americas kitchen book coverI’m traveling, and have brought my newest book — “America’s Kitchens” — along as bedtime reading. It’s a keeper, really nicely done. Some tidbits: 

  • Introduced at the turn of the 20th century, the Hoosier cabinet was a huge step forward for homemakers and the first move toward “fitted kitchens.” Not only did it bring commonly used tools into one cabinet, it included containers and a table surface of porcelain enamel steel — much easier to keep food fresh and clean. 2 million Hoosier cabinets were in action by 1920.
  • In the first half of the 20th century, efficiency experts promoted small, step-saving kitchens. But as domestic servants left for factory jobs and mom moved definitively into the kitchen nearly fulltime, the kitchen got bigger. This reflected her desire for a pleasant work space and the fact that everyone wanted to gather there.
  • By 1940 only a third of farm households were electrified.
  • As late as 1945, three out of five farm households did not have a sink with a drain, and any water carried in had to be carried out.
  • In 1942 sugar became the first rationed food item…followed by coffee, meat and canned foods (to save tin.) A year later, ration books were issued to every man, woman and child….Hence our Victory Gardens.
  • The percentage of American families who owned a mechanical refrigerator jumped from 44 to 80 percent between 1940 and 1950.


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