread. With such a loyal fan base, I can only imagine eating it is akin to a spiritual experience.

Your Turn: Would you pay $230 for a toaster?

Jamie Cattanach is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Her writing has also been featured at The Write Life, Word Riot and elsewhere. Find @JamieCattanach on Twitter to wave hello.

by Jamie Cattanach
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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