Created By: SeanMurrayI on September 8, 2012 Last Edited By: SeanMurrayI on September 9, 2012
Troped

Bank Toaster

A cheap, complimentary home appliance (usually a toaster) given to a customer for opening a bank account.

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Seen It a Million Times, Needs Examples
Bank + Toaster, You do the math!

Banks love finding ways to get new people to deposit their money with them and open new accounts. Decades ago (in the United States, at least), that involved giving away free toasters, alarm clocks, or other cheesy or unusual home electrical appliances to new customers, which grew to be an expected perk of a new bank account. Indeed, the free toaster became so closely associated with new bank accounts that it has influenced how banks are depicted in media and popular culture.

Whenever a there is a scene in a bank, the Bank Toaster can commonly be Invoked in signs or promotional displays advertising new accounts or character dialogue.

In bank robberies, the Bank Toaster usually comes up as a comedic device, such as an item Stupid Crooks may try to steal either in a last ditch attempt to take something from the bank after any effort to take the money has failed or in clueless mix-up and failure to realize there would be something more valuable to take from the bank.

As it has become much more unheard of for Real Life banks to give out toasters and similar house appliances in our present day, this trope has grown into more of a Dead Horse Trope.


Examples

Film

Literature
  • Dave Barry mentions this in one of his books remarking how the only question banks asked was if you wanted the toaster or the electric blanket.

Live-Action TV
  • In Eerie Indiana, the ghost of Grungy Bill, "The Worst (as in "incompetant") Bank Robber West of the Mississippi" who has never committed a successful bank robbery, tries to run away during yet another unsuccessful attempt to rob a bank with one of the Eerie Bank's free toasters. Managing to be successful at stealing the toaster, Grungy Bill determines this to be a successful bank robbery and his soul can finally rest in peace.
  • The episode of The Lucy Show "Lucy Takes a Job at the Bank", Lucy takes a job at the bank handing out the complimentary toasters, and screws things up in a hilarious manner.
  • In a Superdude skit on All That involving the superhero having to thwart a bank robbery by an evil Costume Copycat, when Superdude is incapacitated and the the villain has taken all the bank's money, the villain turns around at the last minute to steal one of the bank's free toasters, as well. The villain's balked escape gives Superdude enough time to recover and defeat his foe with his magnetic butt that pulls the toaster (and the villain who won't let go of it) back to him.
    Superdude: You should've let go of the toaster, but you HAD to be greedy, didn't you?

Music
  • The Capitol Steps' Parody of "You'll Never Walk Alone", "You'll Never Get a Loan":
    Dream on, dream on,
    With hope in your heart,
    But you'll never get a loan!
    You just might get... a toaster!

Print Media
  • Newspaper editorial cartoons which focus on the American banks during the continuing global financial crisis of the early 21st Century made use of the bank toaster visual.
    • Newsday's Walt Handelsman's "Bank Toasters: Then and Now," Then: "What banks gave to you" (the toaster), Now: "What banks do to you" (burn you... in other words, "You're toast!")
    • New Yorker's Peter Steiner's "Return Your Toasters" suggests that people who were pulling their money and assets out of Citibank were also returning their free toasters.

Western Animation
  • The League of Super Evil schemed to steal $5 so they could open a bank account and obtain a free toaster.


Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • September 8, 2012
    abk0100
    pretty sure it happened in All In The Family, hold on, googling.
  • September 8, 2012
    abk0100
    well, no luck there. I did find this one:

  • September 8, 2012
    Q
    Banks still do this. It isn't as dead as you think. They don't typically give away toasters, but they do give things away. A bank (technically Credit Union) near my area gave out free blankets. (And they were actually surprisingly good zip-up travel blankets) I also heard of a deal where you get a free Sharpie for signing up with a credit card. All of these happened recently (as in, this month) Nowadays, they turn more towards online 'gifts' or point systems. You should probably have a No Real Life Examples Please on this, aside from a mention that it does happen.
  • September 8, 2012
    SeanMurrayI
    ^I'm not looking to make the trope out of ANY free giveaway or perk from a bank, like a (pen or reward points).

