50 retro kitchen
25 july 1948 Bread rationing ends in Britain

website:
foodreference.com

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Inside The Retro Kitchen


Our little space

The austerity of the early 1950s gave way to rising incomes in the later 1950s and 1960s and the nation’s eating habits began to change. For the growing number of TV owners, Fanny Craddock brought a touch of sophistication to ’60s cooking.

The 1960s is renowned for being a decade of change, with different foods and cooking habits being introduced into the kitchen. Hey presto! spaghetti bolognese was adopted as a British favourite, a good souffle showed everyone what a great cooking appliance you had and cheese fondue gatherings were the in thing.


It’s not that until the 1950s there had been no cookers in the home, because there had been for a long time. It was for two other main reasons that our cooking style changed drastically and an explosion of foods occured. Dinner parties were a way of showing off. People don’t invite their boss to dinner any more so we have left a lot behind since the 60s, but it was a necessary formative period for domestic cooking, food preparation and storing.

The first main reason was due to the fact the world was recovering from a world war, where food was controlled by government and rationed. The other reason was that food availability and the amount of ingredients available grew fast and to unprecedented levels that had never been know before, even before the war.

The immigration of Chinese and Indian people into Britain, England in particular, saw culinary cultures merging with our own. In just a few decades the UK would claim the dish chicken tikka masala as its national dish. People were just getting into the thrill of cooking at home when a whole take away culture was also brewing.

The variety of foods available at supermarkets doubled during the sixties. Sainsbury’s sold 2,000 items in 1960 and 4,000 towards the end of the decade. As well as canned goods growing ever more popular than ever since the 1930s, fresh produce was flying in from all over the world but the main development was in frozen food.

In 1941 Frigidaire introduced a small freezer above the fridge, the 40s developed larger compartments, gas run fridge/freezer’s, quieter motors, adjustable shelves and a drainage system. The ‘quick-freeze’ units as they were known, could keep food for more than a week and with the decade most cold storage manufacturers were manufacturing refrigerators with small freezer compartments. Water and ice dispensing became available in the 1970s. The invention of frozen food containers and the controlling of humidity in freezers by an American bacterial chemist, allowed food to be distributed large scale.

In Britain the progress was slower. By the time North America had freezing compartments as standard in 1971, in Britain only 4% of households had a freezer until 1985 when this rose to 95%. This was why the British food retailer Bejam was so successful, having been established in 1968 to sell only frozen foods. Bejams had row upon row of chest freezers recognising that essentially, Britain’s households did not have this facility. People could stock the freezer every three months and pay for it weekly. Additionally Bejam tapped into the white goods market selling appliances under its own brand name which accounted for a small part of its revenue. Bejam remained a success until it was bought out by Iceland in 1989.

One other important factor that drove competition in the food industry at this time was the abolishment of the Resale Price Maintenance laws, whereby manufacturers set item prices printed on the packet or tin, which basically enslaved retailers to sell at that price by law.

In 1964 retailers were allowed to set their own prices. As much as creating competition, a significant advantage also presented itself to the larger retail outlets due to their bulk purchasing potential. It obviously did Tesco no harm four years later they coined the term ‘superstore’ for a new shop they opened in Crawley in 1968. These circumstances also paved the way for the supermarket price wars that would follow much later on in the future.

Tupperware, plastics and synthetic flavours all arrived in the 1960s. Thanks to TV cooks such as Deliah Smith and Julia Childs foreign recipes were introduced to the nation, in particular French fare like beef bourguignon and Veal Cordon Bleu.


The funny thing is, retro foods from the 1960s are making a come back in culinary circles. People are craving a prawn cocktail at the table instead of from the plastic tub from the supermarket. As well as the French recipes and techniques shown on 60s TV, the table also presented many cold alternatives in the form of salads and meats, presented in a myriad of forms.

It truly was an age of wonder about what we could do with food. But was it any wonder when you consider that most budding home chefs were used to food being rationed.

The culinary basics of butter, cheese, margarine, cooking fat, bacon, meat and tea were rationed until 1954, with sugar until 1953. So when the 60s came upon them not only did they have unlimited amounts of whatever ingredients they could afford, but also a modern kitchen to create things in. Remember that food was seasonal up until the 60s, at which time the advent of freezing made some foods available all year round, now there were tomatoes in the winter for the first time.

This chart illustrates the understanding at the time of the food groups and benefits from nutrients. Note that cheese seems to be the answer to everything.

Compared to the dire situation in war time it must have seemed like paradise at the end of the 50s and start of the 60s with all these ingredients and emerging technologies. The main problem with British cuisine is that there was none to talk about. In a way it was yet to be invented.

Rationing had started in 1940 and most of the rationed items were being imported, e.g. National Dairy (as Kraft Foods was known then,) sent Britain four million pounds of processed cheese each week. With as little as one egg per person a week allowed, cuisine pretty much stayed the same after the war until rationing ended.

