Thomas Edison Invented This Early Panini Press

Thomas Edison Summer HouseThomas Edison’s sandwich grill

Thomas Edison is known for inventing lots of stuff. Among them — an early sandwich grill.

A sandwich grill consists of two metal plates that are hinged together. The plates get hot when the device is plugged in. The two plates clamp shut, pressing both sides of the sandwich together, while warming the filling inside.

Before sandwich grills, people had to toast each slice of bread individually using an electric toaster or a griddle. The sandwich grill made it possible to brown two slices of bread at the same time.

Unfortunately, Edison’s novel approach to sandwich-making didn’t get much attention from home cooks. It was discontinued in the early 1930s, according to the museum at Thomas Edison’s winter estate in Fort Myers, FL, where the celebrated scientist’s sandwich grill is on display.

Edison’s contribution to the world of grilled sandwiches was entirely forgotten by the time Breville — which claims to have invented the world’s first toasted sandwich machine — came out with its panini press in 1974. The product was wildly successful. In Australia, a panini is called a Breville.

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