Sunday, January 22, 2012

end of an era- 'poe toaster' is nevermore

I meant to comment on this sad current event earlier, but work and life got in the way.

Every year since 1949 a treasured tradition occurred where a mysterious man in a wide-brimmed hat and white scarf left three roses and a bottle of cognac on the grave of 19th century author Edgar Allan Poe on the date of his birth- January 19.  Dubbed the "Poe Toaster," this personage was never stopped and few attempts were made to reveal his identity.  The "Toaster" himself did not remain the same- in the 1990s the tradition was passed to a younger individual, with a note being left that the original Toaster had died the year before.

image source: RAVEN-OUS!

But in 2010, the Poe Toaster failed to show up.  In 2011 several imposters showed up.  How do we know that?  Poe House and Museum curator Jeff Jerome says that he and the Toaster have worked out a signal to determine if the "Toaster" was the real one- something the Toaster did at the grave every year why leaving his offerings.

This year a crowd kept vigilant and waited for the iconic figure to show up until nearly dawn.  More imposters showed up, but the real Toaster did not stand up. The tradition was declared "over" by Jerome.

So what happened to the Toaster?  Did he die suddenly?  Did he not take his duties as seriously as the first Toaster?  Or did he find 2009, the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth, an appropriate year the end the tradition?

What do you think happened?  Do you think the tradition is better left over and done with, or do you think a new "Toaster" should step up and continue the tradition?

News articles relating to this event:

Washington Post- "Edgar Allen Poe 'toaster' tradition is no more"
Los Angeles Times- "Sorrow for the lost 'Poe Toaster': no cognac, roses left at grave"
Gainesville Sun- "Edgar Allan Poe fans call an end to 'Toaster' tradition"
United Press International- "'Poe Toaster' a no-show at author's grave"


  1. How sad that the tradition has ended! But it's also kinda sad (in a different way) that imposters have been trying to take the place of the real Poe Toaster! I guess their hearts are in the right place, but come up with your own ideas already, people! ;-D

  2. @ VictorianKitty- I agree. Nice gesture for the Imposters, but you are right- do something as different and noteworthy as the Poe Toaster if it means that much to you to:

    a) Honor EAP
    b) Be such a mysterious and yet well-known figure of note.