When people had more eggs than they could shake a stick at as well as butter and sugar, the only things they do were basic recipes they might remember. There was no British culinary art to build up again after rationing. For this reason French and European chefs were seen to rise above the British. European neighbours thought the British knew nothing about food and had no cuisine at al, and they were right.

To fill this gap in our culinary knowledge, the first TV programmes emerged, manufacturers put recipes on their tins and packaging and magazines were filled with new recipe ideas. The magazines could milk a recipe; anything could be put in pastry and called en croute, anything could be put in jelly, any combination of cold ingredients could pass for a salad and anything that would melt could make a fondue. In this respect the 60s cuisine could be described with very few words; jelly moulds, en croute, fondue parties and salads.

Television focused on a lot of foreign food. TV cooks like Julia Child brought French dishes into the British home with recipes like beef Bourguignon. During the war the nation had become familiar with Spam canned from America and snoek, a fish from South Africa. Some families did keep chickens, ducks and rabbits to eat.

Everything in jellO/jellY

The 60s perfected jelly moulding to an art form. On the jelly/jello packets were printed many ideas on what to encase in the jelly. Results looked funky, which was a trait of the times so jellied food took on. In the age of dinner parties jelly moulds are the eye-catching centrepiece on your table.

Desserts were not forgotten during the 1960s culinary renaissance. It’s just that you could get away with covering anything with jelly and it was fashionable. The poor person’s dessert maybe.

Salads also were encased in gelatin moulds. Can you imagine salad leaves and mayonnaise set in lime lime jelly.

Both in America and Britain gelatin really made food look avant-garde. You can mould it to any shape, drop anything in it and it will set in suspension, and the final product makes the whole look shiny and bristling with colour. Perfect characteristics for the 1960s.

The only problem was, by all accounts researched, that the food was pretty bland. This is why salad cream and brown sauce are so piquant, to compensate for that. Remember there were not many foreign spices imported into the country.

It looks nice in the advertisements but in reality this is what you would likely get on the plate.

Recently, The Gilbert Scott restaurant in London St Pancras has launched a cookery book with chef Marcus Wareing, which re-imagines traditional British dishes such as cock-a-leekie pie and Mrs Beeton’s barbecue chicken.

There’s a lot more about JellY / JellO on this site, think you can stomach more.

1960s TV Dinners

With freezers in the home, the ready meal soon became an interesting concept. They were called TV dinners and meals often came in trays with compartments for each food item. A theme that had been perfected in the airline industry.

If you weren’t cooking your mother’s recipes from before the war or hosting a dinner party then this is what you might be having for tea. Or you might be following a simple recipe provided on the side of a can or packet. Dessert may be a quick and easy mix up of a packet of angel delight.

In fact the term ‘TV dinner’ was trademarked by an American food company called C.A. Swanson & Sons back in 1953 for a brand of their packaged meals made for the North American market.

An intelligent marketing move as 20% of America had televisions during the 1950s and by 1953 they were selling 13 million TV Dinners a year. In 1955 the company was acquired by the Campbell Soup Company.

50s kitchen design

The Kitchen late 1950s early 1960s

The Main difference between American and British
kitchens is the design and size of the fridge
and cooker. Americans also liked to incorporate a
bar type design where people ate at a counter and
bringing the American Diner concept into the home.


Styling

1950s Kitchens
Soft curves became the defining feature of kitchen cabinets and furnishings. The “English Rose” kitchen range developed in Britain, featuring moulded aluminum cabinets. Formica counter-tops became increasingly popular,especially their iconic ‘Skylark’ series with its ‘boomerang’ pattern. Aluminium edgings covered counter-top edges, and the formica covered aluminum ‘dinette’ suite became an icon for modern living.

1960s Kitchens
A range of different styles in kitchens with a return to natural wood and the inclusion of the outdoors via windows and plants. The rounded corners of the 1950s were replaced by squared edges on appliances and cabinets. Wood finishes became popular again, especially in plywood veneers, plain fronts reigned in cabinetry and glass fronts disappeared. Brick trim on walls, plants on display and a more open kitchen were popular.

Formica
Formica is the brand name for the invention of the original High Pressure Laminate (HPL). It became a popular choice for the interiors of cafes, trains and ocean liners up until the second world war when the company focused its production to help the American war effort. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Formica Brand truly moved from industrial application to decorative laminate products for modern lifestyles, setting up a Design Advisory Board which ensured the company stayed at the forefront of kitchen design between 1960 and 1983.

Colours of the 60s

Colours in 1960s interior design were bright and the craze for avocado and turquoise went on right through the 70s too.

When the 70s arrived, kitchens became dare I say it ‘uglier’. Yes paisley and floral patters everywhere. There is a certain charm about the 70s just like any decade but there was some confusion when trying to incorporate popular 60s patterns and colours with contemporary 70s thinking.

