The GE wall refrigerator-freezer is the vintage kitchen appliance that perhaps draws the most gasps from readers when they see one for the first time. And, it’s one of the appliances that inspires many folks to ask, “Why don’t they make this today?” Why did it disappear? I have a few hypotheses. According to the copy in these marketing materials (part of my personal collection), the GE wall refrigerator-freezer was introduced in 1955 — the same year that GE introduced the Wonder Kitchen and a whole suite of kitchen appliances all meant to encourage the “built-in” look.
Here’s what the ad says about this exciting new invention:
… This magnificent refrigerator-freezer that hangs from the wall provides a completely new and advanced concept of modern living. Truly, it is the most convenient and magnificent refrigerator-freezer ever produced!
The advantages of this new G-E Wall Refrigerator-Freezer are obvious: there’s no need to bend or stoop for foods because everything can be seen at a glance… It can be installed directly above a work counter to provide extra counter surface. And, there’s room in the kitchen for extra base cabinets because this compact new appliance occupies no floor space.
…Six Mix-or-Match colors including white.
Specs: “This de luxe refrigerator-freezer has 10.7 cubic feet of storage room — 8.7 cubic feet for fresh food and 2 cubic feet for frozen foods. It is 5 feet 4 inches long, 3 feet 3½ inches high and 17½ inches deep.
- Long-lasting baked enamel with a wide band of textured aluminum.
- All 3 doors are kept shut by famous alnico magnets. No handles, no catches.
- Separate vegetable and fruit compartments have transparent sliding doors.
- Top shelf provides space for tall bottles. Shelves are adjustable to various levels.
- Separate compartments inside door or butter, egg rack; and door shelves for small jars and cans.
- Zero-degree food freezer has room for up to 83 packages of frozen foods.
- Four new-style Mini-Cube® ice trays.
- Frozen fruit juice storage rack.
- Dependable whisper-quite ealed-in G-E refrigeration unit is built into the refrigerator. No need to install it separately.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these “live” working in a reader’s kitchen. But I see no reason that these could not still be used. They may require some refurbishing.
Mix-and-Match style: Above, this image produced to advertise Armstrong Flooring shows just how the different GE cabinets and appliance colors could be mixed and matched Mondrian-style.
Above: Here’s the GE Wonder Kitchen.
Above: Reader Chris scored a GE Wonder Kitchen, refurbished it, and installed it in his apartment, which is in a building designed by Mies van Der Rohe.
Okay, so can I now really blow your mind? Above: A full GE Refrigeration Center — combining the wall refrigerator-freezer with base cabinets refrigeration and even tucking in two Cabinettes. I don’t know the year of this ad, although this marketing image is somewhere in my files.
Above: And this one blows our minds too: The GE Partio Cart, introduced in 1960.
Why did GE wall refrigerator-freezers fade from the marketplace?
I hypothesize: (1) An 8.7 cu.ft. refrigerator was not “enough”, especially as manufacturers continued to offer new, larger refrigerator designs. (2) Kids could not reach the refrigerator. (3) Many women [average height was 5’4″, I remember reading once] themselves had trouble reaching. (4) I’m guessing these were expensive.
What do you think, readers?
Why did these not endure?
Would you like one for your kitchen?
Love vintage refrigerators? Also check out these stories:
- Revco Bilt-In refrigerators, 17 pages of designs from 1956
- Greg & Tammy’s 1953 Kelvinator side-by-side refrigerator-freezer, before & after
- A vintage Sub-Zero
- A New Old Stock Amana Stor-More
- A 1964 GE Americana refrigerator-freezer