Bank + Toaster, You do the math!
Banks love finding ways to get new people to deposit their money with them and open an account. Decades ago (in the United States, at least), that involved giving away free toasters, alarm clocks, or other cheesy home electrical appliances to new customers, which grew to be an expected perk for opening 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. If one of these toasters is established as part of a promotional display at the beginning of a bank scene, certainly anticipate something happening to it by the scene's end
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 a clueless mix-up/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 (though freebies for college students do still occur to this day), this trope has grown into more of a Dead Horse Trope
- The page image, above, comes from a commercial for Chesapeake Bank of Maryland, which implies that larger banks, here represented as "Big Bank", are so out of touch with their customers that they equate giving out items like the toaster with customer service.
- A David Letterman "Top 10" list from January 1990, "Top 10 Signs that Your Bank Is Failing", includes "#10—Free handful of Cheetos with every new account", "#9—They hand out calendars one month at a time", and "#6—Free giveaway toaster is made by G.E.", General Electric at the time having been found guilty of defrauding the US Department of Defense during the previous year.
- In Spider-Man 2, a Morally Bankrupt Banker, on top of denying Aunt May and Peter Parker a loan, denies them a coupon for a free toaster.
- In Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, he opens a bank account and receives a free rifle. He cut out the part where he waited to clear a background check, though.
- In The Admiral Was a Lady the male characters (all demobbed World War II soldiers who are currently unemployed) use this to their advantage to make a bit of extra money on the side. A local bank offers a free piggy bank as its opening gift. Instead of simply cashing their unemployment cheques with the cheque-cashing man who charges a fee, they deposit them in a new bank account, get the piggy bank, immediately close the account (for a cash withdrawal, no money lost)... and then sell the piggy banks to the local pawnbroker!
- Dave Barry mentions this in one of his books, remarking how the only question banks used to ask was if you wanted the toaster or the electric blanket.
- 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.
- This cartoon◊ made after the 2008 government bailout of major banks in the US suggests that all American taxpayers got for their troubles is the free toaster (along with a "toasted" economy)
- Inverted in a cartoon from the Sacramento Bee that advertises free banks for purchased toasters.◊
- In one Sherman's Lagoon strip, an octopus is seen thinking about the various options and account choices banks provide, ending his inner monologue with the remark that getting a free toaster used to be so much easier.
- From Baloo Comics:
- The bank in Freefall apparently offers a choice between a toaster and a waffle iron. They recommend the toasters, following a previously-mentioned problem with the waffle irons.
- The League of Super Evil schemed to steal $5 so they could open a bank account and obtain a free toaster.