Below: The same kitchen as above, but this time a 70s kitchen, trying to mix warm wood furniture with 60s bright colours. This was probably due to the crossover period between the use of bright colours for appliances to draw attention to them and the future use of white goods to standardise and take attention away from the appliance.

A scene from the 60s American TV show ‘bewitched’, showing the laundry room next to the kitchen.

Why avocado

Avocado and turquoise were so ubiquitous in the designs of 1960s. The shades differed but they were all the same, all considered to be avocado green shades. Colour trends can speak lots about an era’s social attitudes. But why green and blue, even the favoured turquoise of the 70s is made by mixing blue and green.

Throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s the kitchen was arguably the most important room of a home. With the introduction of new materials (such as linos and formica,) as well as the introduction of kitchen appliances, (such as the fridge), the evolution of kitchen colours throughout these three decades is a fascinating one.

The war was a harsh thing not easily overcome in the ensuing peace. Post war was a time of optimism and prosperity. It started off with pink being the predominant colour of the 1950s. Soft pink ushered women back into the home to nurture their families. It was also the beginning of a love of turquoise, which in the 1950s kitchen, was meant to encourage family relations. Third in line was a light buttery yellow, representing the intellect and a need to evolve one’s ego and enlightenment.

The scene had been set in the 50s. Fortunately for women however, the 60s was a time for migrating away from the kitchin. Appliances were the main attributable reason for lessening the burden of necessity to have the wife permanently staffing the kitchin. Colours reflect this change by becoming ever more brighter and an explosion of colour ensued through the decade. Additionally, the psychedelic nature of the swinging sixties was reflected in tablecloths, curtains and wallpapers.

Although turquoise and avocado followed well into the 60s and even 70s, mixing blue with yellow created the lime colour popular in the 60s. Red represented rebellion, but mixed with yellow, orange became an important hue of the age of aquarius representing change and transition from old to new ways. It was less common as a main colour for appliances and is mostly seen in enameled cookware.

The mid to late 70s saw bright colours giving way to muted tones and browns. Avocado was an important colour in the 70s because the lime of the 60’s gave way to the popular avocado green, which also replaced turquoise. One other hue of note for the 70s was Harvest Gold; a muted shade of yellow, pairing well with browns, greens and yellow. A colour called coppertone seen in the image below, was populer for the same reason.

Orange too remained extremely popular as it melted into the browns nicely. General Electric introduced avocado in 1965 and harvest gold in 1967. Avocado took 30 percent of the major-appliance market in 1971, and harvest gold captured more than 35 percent in 1976.

Coppertone appliances

If only the colour was of a real avocado people may have liked it better, it should have been called olive green, however it was the most successful hue of all in the end.

General Electric discontinued their popular 60s and 70s range of colours in the 80s and duller tomes came into the era with greys, ivory and almond tones, Grey was unpopular and was forgotten, but the other neutral tones eventually returned to the once original white, and it has remained the most popular colour since.

50s nostalgia

Having watched the first four episodes I find myself knocked down to the reality of the sixties. People behaved so rude towards women it makes you realise things were not spruced and pastel coloured like the Edward Scissorhands set. For many in England the 60s was just a continuation of the 50s. Freedom and equality was a fantasy of the great unwashed teenagers, students and hippies, and the swinging sixties was experienced by a select few, not the majority. For the U.S. it seems to have been the same.

The fifties and sixties differed slightly between America and the UK, but the feeling of being in the time seems the same, the food revolution, the hippies, the music and the styles and decor were very similar indeed.
rc=”http://www.tonyabbott.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/60s-girl.jpg”>
Me in the 60s


My husband and I in 1958.

50s & 60s Photo Nostalgia

“Hi, it’s easy to reflect on the 1950s as a simpler time, when life was somehow better and easier. On the contrary, life is always harder in the past, for us we had to deal with the growing pangs of a society moving away from social and racial discriminations. It was a time when old fashioned hostilities and sometimes ‘sensibilities’, were making way for new ways. New innovations and technologies led the way such as in air travel and appliances in the kitchen that shaped the way we eat and therefore affected the family social scene.

“Not lest us forget that every man held a view that women were house furniture kept in the home, that did the housework. Remember this may have been ‘de rigueur’ when men were out working on the farm, or slaving away deep in a coal mine, but come on, the 50s was a major break away from that, after all men moved from the coal face and into the office. The process was fully completed in the 70s with the closure of most pits.

“Sure men tried to ride that wave for as long as possible. Ever since 1897 when Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage, women have not gained much status other than the technical legal right to vote. It seems like the process picked up momentum again during the war years when women had a crucial role to play. After the war, we were not going to roll over and return to subservience. Not on your life.

“However, after the war the time of severe austerity lasted well into the 1950s and so we were stuck in a no-mans land, with women tied to the stove and men earning an evening in the pub after a days work and expecting their supper when deciding to go home. But there was no such release for women, other than a monthly tuppleware or Amway party and so social gathering at home developed around food and the kitchen.

