In E.S. Glenn’s cartoon, a panini press is saying something to a toaster. Judging from the swinging door, they appear to be in a commercial kitchen.
The panini-press looks friendly and encouraging, so I first imagined he was trying to build up the smaller appliance’s self-esteem:
- “Are you kidding? I’d give anything to make bread jump in the air.”
- “No kid gets excited about a grilled vegetable sandwich. But a Pop-Tart?”
- “I envy you. No kid ever tries to grill a Pop-Tart.”
Then I went in the other direction and pictured the two appliances getting competitive: “Well, no, I guess I can’t grill a Pop-Tart.” The Pop-Tart captions may not make much sense in the context of a commercial kitchen, but I’m leaving them in.
More than 700 people die every year from toaster-related deaths, usually because someone tries to remove bread with a metal utensil, so my last caption is, “Tell me again how you killed that guy with the knife.”
Now let’s see how you did.
This is the kind of cartoon that elicits an unholy number of puns, and these were among the best:
- “I heard you quit smoking.”
- “I’d like to propose some toast.”
- “I’d be sad too, if my career was toast.”
- “How many carbs did you burn today?”
That last entry is especially clever.
There was an entire subset of puns that addressed the way a panini press works:
- “A free press will always grill its subjects.”
- “I just did fifty presses.”
- “Unlike you, I make a strong impression.”
- “It’s about time you talked to the press.”
- “I don’t mean to pressure you, but it’s what I do.”
- “Sorry, I’ve got a pressing engagement.”
- “First impressions are everything.”
The next several entries acknowledge that a panini press is the kind of specialty item that people use only a few times:
- “It feels like they’re more in love with the IDEA of me.”
- “A year from now I’ll be in the basement with the wok.”
- “Of course I look like new. They only use me once a year.”
- “The other wedding presents voted me most likely to be re-gifted. That’s good, right?”
Like I did, several of you recognized that a toaster can do a better job than a panini press with one particular item:
- “Tell me more about Pop-Tarts.”
- “Pop-Tart, schmop tart.”
- “I saw what you did with that tart.”
I didn’t expect pandemic-related captions this week, but this one’s pretty good: “I’ll be glad when they start eating out again.” (As with the last two sets of entries, it doesn’t make sense in the context of a commercial kitchen, but I like it.)
Here’s a fitting variation on a common type of joke: “So a blender, a cuisinart and a coffee grinder walk into a bar …”
And here’s a clever take on the phrase that Timothy Leary popularized in 1967 when he used it at the Human Be-in, a gathering of 30,000 hippies at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco: “Plug in, turn on, pop out – welcome to the counter culture.” The second part of the caption may initially seem unnecessary, but I think it makes the caption stronger because it alludes to both the movement that Leary was such an important part of and the cartoon’s setting.
The next two entries recognize that toasters are used primarily for breakfast items, while panini presses are more versatile:
- “I’m not a morning person.”
- “I can’t live by bread alone.”
Here’s the week’s best Jewish joke: “Panini’s my stage name. My real name is Lipschitz.”
And here’s the best reference to the most celebrated of nineteenth-century Italian violinists: “I’m the Paganini of Panini.”
These next two captions take a common phrase and give it new meaning within the context of the cartoon:
- “Why won’t you open up?”
- “Relax, you’re so jumpy.”
While this entry alludes to an especially annoying form of online advertising: “No offense, but everyone hates pop-ups.”
“Jane, you ignorant slot” doesn’t really work—there are two slots, and they’re just part of the toaster and not the part the panini press is addressing—but it made me laugh. I have a soft spot for any reference to ’70s-era SNL skits.
These captions suggest that appliances have love lives:
- “Sure, the blender has a nice shape, but you’re obviously hotter.”
- “How do you feel about dating an Italian?”
As someone who’s disappointed whenever he tries to heat up bread in a microwave—it always comes out soggy—I appreciate this entry: “The microwave’s got nothing on us.”
Pareidolia, the phenomenon that explains why some people think they see the image of Christ in a piece of toast, seems to have inspired this entry: “Are you the one that makes pictures of Jesus?”
A panini press can make more than sandwiches. It’s a contact grill that can be used to prepare seafood, but this entry suggests that might not be a good idea: “They call it non-stick but everything still tastes like fish to me.”
And finally, here’s a reference both to both a children’s book and the fact that the toaster (invented in 1893) predates the panini press (invented in 1974): “Are you my mother?”
There was a lot of competition for the top spot this week, but I’m going with, “How many carbs did you burn today?”
Lawrence Wood has won The New Yorker’s Cartoon Caption Contest a record-setting seven times and been a finalist two other times. He has collaborated with New Yorker cartoonists Peter Kuper, Lila Ash, Felipe Galindo Gomez, and Harry Bliss (until Bliss tossed him aside, as anyone would, to collaborate with Steve Martin). Nine of his collaborations have appeared in The New Yorker, and one is included in the New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.