5 Inventions That Changed Our Kitchens Forever
They have become the staple of many modern kitchen but where did they come from and what on earth would we do without them?
Invented by accident, the microwave has become one of the most important devices in modern kitchens. During the Second World War, Percy Spencer was making radar sets for the the US navy. While stood directly in front of one he noticed that the “candy bar” in his pocket had melted, caused by its close to the device. Intrigued, he set about heating other food, such as popcorn and by 1945 had patented his first oven, which stood 6ft tall and cost $5000. It wasn’t until the late Sixties that microwave ovens became affordable and reasonably sized. The first unit was sold in the UK in 1974 and has since revolutionised our eating habits.
The Electric Kettle
Stove top kettles have been around since pre-historic times, but it is the invention of the electric kettle which has made tea-making an easier task. The Victorian fashion for drinking tea, plus the advancements in electrical technology, including of the invention of the light bulb by Thomas Edison, paved the way for the first electric kettles in the 1890s. The first one is said to have been made by Crompton & Co of Birmingham around 1893, with the heat and water elements stored in separate compartments to stop them from mixing. This problem was modified in the 1920s by another company, Bulpitt & sons, before being developed further by another more familiar firm called Russell Hobbs in 1955. Their solution was to have a switch which automatically cut the power supply once the water had reached a certain temperature, something which is still present on modern kettles today.
It may surprise you that the first recorded dishwasher was recorded in 1850 and designed by Joel Houghton. Thirty-six years later, a wealthy American lady called Josephine Cochrane was so tired of her servants always breaking her best crockery whilst cleaning them; she set about making a machine which would wash them instead. Her dishwasher was patented and went into production. It sprayed water over pots and dishes on a rack, driven by a hand pulley. Her invention was further modified by British army officer, Howard Livens in the 1920s and by the end of the decade had gone on general sale in the USA for the first time. Interrupted by the depression, war and the cost of production the dishwasher did not make an impression on British households until the 1970s
The Pop-up Toaster
Toasting bread has been part of human history since the Roman Times, but the first electronic pop-up toaster was patented by American inventor, Charles Strite in 1921. Building on a previous invention by Scotsman, Alan McMasters in the late 19th Century he added the pop-up element which has remained a familiar sound in kitchens around the globe and replaced the antiquated toasting fork forever.
The George Foreman grill
This is a relatively recent invention and was first conceived in the early 1990s by inventor, Michael Boehm of Illinois. His idea was to create an indoor grill which could cook both sides at once and drain the fat away from food to make it healthier. At first Boehm’s new invention failed to take off, but finally it came to the attention of Salton Inc, who made appliances. The company’s lawyer showed the invention to the boxer, George Foreman and his wife, who loved it so much they helped to launch it. A famous TV advert in 1994 featuring the veteran boxer finally brought this lean, mean fat reducing machine to the masses.