“The late 1950s ethos saw business men inviting their boss to their home for dinner to enjoy the wife’s culinary expertise. It showed that a man had his domestic life well organised and that he was content, and grounded enough to be promoted when the next opportunity arose.

“By the 1960s a whole new concept had replaced the old ways, dinner parties were not just for your boss but for neighbours and friends and anyone you wanted to impress. TV cooks and literature on foods from around the world introduced all sorts of foods for the table, some dishes have stayed with us, and some gladly forgotten. Let’s be honest, how many people put their vegetables into jelly moulds these days. Cocktail parties were fab, where the drink is every bit as important as the food, and women can freely participate in a wee alcohol consumption without it being shameful.





Mill workers – Wigan, UK 1951



factory canteen staff – Gowerton, wales early 1960s



M1 1960s



Peascod Street, Windsor 1968





South Promenade, Blackpool 1960s



Children’s Christmas party, Fort Dunlop, Birmingham – 1960s





1960



1960s



Cotton Mill – Preston, UK 1960s



ford anglia 1960s



Fenwicks and Finlays




Broad Street, Reading, England 1960s Mr Bean closely followed by Derek Trotter



50s retro recipes


A voice from the era

The council house kitchen was pretty small with a gas cooker and a pantry. After we moved in my father knocked part of the kitchen wall out and installed a serving hatch with sliding doors.

The Sunday lunch would be about one o’clock and we all had to wash our hands before eating. We always had a Sunday roast of beef or lamb and chicken was considered a luxury in our house and many other working class households during the 1960. Sunday lunches came with roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, diced carrots, home grown stringy broad beans and yorkshire pudding with Bisto gravy. We often had a pudding with custard. Mostly it was in the form of a home made fruit tart but on occasion we would enjoy a volcanically hot baked Keswick cooking apple each.

Puddings were often a big fruit pie that mum made from shop bought or gathered fruit. Mum also made tons of jam – damson, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry etc. Raspberries and gooseberries were grown in the small back garden and we always had a glut of home grown tomatoes from the greenhouse. Behind the greenhouse there were three big rhubarb plants and they supplied the fresh rhubarb for many a yummy rhubarb pie sweetened with golden brown cane sugar.

I don’t recall us eating much fish at home but when we did it came from the fish/meat counter at the Co-op store. Other families ate fish religiously on Fridays. Sunday tea was a selection of crab paste, salmon paste or beef paste sandwiches or maybe a Cheddar cheese or ham salad with maybe sliced pork pie with Branston pickle or Piccalilli and pickled onions. There was usually a bowl of radishes and sticks of celery and also packets of Golden Wonder crisps at the table.

Salads were eaten at least three times a week but Saturday was the official Salad Tea day; cos lettuce and sliced cucumber, tomatoes and spring onions with table salt and vinegar to dip the onions and celery sticks into, maybe a pickled egg. A selection of cold meats included luncheon meat, spam, corned beef and brawn. Sometimes chips were served which we dunked in salad cream.

50s retro recipes


A voice from the era

The council house kitchen was pretty small with a gas cooker and a pantry. After we moved in my father knocked part of the kitchen wall out and installed a serving hatch with sliding doors.

The Sunday lunch would be about one o’clock and we all had to wash our hands before eating. We always had a Sunday roast of beef or lamb and chicken was considered a luxury in our house and many other working class households during the 1960. Sunday lunches came with roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, diced carrots, home grown stringy broad beans and yorkshire pudding with Bisto gravy. We often had a pudding with custard. Mostly it was in the form of a home made fruit tart but on occasion we would enjoy a volcanically hot baked Keswick cooking apple each.

Puddings were often a big fruit pie that mum made from shop bought or gathered fruit. Mum also made tons of jam – damson, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry etc. Raspberries and gooseberries were grown in the small back garden and we always had a glut of home grown tomatoes from the greenhouse. Behind the greenhouse there were three big rhubarb plants and they supplied the fresh rhubarb for many a yummy rhubarb pie sweetened with golden brown cane sugar.

I don’t recall us eating much fish at home but when we did it came from the fish/meat counter at the Co-op store. Other families ate fish religiously on Fridays. Sunday tea was a selection of crab paste, salmon paste or beef paste sandwiches or maybe a Cheddar cheese or ham salad with maybe sliced pork pie with Branston pickle or Piccalilli and pickled onions. There was usually a bowl of radishes and sticks of celery and also packets of Golden Wonder crisps at the table.

Salads were eaten at least three times a week but Saturday was the official Salad Tea day; cos lettuce and sliced cucumber, tomatoes and spring onions with table salt and vinegar to dip the onions and celery sticks into, maybe a pickled egg. A selection of cold meats included luncheon meat, spam, corned beef and brawn. Sometimes chips were served which we dunked in salad cream.

