Toast is sliced bread which has been browned by exposure to dry heat ("toasted"). This browning reaction is a form of Maillard reaction. Toasting warms the bread, making it more pleasant to eat for some, and makes it crisp such that it holds toppings more securely. Toasting is also a common method of making stale bread palatable. Toast is often served with butter, cheese, marmalade, or any number of other toppings, thereby making an open-faced sandwich. Toast is a typical breakfast food, and may be bought as is in supermarkets, or made at the home from regular bread.
The usual method of browning bread is by the use of a toaster, a small appliance made for that purpose, first used in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. For a modern toaster, sliced bread is placed into the narrow slots on the top of the device and the desired toast setting is selected (some toasters have more elaborate settings than others). Then, the lever on the side of the toaster is pushed down, simultaneously turning on the heating elements.
Another way to make toast is to use a reflector toaster. They are usually made of a reflective material the directs sunlight towards the toast and are similar to reflector ovens. Some reflector toasters can be put near a campfire to reflect the heat at the toast.
Toast is commonly eaten with butter or margarine spread over it. Jams, jellies and other spreads are also commonly used as toppings. In some countries a more popular practice is to spread a yeast extract, such as Marmite or Vegemite on toast. "Beans on toast" and "Eggs on toast" are both very popular simple meals in the United Kingdom. Other methods of preparing toast include to sprinkle a mixture of sugar and cinnamon on buttered toast, creating cinnamon toast. Toast spread with jam, jelly, apple butter or marmalade is commonly associated with breakfast. It is sometimes used instead of fresh bread for making sandwiches (such as a BLT sandwich).
Toast is a common component of many breakfasts, and is also used in some traditional bland specialty diets for people with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, or morning sickness during pregnancy, such as the BRAT diet consisting of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.