Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Beat It

Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Beat It

Article excerpt

MIXIN' THE FIXIN'S OF THE PERFECT MEAL

If you were the mother of a dozen children, you might look for time- and labor-saving devices, particularly in the kitchen. So it's not surprising that one of the people who, during the mid- 1900s, patented an electric mixer, was not only a mother of 12, but also a pioneer in industrial design and engineering. Her name? Lillian Moller Gilbreth, the woman who became immortalized in her children's book, Cheaper by the Dozen.

But Gilbreth could not claim to be the mixer's originator. That honor may go to Rufus Eastman, who in 1885 received the first official patent for an electric mixer, designed to be operated using mechanical, water or electrical power. That it changed how people cooked is obvious, for its ease and simplicity enabled even amateurs to turn out professional whipped, pureed and beaten dishes on par with the experts. After Eastman's creation, the rest is kitchen-convenience history-with one of the next notable inventions appearing in 1908, when Herbert Johnson, in his quest for a thorough and more sanitary method to mix bread dough, invented an 80-quart mixer, which may have been the prototype of today's KitchenAid.

In 1910 the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company introduced the Sunbeam Ironmaster. One year later, L.H. Hamilton, Chester Beach and Fred Osirus patented their first electric mixer--a single-- whip, rounded-motor machine mounted on a straight iron pole with a porcelain platform, an inbuilt electric plug and a spring-- loaded starter. To operate, one simply pushed the motor down into a jar or cup and it started; the motor stopped when the spring lift was released.

After World War I, a flood of patents was issued, especially during the 1920s and '30s, as women across the country came to rely more and more on electricity. Ease and convenience in the kitchen became the norm, and companies scrambled to capitalize on the needs of the new "modern" woman by promoting their appliances' ability to "do it all" at the touch of a button. …

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