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Play With Your Food; These Products Make It OK

We've all heard the old saw about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. But let's be honest: It's far from the most exciting.

Unless, of course, you're staring at a piece of toast that has the words "Bite Me" burnt into it.

That's the premise behind the Pop Art Toaster ($24.99 to $39.99), the electric appliance that aims to turn your morning bread into your morning message. Depending on which model you buy, you can imprint any number of sayings or images on your toast, from the play-it-safe (a smiley face) to the slightly risqué ("I'm hot!"), thanks to the interchangeable plates.

Want to take it a step further? You can turn your toast into a veritable canvas with the kid-oriented "Creativity Coloring Kit" ($39.99), which comes not only with a toaster and plates, but also five "FDA-approved flavored edible markers" for "painting" your toast.

The Pitch

"Who says you can't play with your food?" the company asks on its Web site. It also makes the point that, while some models may be geared for children, others can work just as well for you grown-up toast eaters ("Why should kids have all the fun?").

Celebs have apparently gotten the message: There are photos on the site of TV and film stars -- mostly B-listers of the Neil Patrick Harris sort -- singing the Pop Art Toaster's praises. Says Charlie Sheen, "I'm going home right now and throwing out my toaster."

Pop Art Toaster

The Reality

Sorry, Charlie: I'm just not that excited about this gimmicky gizmo. Granted, it's worth a few laughs the first few times you use it. But after that, who really wants to start their morning interacting with a couple of slices of whole wheat? And though the toasters are easy to use, they require a degree of caution -- you can't swap out plates until they cool down.

As for the coloring kit, let's just say toast isn't quite the tabula rasa the company would have you believe: My nine-year-old daughter kept tearing her bread when she tried to use the markers on it. But even if your kid turns into the Picasso of pumpernickel, what are you supposed to do with a piece of decorated toast? Hang it on the wall and hope the bugs don't get to it?

Toaster Set & Coloring Kit

Competing Products

So far, it seems the Pop Art Toaster -- in all its iterations -- has the field to itself. But the company behind the product, New York-based LC Premiums, has broader aspirations in the play-with-your-breakfast-food field. Its newest product is the Tasty Baker ($29.99), which lets you create waffles, pancakes, etc., in unique shapes.

Tasty Baker Set

Bottom Line

As a novelty gift item, this falls somewhere between the useless (say, a pet rock) and the useful (say, a massage wand). It is a toaster, though not your standard (or top-of-the-line) one. I'm tempted to stick with my cold cereal in its place.

Where to Buy It

You can find a list of retailers carrying the product on the Pop Art Toaster Web site . Target and Amazon.com are among the bigger online stores selling it.

Charles Passy is a Florida-based writer who covers food, travel, entertainment and consumer culture and products.

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