If you catch a whiff of scorched toast, one of several things could be wrong:
1. Your toast is burning. Eject it, scrape off the black stuff, butter it and make a mental note to ratchet down the toaster’s timer after breakfast.
2. You might be having a seizure or some other neurological episode, especially if you’re not actually making toast. This is more serious. The link between epilepsy and the smell of burnt toast dates back to the 1930s, when Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield pioneered a surgery that involved poking around in patients’ brains and asking them what they felt. Surprisingly few replied “ouch.” One epileptic patient famously proclaimed, “I can smell burnt toast,” and the scent of over-crispy bread has since been linked to the onset of host of ailments. Mysterious smells — or phantosmia, to use the completely awesome technical term — can be harbingers of strokes, heart attacks, tumors and other nastiness, so a doctor’s visit might be in order if you’re experiencing these olfactory illusions. However, things could be worse…
3. Your toaster might be possessed by Satan. It’s probably a long-shot, since Satan can surely inflict more evil by inhabiting, say, a microwave or a ruthless dictator, but it’s not entirely out of the question. It happened to a couple in 1984, as reported during this Emmy-worthy piece of reportage on The Today Show which bubbled up to the surface on Fark the other day — so it could happen to you.
Final note: If your smell burnt toast and your head rotates a full 360 degrees while you vomit green goo and hurl blasphemous insults at a priest, don’t worry: that’s probably just heartburn.