50s retro recipes


A voice from the era

The council house kitchen was pretty small with a gas cooker and a pantry. After we moved in my father knocked part of the kitchen wall out and installed a serving hatch with sliding doors.

The Sunday lunch would be about one o’clock and we all had to wash our hands before eating. We always had a Sunday roast of beef or lamb and chicken was considered a luxury in our house and many other working class households during the 1960. Sunday lunches came with roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, diced carrots, home grown stringy broad beans and yorkshire pudding with Bisto gravy. We often had a pudding with custard. Mostly it was in the form of a home made fruit tart but on occasion we would enjoy a volcanically hot baked Keswick cooking apple each.

Puddings were often a big fruit pie that mum made from shop bought or gathered fruit. Mum also made tons of jam – damson, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry etc. Raspberries and gooseberries were grown in the small back garden and we always had a glut of home grown tomatoes from the greenhouse. Behind the greenhouse there were three big rhubarb plants and they supplied the fresh rhubarb for many a yummy rhubarb pie sweetened with golden brown cane sugar.

I don’t recall us eating much fish at home but when we did it came from the fish/meat counter at the Co-op store. Other families ate fish religiously on Fridays. Sunday tea was a selection of crab paste, salmon paste or beef paste sandwiches or maybe a Cheddar cheese or ham salad with maybe sliced pork pie with Branston pickle or Piccalilli and pickled onions. There was usually a bowl of radishes and sticks of celery and also packets of Golden Wonder crisps at the table.

Salads were eaten at least three times a week but Saturday was the official Salad Tea day; cos lettuce and sliced cucumber, tomatoes and spring onions with table salt and vinegar to dip the onions and celery sticks into, maybe a pickled egg. A selection of cold meats included luncheon meat, spam, corned beef and brawn. Sometimes chips were served which we dunked in salad cream.

50s coffe drinking

Coffee Drinking

Article source: Retrowow

Tea was still Britain’s favourite drink in the 60s and Britons consumed more tea per head than any other nationality. However, tea was going out of favour. More and more people were putting on the kettle to make a cup of instant coffee instead.

Coffee brought a touch of continental sophistication to the UK. In the latter years of the 50s, young people looked to France and Italy for inspiration. They frequented espresso bars as teenagers and developed a taste for coffee.

The generation gap spread to the choice of coffee or tea. Older people still preferred Britain’s traditional cuppa, but by the end of the sixties, young housewives were stocking up with jars of instant coffee from Tesco, Sainsbury or Fine Fare instead.

Ground or instant?

Michael Caine, playing the fictional spy, Harry Palmer, demonstrated the perfect way to make a cup of ground coffee in the title sequence of the ‘Ipcress File’. Take fresh beans, grind them, boil a kettle, add the ground coffee and water to a cafetiere and plunge.

Cafetieres were very chic. Most people either brewed their coffee in a saucepan or used a percolator. Lyons’ was the most popular brand of ground coffee.

Instant coffee had been around since the 30s, but was not a big seller in the UK or the US, with most Americans preferring the taste of ground coffee. A famous study in the early 50s by Mason Haire of the University of California demonstrated the reason why. Two different groups of US housewives were shown two different shopping lists and asked to guess the personality of the shopper.

One group used words, such as ‘lazy’ and ‘poor planner’ and in one case ‘bad wife’ to describe the woman who owned the first list. The other group had no such negative comments. How were the lists different? Only in one item. On the first list was a jar of Nescafé, on the second 1lb of ground coffee. Conclusion, US housewives thought instant coffee was for lazy people.

Opinions in the UK in the early 50s were similar. Advertisers countered this negative perception by stressing the flavour and aroma of instant coffee rather than convenience.

By the end of the sixties one in 25 cups of coffee drunk was instant. In the late 50s the growth of supermarket trading provided anonymity. You didn’t have to ask an assistant for instant coffee, so there was no-one to think you were lazy. By the end of the sixties, instant coffee was re-habilitated. Housewives choosing instant were seen as busy, modern and outgoing. Whilst those preferring traditional coffee were viewed as dull and traditional.

Price may have also had something to do with the switch. A cup of coffee made from Lyons’ ground coffee, the leading brand, cost threepence. One made from instant coffee cost less than a penny


New blends and new processes

By the sixties there were many different blends and brands of instant coffee. For those with adventurous tastes Nescafé Blend 37 provided a quick way to enjoy strong continental style coffee.

By the end of the sixties a new process, freeze drying, was changing the instant coffee market. One of the first freeze dried instant coffees was Nescafé Gold Blend. By the end of the decade these brands of instant coffee were available.

