The Changes to home appliances over the last 50 yearsKitchen appliances were designed to make life easier when cooking and preparing food. Since the mid-1800s, people have been thinking of new and innovative ways to store food, cook food and clean up after eating food. Many of these ideas were good enough to be used by a large number of people and they are still around today. Inventors are still trying to make things easier by coming up with new products that do more things. Following is a few of the inventions that have stood the test of time and continue to be used by millions of Americans today.
The stove is something that most people could not do without. Whether you prefer gas or electric, stoves are the main source of cooking food in American homes today. The first gas stoves were invented in the early 1850's. It took awhile for the idea to catch on because only 100 Americans owned a gas stove in the next few years. By 1912, gas stoves were being challenged by the more convenient electric stoves. The electric stoves used convection to heat food rather than a flame. The Copeman Electric Stove Company, based in Flint, Michigan, received the first patent for an electric stove in 1912 and continued to perfect their technology in following years. Today, people can choose between gas and electric. Since they are both safe and serve the same purpose, the stove that people use is generally a matter of personal preference.
If the stove was the most important kitchen appliance product of the 1800s, the refrigerator was possible the most important appliance in the 1900s. Although the idea of cooling foods dates back to the ancient Roman era, the idea for the modern electric refrigerator was patented in 1914. Other patents occurred before this one, but the model for the 1914 patent was the one that resembles today’s refrigerator. The electric refrigerator was detrimental to the ice industry of the day because it no longer required ice to cool foods. Rather, it used a convection technology that produced cold air within an insulated box. By 1944, 85% of American households had a refrigerator, but new advances continued to keep consumers intrigued. In 1952, refrigerators began to be produced with an automatic ice maker. A few years later, the magnetic strip that helps to keep the doors closed tightly was standard on new refrigerators.
The dishwasher has become an integral part of any American kitchen. While some still consider this appliance to be a luxury rather than a necessity, the overwhelming majority of American households have a dishwasher. The first patent for an appliance that resembles the dishwasher occurred in 1850 by Joel Houghton. Then in 1893, Josephine Cochran brought the idea to the public eye at the Chicago World’s Fair. The daughter of the steamboat inventor, Josephine needed a machine to wash her dishes because her servants continually cracked her fine China. Dishwashers with permanent plumbing were not brought to the public until the 1920s and the drying mechanism was patented in the 1940s. By the early 1970s, dishwashers had become quite common in American households and they continue to be popular today due to all of their advancements and the luxury that they provide.
Finally, the microwave oven is one of the most innovative and widely used kitchen appliances today. Since it cooks food fast, almost every household in America owns a microwave oven. The first patent for a microwave oven was received in 1940, but the first marketable product was not created until 1947. This was called the Radarange and it was over six feet tall and weighed almost 800 pounds. It was not until 1967 when countertop sized microwave ovens were available for kitchens. Once the compact size was introduced to the public, Americans bought them in droves. Between 1970 and 1975, the amount of microwaves sold in stores grew exponentially. Today, they are an essential part of any household and there are a full line of foods that are specifically made to be warmed up in the microwave oven.
Kitchen appliances normally begin with an idea but they end with something that leaves people wondering how they functioned before its invention. Though some ideas take decades before they are perfected and mass marketed, Americans eagerly await the next new thing to make their life more hassle-free. This is most evident with infomercials which are constantly praising the ease of new kitchen products. With creative minds and the public’s acceptance, the future possibilities of kitchen appliances are endless.