I can smell burnt toast

Pioneering neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield was the subject of one of Canadian television’s ‘Heritage Minutes’ in a melodramatic classic that celebrates his stimulating brain research.

It really does just last one minute and looks like a cross between Hammer Horror and Gone With The Wind with the dramatic stares and hammy acting to match.

Penfield is portrayed as a brilliant neurosurgeon (and “the greatest Canadian alive”!) who operates on women in full make-up to cure them of their epilepsy.

If you ask me, any piece of television that hits a high on a cry of “I can smell burnt toast” has got to be a timeless masterpiece.

Link to Wilder Penfield ‘Heritage Minute’ on YouTube.


  1. Ruth
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    “I smell burnt toast” is a pretty common meme in Canada due to this commercial.

  2. LC
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    As Ruth mentions, it’s probably the most-remembered single line from those Canadian Heritage moments.

    (The whole series of them is kind of fantastic, though.)

    “I smell burnt toast” is pretty much instantly recognizable to a certain generation, I think.

  3. Richard Schwarting
    Posted December 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    I dare say that the commercial is almost more a part of our heritage than Penfield’s own work :D

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