Express Aroma Rich – 4s 4d for 4oz
Lyons – 3s 9d for 4oz
Maxwell House 4s 11d for 4oz
Nescafé 4s 11d for 4oz
Nescafé Gold Blend 6s for 4oz
Nescafé Blend 37 6s 4d for 4oz
Summer Gold (United Dairies) – 4s 3d for 4oz
Kenco Mild Roast 5s 6d for 4oz
Kenco Continental High Roast – 3s 3d for 2oz

Source: Which report, ‘Instant Coffee’ November 1969

Additionally own brand coffees were sold in supermarkets. Waitrose, Mac Fisheries, Pricerite, Safeway, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, the Co-op, Fine Fare, Key Market, Marks and Spencer (St Michael), Woolworth’s (Kingsmere), Littlewoods (Keynote), Mace, VG and Spar all had their own instant coffee brands.

The vast majority of instant coffees were pretty much the same, particularly the own brand versions Some had different flavours. Those closest to real coffee taste were the more expensive ones, for example Kenco Mild Roast, Nescafé Gold Blend and Nescafé Blend 37. Nothing much really changes in the world of instant coffee.

Decaf

By the sixties there were a small number of decaffeinated coffees available. It was a tiny market and few people saw a reason to drink decaf. However by 1969, you could get:

Nestlé Decaf – 3s 11d for 2oz
Café HAG 5s 3d for 4oz
Symington’s Decaffeinated

50s whats in the fridge

What’s in the fridge

A retro fridge is a beautiful thing as demonstrated below, there are plenty of modern day manufacturers making retro fridges with bulky rounded doors that look like safes and wouldn’t look out of place in a bank.

These rounded fridge types are indicative of the 40s, 50s and 60s, previously fridges were hidden in cabinets in order to disguise as as furniture. The 40s saw functional fridges, in the 50s these were proudly displayed and by the 60s doors became flatter and emphasis shifted to what the fridge had inside in terms of fridge space and freezing capacity.


A 1960s fridge. You can tell because of the flat door design with the unabashed motor on display at bottom to create more space in the fridge. Also note the jelly’s, the iconic foodstuff of the era.


Above photograph found in google images. Used here for fair use to demonstrate typical fridge contents. Any issue regarding copyright please contact the website administrator by emailing email@tonyabbott.co.uk

A 1960s fridge. Note the flat doors design. Perhaps the best way to see what would have been inside a 50s/60s fridge is to look at fridge adverts of that period and see the ingredients that were available, even though the advert designers may have been a little exuberant in stocking the fridge to its limit. Most families no doubt would not have been anywhere near so opulent but it does demonstrate how the ‘ideal’ fridge might look.

Until the 1950s fridges were all white, still today kitchen appliances are referred to as white goods (fridges, washing machines, dish washers). But the 50s saw colour, offering exciting new ways to design kitchens.

Examples: Stratford Yellow, Sherwood Green, Turquoise Green, Petal Pink and Canary Yellow. A plethora of colours were introduced but most were not popular, Cadet Blue and Woodtone Brown for example not lasting more than ten years, and most other colours not even lasting that long. The three colours that survived into the mid sixties and beyond were: Standard yellow, pink and turquoise, with Coppertone being the new popular shade.

Coppertone and Turquoise were the favourites until the late 60s when they were overtaken by Harvest Gold and Avocado which would remain popular choices throughout the 70s.

White has always been the most purchased. It makes small areas look larger by blending in easier with the overall space and will adjust to new decorating whims.



Deep ‘Freeze’ & Personal

top left: Some guy found an old fridge and this is what was inside, dating back to the 60s. The absence of food is a mystery.

Gordon Russell
from Cumbria

Doris Stogdale

Carol Ashley

How nice to have newsworthy items about your fridge that newspapers are interested enough to print.

Well these three people are documented for posterity to bring some dignity back to the humble British fridge, or dare I say it … ‘refrigerator’.

Read their ‘cool’ stories, further down on this page:

lower left: I think this is scene is taken from the 60s series bewitched. Nice avocado colour which was a popular shade during the period.

Still going after 92 years: The fridge that cost more than a Model T Ford

>

Article source: MailOnline, 13 November 2010
Photos by Mark Richards & MailOnline

In our modern world, they are everyday items which rarely merit a second glance.

But when this fridge was made, it cost more than a car and was the luxury preserve of the very wealthy.

The timber-framed model is still going strong after being brought to Britain from the U.S. shortly after the First World War.


Pride of the kitchen for three generations: Ian’s 92-year-old ‘Frigidair’.


Back in the day: The very first of the refrigerator ranges.

It cost $775 – compared with $450 for a Model T Ford car.

Although the fridge’s exact age is unclear, its owner Ian Pasley-Tyler believes it may have been built as far back as 1918, making it 92 years old.

What is certain is that his grandfather, British-born entrepreneur Harold Bryant, shipped it here in 1923 after making his fortune across the Atlantic.

Either way, it is the oldest known working fridge by a long shot.

‘It still does a fantastic job, just as it was designed to do all those years ago, and it has become a piece of our family history,’ said Mr Pasley-Tyler, 70, a retired banker who is a Tory district councillor.

