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Crock Pot in the kitchen: A short history.

Updated on August 4, 2009

A short history of a much loved home kitchen appliance.

The Rival Crock Pot is to the history of home kitchen slow-cooking what Walt Disney is to the history of family theme parks.

Since 1970, the Crock Pot has been making meal preparation so much easier for many of us, but the funny thing is that it was actually a 'what if' byproduct of an earlier invention and could have easily never even seen the light of day. In late 1970, Rival acquired the assets of the Naxon Utilities Corp. Along with this came the patent rights to a device called the "beanery"; this device was a slow cooker of sorts, intended for use in the cooking of beans. This item was not seen as having any strong commercial appeal for home kitchens, but the Rival company nevertheless let their on-staff cooks play around with it. Soon enough it became clear to them that the beanery appliance had another potential use: it could be used to cook various types of meat, and what's more, it could do so better than it did with beans. Soon after the modern Crock Pot slow cooker was born! The first Rival Crock Pot slow cooker was released to the domestic market in 1971. It came with a basic crock interior, a glass lid, and a bright red exterior.

In 1974, Rival introduced one of their first innovations to the Crock Pot, witrh the introduction of the Rinse-Clean removable stoneware liner, to make it easier to clean your Crock Pot after use. By 1981 sales of Crock Pot brand slow cookers had topped $30 million - just 10 years after its commercial release. Things kept changing at the Crock Pot compound, and in 1997 the oval Crock Pot slow cooker was introduced, making it more convenient to use it with more oblong roasts. Of course the standard round shaped Crock was still made available after this.Rival kept up with the times, and in 2001 the first programmable slow cooker was introduced, called the Smart-Pot. In 2003, the Crock Pot line was expanded even further, with the introduction of the Recipe Smart-Pot, which came complete with over 200 preprogrammed recipes. In 2004, Rival introduced it's new VersaWare which featured ETC (Extreme Temperature Stoneware) and made it available in stores. The unique stoneware could be used in slow cookers, on stovetops, in the oven, in the microwave or in the refrigerater. The stoneware has a surface area equivalent to a skillet which allows for sauteing as well. Today, we are at the point where many Rival Crock Pot replacement parts and accessories are available; transportable Crocks with lid clamps are available, vegetable cookers are available (talk about coming full circle, huh?), as are travel cases and dust covers. There is a whole range of gadgets and Rival crockpot accessories available including the Little Dipper sauce crock as well as non scratching utensils. Of course, there is also a plethora of Crock Pot sanctioned slow cooking recipe books available for the slow cooking enthusiast.

Rival Tidbits

Most people know that the Rival company was the Originator of the Crock Pot brand of slow cooker which revolutionized the home kitchen, but here are a couple of things that might not be such common knowledge to most.

The Rival company has been designing electric kitchen appliances for the domestic (home) market since 1932: the Rival Can-O-Mat, released over 60 years ago, was one of their early big successes.

Both Rival and the now seperate entity Crock Pot companies now operate as subsidiaries of Sunbeam Products, which is doing business under the name of Jarden Consumer Solutions - which is itself a subsidiary of the Jarden Corperation. Whew!


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      Ingrid 5 years ago

      I have an invention to use with the crock pot-where do I send it?

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      Polly 6 years ago

      What was the original size of the Crock Pot?

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      Russell Hoover 7 years ago

      We had the same Rival Crockpot for years

      Since they changed the lid design, we've had two in the last year

      The plastic handles and hinges broke off after two uses

    • profile image

      Mark  8 years ago

      THANKS for posting this interesting history. I knew Rival had been around for many years, but did NOT know about the "beanery" My mom was one of the original 1970's "super-moms" and she used hers faithfully. They must have influenced me a lot, as I now have a matching set of the original pots in burnt orange. The earlier sealed models seem to cook more evenly, even though they're not as easy to clean.....

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      jennifer bhala 9 years ago

      Crockpots are great for cooking in. I remember when they came out. They were all the rage

    • dreamscaper profile image

      dreamscaper 9 years ago from Vancouver, BC, Canada

      newcapo: thanks for the thumbs up!

      Bob: sorry but I couldn't really tell you anything that would be any more than aguess; you might want to check the Rival website for more specs on their products - you might find their user manuals online too which might answer your question. Good luck!

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      Bob Gammon 9 years ago

      I only want a Rival with side (surrond heat-not bottom)> Does the Versaware crock pot -programmable 6-qt. have this type of heat. Can't find info anywhere. Please?? RG

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      newcapo 9 years ago

      A had never read about the history of the crockpot, extremely interesting-I had no idea. Thanks.

    • Trsmd profile image

      Trsmd 9 years ago from India

      very good informative hubpage..

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      look what I found 9 years ago

      Thanks for telling me something new about something not so new: brief but really informative.

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      crockpot accessories 9 years ago

      Interesting to know about the origin of the crockpot - didnt know about the bean cooker thing. Didnt realize that crockpot was only from the seventies onwards.(thought it was older)

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      slow cooker 9 years ago

      Hey that is some interesting history! A nice read.