Modern Kitchen “Wife-Savers”

Kitchen accessories from the trade catalogue “243 New Ideas for Your Kitchen", ca. 1955. Kalamazoo Stoves and Furnaces, Kalamazoo, Mich., publisher. Promised gift to Historic New England from a private collection. Used on this site with permission.

Kitchen accessories from the trade catalogue “243 New Ideas for Your Kitchen", ca. 1955. Kalamazoo Stoves and Furnaces, Kalamazoo, Mich., publisher. Promised gift to Historic New England from a private collection. Used on this site with permission.

ACCORDING TO AMERICA’S KITCHENS, many of the things we take for granted today in our kitchens were introduced or became widely available in the 20th century, driven by emerging technologies, consumer demand, and commercial marketing that influenced people to update frequently and to buy the latest gadgets.  Electric stoves and refrigerators made their appearance in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.  The postwar years brought freezers, refrigerators with freezer compartments, and an explosion in small appliances like mixers, blenders, and waffle irons.  Tupperware, Saran Wrap, and plastic sandwich bags were introduced in the 40s and 50s, and the first countertop microwave oven arrived in the 60s.

Erica Donnis is an independent historian and museum consultant based in Burlington, Vermont. This is her fourth vignette from America’s Kitchens — the book and the traveling exhibition.

Click on the image below several times to enlarge and see the detail:


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Comments

  1. Annie B. says

    I remember an interesting looking kitchen gadget from my 1950’s childhood called a Toast-ite (sp?). It was a long-handled, toasted sandwich maker which you placed over the eye of your stove to use.
    Made the world’s best grilled cheese sandwich.

  2. Elaine says

    I wish that picture was big enough to see the gadgets. I remember a lot of great gadgets, not all electric. Toasters that pop up! Waffle irons, electric fry pans, a stove with its own recessed deep fryer, popcorn poppers, and those lazy susan corner cabinets, wonderful things.

  3. Eucritta says

    Toast-ite’s are still made – if not by the same company, I wouldn’t know – only now they’re sold as croque-monsieur irons. And tend to be less … ufo-loid, if my memory serves me right [g]. Ours, the sandwiches came out pressed into a flying-saucer shape, and sometimes we’d put pickle on top for the lights.

  4. says

    What is the Ventilator? It looks like it has cups inside!
    Love the idea of having a mirror/makeup cabinet in the kitchen – for those quick touch-ups when a delivery person is at the door!

  5. says

    @Tikimama: The houses in our mid-century neighborhood (Westlake, Daly City… the neighborhood that inspired Malvina Reynolds’s “Little Boxes”) have makeup cabinets in the kitchens, as well as recessed ironing board cabinets. The woman of the house in the 50s apparently was expected never to leave the kitchen.

  6. Hal aka "bear-dancing" says

    Hi,
    Just ran across the site! Very cool! Iwas wondering if anyone would have information on a built in toaster made by Swanson. We picked one up for our kitchen remodel and I’m looking for specs so I can rewire/ rebuild it. I plan on bringing its guts up to date, but knowing what I’m starting with would be a great help.
    Thanks,
    Hal.

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