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Retro Appliances; Vintage Mixers, Toasters, Fans and Blenders

Updated on June 16, 2011

Although it's hard to believe, helpful electrical household appliances -vacuum cleaners, mixers, toasters, washing machines, fridges etc. have only been around since the early 20th Century. Such things revolutionized modern life, particularly for women, who no longer had to spend hours hand washing clothes or beating rugs.

The invention of appliances changed the social fabric, as domestic servants became more and more a rarity in the twentieth century. Middle class women began to do their own housework and of course, those on the bottom of the social rung had always done their own work, only now the load was lightened.

Although kitchens have been around for a very long time and there's always been gadgets to help with domestic chores, it was really the invention of electricity that caused the home revolution...once houses were wired for power, the appliances just kept on coming. For the first time, automated machines could take over some of the labour intensive jobs that had taken so long beforehand.

Original pre-colour vintage Sunbeam mixmaster
Original pre-colour vintage Sunbeam mixmaster
Vintage Inspired KitchenAid mixer
Vintage Inspired KitchenAid mixer
Sunbeam Heritage Series
Sunbeam Heritage Series

Vintage Mixers

The very first mixer was invented in 1908 by an engineer who worked for the Hobart Manufacturing Company. His name was Herbert Johnson and the idea came to him while he was watching a baker mix dough with a wooden spoon. Aha, he thought, I can do better than that and he came up with a standing beater capable of beating 80 quarts. The design was meant for commercial purposes and by 1915 was a big hit but in 1919 the Hobart Company brought out the Kitchen Aid; a beater for home use.

The Sunbeam Mixmaster was invented by Ivar Jepson . It was patented in 1928, and by 1930, was mass marketed to an enthusiastic public. The mixmaster made cake making, whipping cream and much more, a whole lot easier. In 1952 Sunbeam brought out the first hand held electric beater and in 1954 colours other than white were introduced and from then on they came in pastel blue, green and pink as these were the popular design colours of the era.

In recent years the unique rounded styling of these old mixers has found a renewed popularity and have inspired modern designs. They definitely add an aura of retro charm to any kitchen. Of course if you're aiming for a totally vintage kitchen, they're a must-have.

Waring modern blender in retro green
Waring modern blender in retro green

Vintage Blenders

Along with mixers, the invention of blenders made food processing a breeze. What took ages to cut and mash could be whipped up in the blender in seconds. Purees, dips and milkshakes were now a breeze.

Ste Poplawski invented the first blender in 1922, by coming up with the idea of putting a spinning blade in the bottom of a jug like container. A man called Fred Osius ideveloped Poplawski's idea further and in 1935 came out with the famous Waring Blender.

Osius needed finacial backing and teemed up with Fred Waring, however technical problems surfaced and Waring ended up putting Osius out in the cold and instead thad the blender successfully redesigned by someone else in 1937. In 1937/38 the blenders retailed for $29.95, which was a large amount of money in those days.

Vintage Toasters

n 1905 Albert Marsh discovered nichomite, the filament needed to toast bread and in 1909 Frank Shailor invented the first toaster for domestic use, which was sold by General Electric.

The first pop up toaster was invented for the restaurant industry in 1919 by Charles Strite, a mechanic, who was tired of witnessing all the burnt toast in the cafeteria of his company plant. Strite decided that a device was needed to eliminate the human element of remembering to get the toast out of the toaster, so he came up with springs and a variable timer.

Toasters really took off in a big way in 1933 with the introduction of standardized sliced bread.The design elements of toasters found their stride in the 1950s with streamlined shapes and space-age looking shiny chrome materials. Some believe the look of a 1950s toaster can't be beaten for style and feel and they too, have seen a resurgance among modern designers.

Reprodyuction of a vintage Vornado fan
Reprodyuction of a vintage Vornado fan

Vintage Fans

Prior to 1886, there was virtually no form of home cooling apart from manual labour; that is, someone operating a hand fan. The first electric fan was invented by twenty-two year old engineer, Schulyer Wheeler, who harnessed the new force of electricity to make a desktop fan with two turning blades.

The fan had no safety grill, was powered by an electric motor and marketed by Crocker & Curtis Electric Motor Co.However it wasn't until the twentieth century that the fans were used domestically.

Around the same time Schuyler came up with his table fan, Philip H. Diehl was inventing the ceiling fan, by using a sewing machine motor. Later he developed this ceiling fan to include a ceiling light.

Modern fans are high tech appliances that use much lower energy than air conditioners - a good quality electric fan with a high rating can cover as much as 1500 square feet...and they look cool.


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