origin of the phrase ‘as warm as toast’



advertisement from the Hastings & St. Leonards Observer (East Sussex)
25th November 1950

How warm is Toast?

Correctly toasted and caught at the moment of ripeness, opinion has it that the crispest toast reaches the ultimate in its exquisite flavour at a temperature of between 150 and 160 degrees. But willy-nilly, tastes vary, and it would less truthful—though more in keeping—to say ‘as warm as you like it.’
So when we claim that the Sealdraught system so effectively and permanently banishes draughts from your home that you will forever and always be warm as toast, we really mean as warm as you wish to be—ankles and all.
We would like, if we may, to tell you about this internationally proved system of draught and weatherproofing. We are now the sole agents for Sealdraught in this area, and we have men specially trained in its application. Write, phone, or call, and we will at once supply you with further details, show you working models, and—if you wish—provide a free estimate without obligation for the permanent ‘warm as toast’ draughtproofing of your home.

Building Contractors
Phone 935 and 837. Established 1874



The phrase (as) warm as (a) toast means agreeably or comfortably warm. The earliest instance that I have found is from The Berkshire Chronicle of 10th December 1825:

New similes.
As wet as a fish—as dry as a bone,
As live as a bird—as dead as a stone;
As plump as a partridge—as poor as a rat,
As strong as a horse—as weak as a cat;
As hard as a flint—as soft as a mole,
As white as a lily—as black as a coal;
As plain as a pikestaff—as rough as a bear,
As tight as a drum—as free as the air;
As heavy as lead—as light as a feather,
As steady as time—uncertain as weather;
As hot as an oven—as cold as a frog,
As gay as a lark—as sick as a dog;
As slow as a tortoise—as swift as the wind,
As true as the gospel—as false as mankind;
As thin as a herring—as fat as a pig,
As proud as a peacock—as blithe as a grig;
As savage as tigers—as mild as a dove,
As stiff as a poker—as limp as a glove;
As blind as a bat—as deaf as a post,
As cool as a cucumber—warm as a toast;
As flat as a flounder—as round as a ball,
As blunt as a hammer—as sharp as an awl;
As red as a ferret—as safe as the stocks,
As bold as a thief—as sly as a fox;
As straight as an arrow—as crook’d as a bow,
As yellow as saffron—as black as a sloe;
As brittle as glass—as tough as a gristle,
As neat as my nail—as clean as a whistle;
As good as a feast—as bad as a witch,
As light as the day—as dark as is pitch;
As wide as a river—as deep as a well,
As still as a mouse—as loud as a bell;
As sure as a gun—as true as a clock,
As frail as a promise—as firm as a rock;
As brisk as a bee—as dull as an ass,
As full as a tick—as solid as brass.

The phrase had occurred in the form hot as a toast in A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the englishe tongue compacte in a matter concernyng two maner of mariages (1546), by the English playwright and epigrammatist John Heywood (1496?-1578?):

Where loue had appeerd in hym to her alwaie
Hotte as a toste, it grew cold as a kaie [= key].

The author of a cookery book written around 1430 had already used the simile in the following recipe:

Oyle Soppys.—Take a gode quantyte of Oynonys, an [= and] mynse hem [= them] not to smale, an sethe [= sift] in fayre Water: þan take hem vp, an take a gode quantite of Stale Ale, as .iij. galouns, an þer-to take a pynte of Oyle fryid, an caste þe Oynonys þer-to, an let boyle alle to-gederys a gode whyle; then caste þer-to Safroune, powder Pepyr, Sugre, an Salt, an serue forth alle hote as tostes.

The phrase as dry as toast seems to have appeared in the first half of the 19th century. The following is from Songs of the Seedy (n° XXV), published in Punch, or The London Charivari (1842):

The Clarence is a stylish thing,
With trowsers well strapped down;
The Ankle-jack, with lace as string,
May suit the rustic clown;
The modest High-low many wear;
Oxonians some still use;
The Wellingtons have quite an air;
But oh! give me my shoes!

The slender Pump let others boast,
Or sport the stout Calash,
Which keeps the feet as dry as toast
While rain the pavements wash.

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