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The best small appliances ever made, and why


Fat Guy
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My K45 Kitchen Aid mixer, with all the attachments (except for a pasta-roller, which I recently bought) is still going strong after more than 45 years.  A spoke on the whisk just broke and I was able to buy a new whisk from Kitchen Aid (instead of their saying: it's an old model and we don't carry those parts any more, a la computer companies)

KitchenAid's support is absolutely amazing. It's like they haven't been paying attention to anything every other American company's done in the past 100 years at all. No scripts, no outsourcing and no underpaid teenagers. That's the main reason why I'll still buy their newer stuff even if there are a few plastic parts here and there--if something breaks, you can always get it fixed and quickly.

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[A]m I the only owner of a vintage Rival Ice-O-Matic ice crusher? This machine is so far superior to the lousy machine in my new refrigerator it's scary.

Electric or hand-operated?

Two hand-operated Ice-O-Mats (one chrome bullet, one plastic box) and one electric Ice-O-Matic.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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does anyone remember what happened to cuisinart? they made one very simple, very reliable, very perfect appliance. and then once everybody who was going to buy one did, they nearly went broke.

Got one at my FIRST wedding :wink: in 1981......still using it, although the top needs replacing. Replaced the hubby in 1991............ :laugh:

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does anyone remember what happened to cuisinart? they made one very simple, very reliable, very perfect appliance. and then once everybody who was going to buy one did, they nearly went broke.

My DLC7 from 1980 is still working fine. Well... a piece of the safety interlock on the lid snapped off last year and I had to order a replacement bowl and lid. The replacement cost more than the whole original processor.

Jim

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I got this at a flea market a while back because we had one when I was a kid and I always liked the straight forward design and ease of use. I recently bought some tangerines that were wonderfully juicy and well flavored, but so full of seeds that they were hard work to eat. Juice O-Matic to the rescue!

gallery_1900_4385_1196671.jpg

HC

Edited by HungryChris (log)
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Yes, that would be an interesting computation. I wonder if a top-of-the-line waffle baker purchased in 1950 cost the equivalent in today's dollars

Give me a price, I'll calculate it in 2007 dollars.

I don't have a 1950. Is 1947 close enough?

This is a Sunbeam price list - the waffle baker and toaster and Coffeemaster are near the bottom.

gallery_17399_60_137843.jpg

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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There's an interesting website called measuringworth.com that provides multiple versions of the historical dollar value comparison. For this particular amount, comparing 1947 to 2005 (it only goes up to 2005), the results were:

In 2005,  $21.00  from 1947 is worth:

$183.59  using the Consumer Price Index

$152.65  using the GDP deflator

$285.05  using the value of consumer bundle

$324.60  using the unskilled wage

$519.08  using the nominal GDP per capita

$1,071.14  using the relative share of GDP

Kind of amazing that you can still get a waffle baker, albeit a piece of crap, for $21 today.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The $21 toaster would be $193.52 today using federal reserve CPI and inflation rates.  the coffe maker would be $264.94.

The Sunbeam toaster and waffle baker I have are still working just fine, as is the Mixmaster. I inherited all of them from my grandmother. The Coffeemaster vacuum pot is one I purchased in 2004 on ebay, still in its original box, unused.

When one considers the hourly rate earned by the average worker in those days, these prices were significant.

Inexpensive appliances, made by Bersted, Dominion and others, could be purchased for less than 10.00.

Many of these inexpensive appliances were given away by banks, for opening new accounts. They were also given away at drawings in theaters, between features - usually on a weeknight.

Television had yet to take a big bite out of theater business.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Here is my Model 1B3 Toastmaster toaster that I inherited from my long departed Grandmother Minnie. She told me she purchased it in the thirties in NYC and that it cost at least a week's wages. It weighs 5lbs. 4 oz. is made of brass and mica with bakelite handles. It has a clockwork timer. It was manufactured by Waters-Genter Co. of Mpls Minn USA and carries a serial number of 185881. I figure its now some 70 years old.

Its beautiful and makes wonderful toast. Its missing the timer adjuster knob and I have replaced the cord several times over the years. We use it every day.

gallery_38003_2160_723520.jpg

Jmahl

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Jmahl,

That is considered one of the classics. I have both the single slice and the two-slice and they both still work beautifully.

I too have had cords replaced. The main thing is to keep them as clean as possible inside and avoid sticking anything down inside the toaster than can damage the core wires or the mica.

It was sold as a "Toastmaster" which was the premium appliance line of the Water-Genters division of McGraw Electric.

Look at the on pictured at Toaster Central - third pic from the top.

