Sometime shortly after The Mill opened a bunch of news articles and blog posts started popping up about this idea of "$4 toast in San Francisco!" After a few weeks, it turned into a full-blown "toast craze." It's hard to pin down the exact origins of the "artisanal toast craze" here, but it can probably be traced back, locally, to Trouble Coffee and Coconut Club, which had been serving up warm cinnamon toast alongside coffee (and, well, coconuts) for years before The Mill opened up in 2013. Regardless of origins, the artisanal toast craze became seen as the latest signaling mechanism that SF had shifted into full-blown hypergentrification.
The SF toast craze even made NPR's This American Life in March of 2014.
"On a busy Saturday or Sunday we’ll make 350 to 400 pieces of toast," says Josey Baker, baker at The Mill in 2014.
The toast at The Mill is actually $3.50, by the way. Not that that's not expensive, of course.
Outside the United States..
What's missing from almost every story about the SF toast craze is that, outside of the US -- and particularly in Southeast Asia -- toast has been a with-coffee staple for decades. In Singapore, the popular kaya toast has been a thing since at least the 1940s. The Singaporean Ya Kun Kaya chain is basically like Starbucks in over there -- you can find it, or another kaya toast variant, on nearly every block. The same goes for Malaysia and some parts of Indonesia.
So, basically, we didn't invent artisanal toast. We just charge a bit more for it.
- "A Toast Story"
- This American Life story on SF toast
- "$4 Toast: Why the tech industry is ruining San Francisco"
- "$4 toast prompts housing petition"
- NPR blog: "School For Making Toast: The Best Food Fooling 2014"
- "The Next Food Craze To Sweep The Nation: Artisanal Toast?"
- "There's a Really Good Reason Why We're Eating $4 Toast" in the Bold Italic.
- "Toast: The next big thing?"
- "San Francisco’s $4 Toast Goes Soft"