‘It is very noisy and I am sure it uses loads of electricity but it is incredible that it is still working.

‘There is no reason why it should not keep going for many years. It was built in an age when things were made to last.’

Mr Pasley-Tyler, a father of three, realised his fridge could be the oldest working model in Britain after the Daily Mail told of other owners claiming the title.

Last month Doris Stogdale, 89, of Oxford, was still using the 58-year-old General Electric fridge bought when she lived in Malaysia.

She was trumped this week by Don and Carol Ashley, whose 63-year-old English Electric model is still working at their home in Cockshutt, Shropshire.

The 5ft tall fridge owned by Mr Pasley-Tyler and his wife Susie, 67, is believed to be one of the first built by makers Frigidaire.

It stands at their 17th century manor house, Coton Manor, near Gilsborough, Northamptonshire, and is used for drinks and less perishable food like butter.


Cheaper option: A Model T Ford cost $450 in 1918, compared to fridge’s $775.

The fridge was inherited by Mr Bryant’s only child Haroldine, who lived in the house with her husband Henry Pasley-Tyler, and then passed to their son Ian in 1990.

Apart from needing new door hinges three years ago, it has never needed maintenance, he said.

‘It is a comforting sound because it is always there,’ added Mr Pasley-Tyler. ‘It is a treasured heirloom and we have absolutely no reason to chuck it out.’

The two-way refrigerator from General Electric 1952

The Kelninator late 1950s

The Westinghouse frost free refrigerator commercial 1951









Frigidaire 1964 Deluxe model

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Is 55-year-old fridge bulb the oldest in the country?

Article source: MailOnline February 2011

Lightbulb moment: Gordon Russell with his treasured fridge which he believes may contain the oldest lightbulb in Britain…It’s not been changed for 55 years.

This is one man who doesn’t mind getting a chilly reception when he walks into his kitchen. Gordon Russell from Cumbria is pretty pleased with his fridge as it has been cooling his food and drink for 55 years, and he has never had to change the bulb. His parents bought the Frigidaire in 1956, and although he admits there are older fridges around which are still working, Mr Russell, 61, believes his fridge may have the oldest surviving bulb.

“The most amazing thing is I have never had to change the bulb,” he said. “The fridge is used every day and the bulb is still going. I don’t have anything else in the house that is really old but this is still going strong. It’s built to be a lot stronger than modern fridges – which only last around 10 years if you’re lucky.”

Mr Russell, who sells feed to farmers, says the fridge has stored an estimated 50,000 pints of milk so far in its long life. He says he would like to pass the fridge down to his nephews and nieces. “One of my earliest memories of the fridge is getting my hand stuck in it when I was six,” said Mr Russell. “My hand was wet and it froze to the freezer part of it. My hand was in there about 10 minutes before someone poured water over it.”

His family bought the shoulder-height light beige Frigidaire device, with a gold strip along the top, in the 1960s. It has been in constant use since it was delivered to their home at Selside, near Kendal. Mr Russell, who was only six when it arrived, said the Smeg-designed fridge has, over the years, gone out and now come back into fashion.

There are some very old working fridges in Britain, but many may have had new bulbs fitted. Joan Pritchard, from Glan Conwy, North Wales, owns one which is 74 years old, while Doris Stogdale of Oxford has a working fridge that she bought back from Malaysia in 1952. Farmer’s wife Maureen Mace is still using her 80 year old Electrolux appliance which was made in 1931, but perhaps the oldest is that belonging to Ian Pasley-Tyler from Northants, who has been pictured with a 92 year old fridge.


The 1947 fridge that’s still going strong

Article source: MailOnline November 2010

Everlasting: Ivy Ashley with the fridge that she bought in 1947. It’s thought to be the oldest continuously working fridge in the country.

A mere 15 years into its lifetime, Don Ashley thought his old fridge might soon give up the ghost. Not wanting to be caught out, he and his wife Carol spent £10 on an identical second-hand appliance in the early 1960s just in case. But the Ashleys needn’t have worried, for 63 years after the original was bought, the 1947 English Electric model is still going strong .

Bought by Mr Ashley’s parents, George and Ivy, the trusty appliance was built at a time when rationing was still widespread following the war.>/p>

The Ashleys told yesterday how they still use the cream-coloured fridge on a daily basis and, but for a few replacement bulbs for the internal light, it has never needed repairs.

Their back-up, which sits alongside the 63-year-old fridge in an outbuilding, dates from around 1950 and is also still going strong, although it is only used ‘at Christmas and New Year when we have got lots of food to store’, Mr Ashley said.

He came forward with details of his fridge after reading about another model then thought to be the country’s oldest. Last month the Mail reported on a 58-year-old appliance owned by Doris Stogdale, 89, of Oxford. But Mrs Stogdale’s General Electric fridge, which she bought when she lived in what is now Malaysia and shipped home when her family returned to Britain, is a spring chicken in comparison to Mr Ashley’s.