I have several Toastmasters as well as Sunbeams and GE Hotpoints and a few others.

However, my favorites are these Art Deco styled beauties.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Jmahl,

That is considered one of the classics.  I have both the single slice and the two-slice and they both still work beautifully.

I too have had cords replaced.  The main thing is to keep them as clean as possible inside and avoid sticking anything down inside the toaster than can damage the core wires or the mica. 

It was sold as a "Toastmaster" which was the premium appliance line of the Water-Genters division of McGraw Electric.

Look at the on pictured at Toaster Central - third pic from the top.

I have several Toastmasters as well as Sunbeams and GE Hotpoints and a few others. 

However, my favorites are these Art Deco styled beauties.

Grandma Minnie would be proud.

Jmahl

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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My mother had an old waffle iron/grilled cheese grill -- I don't remember the brand but it certainly could have been a Sunbeam -- that she used all the years we were growing up and probably until the late 1980s. It had reversible plates that could easily be switched from waffle to flat, for making grilled cheese sandwiches. I've seen new grills with interchangeable plates, but no brand being made today has reversible plates, to my knowledge.

She also had a round electric grill/broiler that looked like a two-handled stainless steel skillet with a domed lid. It had one heating element and could be flipped over (top or bottom) to act as a broiler or a grill. Wonderful!

[Arrgh! The typo gremlins are out to get me!]

Edited by SuzySushi (log)

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I have an absolutely spectacular deco-styled chrome sandwich press from the 40's that makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches known to man. I'll try and take a photo of it so I can show it to all of you. It's very cool and gets a workout in my kitchen. I do love me a good grilled cheese sandwich. :smile:

edited to add:

And you can all laugh at me if you want, but my Magic Bullet gets a workout in my kitchen too. Especially for protein shakes every morning. Right in the mug container. Works like a charm. And all the parts are dishwashable. Gotta love it.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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My mother had an old waffle iron/grilled cheese grill -- I don't remember the brand but it certainly could have been a Sunbeam -- that she used all the years we were growing up and probably until the late 1980s. It had reversible plates that could easily be switched from waffle to flat, for making grilled cheese sandwiches. I've seen new grills with interchangeable plates, but no brand being made today has reversible plates, to my knowledge.

She also had a round electric grill/broiler that looked like a two-handled stainless steel skillet with a domed lid. It had one heading element and could be flipped over (top or bottom) to act as a groiler or a grill. Wonderful!

Most of the waffle iron/sandwich grill appliances made during the '50s and 60s had reversable plates.

However some did have different plates. At least one had three sets of plates, one set for pizelle wafers.

The reversable plates were thicker and required higher voltage to heat to baking temp in a reasonable time.

The less expensive and lower wattage appliances used separate plates which were much thinner and heated more rapidly but they do not have as accurate a temperature control as the more expensive appliances.

Top of the line appliances of this type in the mid and later 1950s were Toastmaster, Sunbeam, Westinghouse and GE/Hotpoint.

Arvin was a small "intermediate" company that manufactured a consumer waffle/grill that was probably the heaviest and with the best temperature control. They are scarce but I have read of a couple that have been in regular use since the '50s. They were popular with small "mom & pop" cafés and diners.

Dominion, Berstead, Super-Electric, Dormeyer, plus other brands, and store brands, (often manufactured by these companies) were the lower end.

The top of the line manufacturers during the 1930s and part of the '40s were Manning Bowman, Landers, Frary & Clark, plus those listed above.

There were no small electric appliances (requiring metal) manufactured from 1942 to 1945 because of the War Production Board Order I.-41. Silex glass vacuum coffee makers, were the only small appliances produced because they were made mostly of glass which was not controlled.

All of the companies that were producing these toasters, waffle irons, etc., re-tooled for war production and made everything from uniform buttons to canteens to tank treads and electrical controls for military use.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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My mother had an old waffle iron/grilled cheese grill -- I don't remember the brand but it certainly could have been a Sunbeam -- that she used all the years we were growing up and probably until the late 1980s. It had reversible plates that could easily be switched from waffle to flat, for making grilled cheese sandwiches. I've seen new grills with interchangeable plates, but no brand being made today has reversible plates, to my knowledge.

She also had a round electric grill/broiler that looked like a two-handled stainless steel skillet with a domed lid. It had one heading element and could be flipped over (top or bottom) to act as a groiler or a grill. Wonderful!

Most of the waffle iron/sandwich grill appliances made during the '50s and 60s had reversable plates.

However some did have different plates. At least one had three sets of plates, one set for pizelle wafers.

The reversable plates were thicker and required higher voltage to heat to baking temp in a reasonable time.