    This is specifically about the cheap, hokey appliances that you wouldn't normally expect to get at a bank. Blankets is a good one, and the fact remains that banks giving away any items like toasters and blankets are FAR more rare and virtually unheard of nowadays than they were decades ago.
  • September 8, 2012
    Q
    Of course not, that wouldn't be a trope. However, Tropes Are Flexible. The description as written can be applied to any cheap giveaway item from any bank or similar institution, and there's no significant reason to limit it otherwise.

    Also, I should note that all my examples came are recent; from this month. Edited to make clearer. Still, take this as a sign that your intent needs to be better reflected in the description, rather than just the YKTTW commentary.
  • September 8, 2012
    SeanMurrayI
    Examples Are Not Recent. It doesn't make a difference when it happened. And the fact still is that in present day this is still much, much more rare and much more unheard of in real life.

    Furthermore, both the description and the laconic, as I wrote it, specifically refers to any cheap "home appliances" that are given away. Tropes Are Flexible, but this one is only as flexible as the term "home appliances"--"cheap giveaways".

    A pen is a cheap giveaway. It is not a home appliance.
  • September 8, 2012
    Prfnoff
    • Capitol Steps, "You'll Never Get a Loan":
      Dream on, dream on, with hope in your heart,
      But you'll never get a loan!
      You just might get... a toaster!
  • September 8, 2012
    Q
    The page you linked to is a reprimand against using the word recent in an example. My intent was not to provide an example for the article. My point is that it still gets played straight (particularly in the form of "points", etc.), hence the pothole to Undead Horse Trope. I, for one, wouldn't think of it as corny if a recent storyline used this trope.

    I think you're underestimating how flexible tropes are. If the League of Super Evil wanted $5 to open a bank account and get a free pen or some online points, that would still be an example of this trope; perhaps even more so.
  • September 8, 2012
    nitrokitty
  • September 9, 2012
    Chabal2
    Dave Barry mentions this in one of his books remarking how the only question banks asked was if you wanted the toaster or the electric blanket.
  • September 9, 2012
    Routerie
    Since works are simply referencing a real-life concept, is this really a trope? Or is the trope in how the work builds the story around the bank toaster?

    If the free toaster is shown to depict the bank as trying to entice customers with cheap crap, that's a trope.

    If a robber holds up a bank and ends up asking for the toaster, that's... a different trope, one that would equally well include a robber holding up a Mc Donalds reduced to demanding a happy meal toy.

    If a robber manages to get the bank's money but asks for a toaster as well, that... certainly sounds like a trope, but the trope isn't Bank Toaster, it's "thief undone by his excess greed."

    If Michael Moore gets a gun for opening an account in his gun documentary, that's nothing to do with the bank's underhanded incentive schemes. It's a commentary on the ease at which people can obtain a gun in parts of America.

  • September 9, 2012
    SeanMurrayI
    British Royal Guards references a real-life concept. It's still a trope. A trope can come from anywhere; it just has to become a conventional idea in media, even when it's no longer a commonly heard of practice in Real Life anymore.

    The trope is simply about banks giving out odd items you wouldn't normally expect to get at a bank, like a toaster, and anything that references that fact.

    Your Mc Donalds robbery could always be cataloged under the Stupid Crooks supertrope, as it mainly serves to describe the actions of Stupid Crooks. This trope is about banks and the often strange perfunctory items they give out to reward new customers, which can just happened to be involved with Stupid Crooks who show up to rob banks, as well as any other premises in a bank setting.
  • September 9, 2012
    Routerie
    "British Royal Guards" is not a trope. The trope is "tourist goes to England and is surprised or amused at the guards' tendency to stay still, move in sync and hide all emotion." So:

    ...is not an example of the trope. That's just a reasonable depiction of Real Life that may or may not be used as the basis for story.

    So the thing you began writing about, banks offering customers items to get their deposits? That's certainly a trope, if that's where the story goes. But if you just call this "Bank Toaster," you'll attarct bad examples.
  • September 9, 2012
    SeanMurrayI
    Calling a free toaster from bank a Bank Toaster isn't just something I decided to do on my own. It's a pre-existing phrase people have used to identify free toasters and similar strange giveaway items from banks without having to describe the object in so many words.

    I assure that this page will launch with redirects and alternate names... Free Toaster, Free Bank Toaster, Bank Account Toaster. The toaster is such an associated part of this concept, it's always going get mentioned in a name.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=hdhrs9u9z9nptmdcp32qv48n&trope=BankToaster