Breville toaster

Who needs a kettle with four heat settings? A washing machine with a ‘freshen up’ function? A toaster with six browning modes? What happened to the good old days of the on/off switch, asks Tom Meltzer in The Guardian.

“Function inflation or “setting creep” – both of which are names I’ve just made up – is not, of course, confined to the kitchen. We can see it in our computers and cars, our phones and televisions, and, in its purest form, in the deranged one-upmanship of a top-of-the-range Swiss Army knife, complete with a “fish scaler”, a “chisel” and a “pressurised ballpoint pen”. But is the surreal image of a war fought using descaled fish in Switzerland really progress? Or are all these settings just getting in our way?”