The less expensive and lower wattage appliances used separate plates which were much thinner and heated more rapidly but they do not have as accurate a temperature control as the more expensive appliances.

Top of the line appliances of this type in the mid and later 1950s were Toastmaster, Sunbeam, Westinghouse and GE/Hotpoint.

Arvin was a small "intermediate" company that manufactured a consumer waffle/grill that was probably the heaviest and with the best temperature control. They are scarce but I have read of a couple that have been in regular use since the '50s. They were popular with small "mom & pop" cafés and diners.

Dominion, Berstead, Super-Electric, Dormeyer, plus other brands, and store brands, (often manufactured by these companies) were the lower end.

The top of the line manufacturers during the 1930s and part of the '40s were Manning Bowman, Landers, Frary & Clark, plus those listed above.

There were no small electric appliances (requiring metal) manufactured from 1942 to 1945 because of the War Production Board Order I.-41. Silex glass vacuum coffee makers, were the only small appliances produced because they were made mostly of glass which was not controlled.

All of the companies that were producing these toasters, waffle irons, etc., re-tooled for war production and made everything from uniform buttons to canteens to tank treads and electrical controls for military use.

Both small electric appliances probably would've been from the early 1950s. I honestly don't remember what brands they were, but they certainly gave many years of service. My mother used the waffle iron/sandwich grill at least once a week, and the broiler/grill twice as often. I have no idea what happened to them. They were not part of her estate, and I presume that at some point over the years, they either stopped working and were thrown out, or she donated them to charity. She didn't do much cooking in her final years.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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  • 1 month later...

My first post. Hopefully I won't trip all over myself just yet.

While driving back from a jobsite yesterday, I felt compelled to visit the large Salvation Army distribution site north of my hometown. Occasionally they have old Magic Line pans or other interesting kitchen tidbits. If I hadn't been reading this thread in the morning, I likely wouldn't even have noticed this:

gallery_53941_4619_69793.jpg

Two dollars, because the hinge is bent and I acted disinterested. I plugged it in on site, it works fine, and everything appears to function/light up just like it should. Sadly, it doesn't have the removable flat plates, just the waffle ones, but I'll suffer through somehow. :biggrin:

Now comes the real question, and my reason for posting.

gallery_53941_4619_110899.jpg

How should I go about cleaning this thing? Anything I need to be wary of to avoid ruining the griddle surfaces themselves? I figured Brasso or something similar would work fine for the chrome, but I've never worked with cast aluminum before. Help?

--Ben

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My first post. Hopefully I won't trip all over myself just yet.

While driving back from a jobsite yesterday, I felt compelled to visit the large Salvation Army distribution site north of my hometown.  Occasionally they have old Magic Line pans or other interesting kitchen tidbits.  If I hadn't been reading this thread in the morning, I likely wouldn't even have noticed this:

gallery_53941_4619_69793.jpg

Two dollars, because the hinge is bent and I acted disinterested. I plugged it in on site, it works fine, and everything appears to function/light up just like it should.  Sadly, it doesn't have the removable flat plates, just the waffle ones, but I'll suffer through somehow.  :biggrin:

Now comes the real question, and my reason for posting.

gallery_53941_4619_110899.jpg

How should I go about cleaning this thing? Anything I need to be wary of to avoid ruining the griddle surfaces themselves? I figured Brasso or something similar would work fine for the chrome, but I've never worked with cast aluminum before. Help?

--Ben

Not sure on the cleaning, but you might find the plates flip over and are flat on the other side.

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Not sure on the cleaning, but you might find the plates flip over and are flat on the other side.

I checked that when I looked it over before purchase, and this doesn't appear to be the later reversible model. The back sides of these plates are a rough negative of the waffle pattern.

--Ben

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I use Carbon-Off, which you can find at Smart & Final.

If it is impossible to remove the grids, which is common on the irons from the '30s,

I mask everything carefully, with plastic and plastic tape, leaving just the grids uncovered, and wrap the cord tightly with plastic wrap next to the appliance, then coil the cord and put in inside a small plastic bag.

You have to use the Carbon-Off outside - use newspapers - If you can remove the grids, it is better to take them out. Usually there is a latch or a catch, each brand is different, on the hinge side.

I will see if I can get a close up photo and post it a bit later.

Be carefull to cover the electric coil between the top and bottom too, if you can't remove the grids.

The best thing to clean the chrome is Mother's Mag wheel polish that you can find at any automotive place.

I think I bought my last jar at AutoZone but I have also found it at Pep Boys, etc.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Okay, I saw that you have been able to remove them so the masking thing is moot.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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