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An opened Bifinett sandwich toaster
Toasted sandwiches made with a pie iron

A pie iron—also called pudgy pie iron, sandwich toaster, snackwicher, toastie maker—is a cooking appliance that consists of two hinged concave, round or square, cast iron or aluminium plates on long handles. Its "clamshell" design resembles that of a waffle iron, but without that appliance's honeycomb pattern. Pie irons are used to heat, toast and seal the sandwich.


The most common type in most countries are electrically heated counter-top models, and names vary from place to place. In the United Kingdom, the pie iron is referred to as a "toastie maker" or "toasted sandwich maker".


In the U.S., 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.[1]

The original Jaffle brand jaffle iron was designed and patented in 1949 by Dr Earnest Smithers from Bondi, Australia.[2]


Modern versions of the pie-iron are commonly more domestic, if not necessarily more refined, with subdivisions allowing pairs of bread slices to be clamped together around fillings to form pockets or stuffed sandwiches. A combination of heat and pressure seals the bread at the outer edges.

A pie iron over a campfire

Campfire versions are still made of cast iron and can be cooked over coals, open flames, or a stove, but lightweight aluminium stove-top versions are made, generally being coated with a non-stick surface both as a cleaning aid and to allay fears regarding aluminium in the diet.

Once the device is hot, the sandwich can be assembled "inside-out", where the buttered side of the bread faces outwards against the metal plates and the filling sits inside. This produces a crunchier sandwich and helps prevent the bread from sticking.[3] Alternatively, bread can be placed inside unbuttered, which produces a chewier sandwich.[3]

Regional variants

Indian open flame sandwich toaster

Rights acquired by John O'Brien for Australian cookware company Breville in the 1970s[4] mean that the name Breville is sometimes used there eponymously to describe both the device and the toasted, sealed sandwich product.[5]

In the UK, the appliance is notorious for being little-used. A survey in 2005 suggested that 45% of British adults own, but do not use, sandwich toasters.[6]

In India, open flame toasters are used to toast sandwiches. They are often called "Bombay sandwiches" in Mumbai.[7] A similar American utensil is trademarked “Toas-Tite”.[8]

A "Jaffle" is another variant in Australia. The original Jaffle brand jaffle iron only sealed the sandwich around the edges, and did not cut it in half. This allowed more filling and or a whole egg.[9] However, since the introduction of the Breville Snack'n'Sandwich Toaster in 1974, most electric jaffle makers in Australia split the sandwich in half.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Catlin's Own Inventor", Shirley Nesbitt, 2000, accessed 26 December 2007
  2. ^ "1949 Jaffle craze hits Australia". Australian food history timeline. 18 September 1940. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Toasted sandwich; Butter the outside or not?". Piston Heads. 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  4. ^ "From the Vault: Toasted Sandwich Maker". The New Inventors. ABC Television. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  5. ^ "The Original 4-Slice". Breville Product Information. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  6. ^ "£9bn wasted on unused gadgets for our homes". Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  7. ^ "Is the Bombay Sandwich really from Mumbai?". Condé Nast Traveller. July 2020.
  8. ^ Fabricant, Florence (14 February 2012). "The Return of the Toas-Tite". The New York Times. p. D6.
  9. ^ O’Connell, Jan. "1949 Jaffle craze hits Australia". Australian Food Timeline. Retrieved 18 March 2024.
  10. ^ O’Connell, Jan. "1974 Breville Snack'n'Sandwich Toaster". Australian Food Timeline. Retrieved 18 March 2024.