This morning, as I was making my toast, I heard a quirky little newsbit on NPR. It went a little something like this: "Some crazy-ass Vermont company is making toasters that crisp up your bread in the shape of Jesus. Isn't that cute?"
Immediately, my own toast — a perfect, even brown, still hot from its descent into my Michael Graves for Target Black & Decker toaster — felt inadequate. Literally, it had a self-esteem meltdown. And, I have to admit, I liked my plain-Jane toast a little less after I heard what it could be — a glutenous slab of grain emblazoned with our savior's face. Now I need that Jesus Toaster. Bad.
The Jesus Toaster is the brainchild of Galen Dively III, founder of Burnt Impressions, LLC, a company that began making novelty toasters this spring. From their HQ in Danville, Burnt Impressions sells toasters that will brand Jesus' face, peace signs or marijuana leaves into your toast. Because nothing says good morning like heady, pro-weed toast.
According to the Daily Bread Toaster Company website (one supposes this is a division of the towering Burnt Impressions empire), Galen is a Grateful Dead disciple and tie-dye enthusiast who is all about "laughs, loves, smiles, and so much more." He has owned a hemp company and a cyber café, and can now count himself as the brains behind "peace, pot and Jesus" toasters. I called him to ask about his blessed, not to mention genius, invention, but he was too busy with some R&D on his next project — the Prophet Mohammed smoothie maker — to talk to me.
People have been seeing the image of Christ in food for years — tortillas, pierogies, even grilled cheese. Once Jesus even appeared to me in a plate of pad see ew. There is a technical term for this phenomenon, and it's not craziness. Pareidolia is a legitimate psychological condition in which seemingly innocuous stimuli, such as pancakes, can be perceived as religiously significant. Like the time when I thought the Shroud of Turin had appeared in my boob sweat.
Well, it's either the Shroud of Turin or Cornelius from "Planet of the Apes."
Galen isn't the first entrepreneur to create product inspired by culinary visions of Christ. The Jesus Pan, a nonstick pan with the relief of Jesus and his thorny crown, allows the faithful to "worship at every meal." Jesus' mournful visage can be imprinted onto any foodstuffs — omelettes, hamburgers, potato latkes, you name it. Apparently, saying grace isn't good enough. People literally need to eat Jesus' face. It's like transubstantiation, only less magicky.
My big question, apart from why a product like the Jesus Toaster exists, is this: Does Jesus look better burned into white, wheat or rye?