The father-of-two said his 89-year-old mother did not remember how much the couple paid for it. But he said his father, who died 40 years ago at the age of 61, was friendly with a local electrician, who may have helped him choose the model from a local shop in Ellesmere, Shropshire.

Mr Ashley, a retired farmer, who lives with his 67-year-old wife on the same farm as his mother in the nearby village of Cockshutt, said: ‘Dad probably kept the price a secret from my mum because it would have been a lot of money in those days. My father bought it in 1947 and it’s been going every day.

Still going strong: The Mail reported that Doris Stogdale had what was thought to be Britain’s oldest fridge last month. She bought the fridge in Malaysia in 1952 – and it’s still going strong

It may sound like a traction engine but it has kept going and that’s the main thing. The number of hours it has been running for must be incredible.

Mr Ashley said his two fridges proved that ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ and said the family had no intention of swapping them for more modern, energy efficient models.

Meanwhile, a third everlasting appliance emerged in North Wales yesterday. Joan Pritchard’s fridge was fitted into the kitchen wall when her house in Glan Conwy, overlooking Conwy Castle, was built in 1936. It is powered by a free-standing motor outside and is still working well, although it did break down once, 20 years ago, when the fan belt snapped.

50s coffe drinking

Coffee Drinking

Article source: Retrowow

Tea was still Britain’s favourite drink in the 60s and Britons consumed more tea per head than any other nationality. However, tea was going out of favour. More and more people were putting on the kettle to make a cup of instant coffee instead.

Coffee brought a touch of continental sophistication to the UK. In the latter years of the 50s, young people looked to France and Italy for inspiration. They frequented espresso bars as teenagers and developed a taste for coffee.

The generation gap spread to the choice of coffee or tea. Older people still preferred Britain’s traditional cuppa, but by the end of the sixties, young housewives were stocking up with jars of instant coffee from Tesco, Sainsbury or Fine Fare instead.

Ground or instant?

Michael Caine, playing the fictional spy, Harry Palmer, demonstrated the perfect way to make a cup of ground coffee in the title sequence of the ‘Ipcress File’. Take fresh beans, grind them, boil a kettle, add the ground coffee and water to a cafetiere and plunge.

Cafetieres were very chic. Most people either brewed their coffee in a saucepan or used a percolator. Lyons’ was the most popular brand of ground coffee.

Instant coffee had been around since the 30s, but was not a big seller in the UK or the US, with most Americans preferring the taste of ground coffee. A famous study in the early 50s by Mason Haire of the University of California demonstrated the reason why. Two different groups of US housewives were shown two different shopping lists and asked to guess the personality of the shopper.

One group used words, such as ‘lazy’ and ‘poor planner’ and in one case ‘bad wife’ to describe the woman who owned the first list. The other group had no such negative comments. How were the lists different? Only in one item. On the first list was a jar of Nescafé, on the second 1lb of ground coffee. Conclusion, US housewives thought instant coffee was for lazy people.

Opinions in the UK in the early 50s were similar. Advertisers countered this negative perception by stressing the flavour and aroma of instant coffee rather than convenience.

By the end of the sixties one in 25 cups of coffee drunk was instant. In the late 50s the growth of supermarket trading provided anonymity. You didn’t have to ask an assistant for instant coffee, so there was no-one to think you were lazy. By the end of the sixties, instant coffee was re-habilitated. Housewives choosing instant were seen as busy, modern and outgoing. Whilst those preferring traditional coffee were viewed as dull and traditional.

Price may have also had something to do with the switch. A cup of coffee made from Lyons’ ground coffee, the leading brand, cost threepence. One made from instant coffee cost less than a penny


New blends and new processes

By the sixties there were many different blends and brands of instant coffee. For those with adventurous tastes Nescafé Blend 37 provided a quick way to enjoy strong continental style coffee.

By the end of the sixties a new process, freeze drying, was changing the instant coffee market. One of the first freeze dried instant coffees was Nescafé Gold Blend. By the end of the decade these brands of instant coffee were available.

Express Aroma Rich – 4s 4d for 4oz
Lyons – 3s 9d for 4oz
Maxwell House 4s 11d for 4oz
Nescafé 4s 11d for 4oz
Nescafé Gold Blend 6s for 4oz
Nescafé Blend 37 6s 4d for 4oz
Summer Gold (United Dairies) – 4s 3d for 4oz
Kenco Mild Roast 5s 6d for 4oz
Kenco Continental High Roast – 3s 3d for 2oz

Source: Which report, ‘Instant Coffee’ November 1969

Additionally own brand coffees were sold in supermarkets. Waitrose, Mac Fisheries, Pricerite, Safeway, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, the Co-op, Fine Fare, Key Market, Marks and Spencer (St Michael), Woolworth’s (Kingsmere), Littlewoods (Keynote), Mace, VG and Spar all had their own instant coffee brands.

The vast majority of instant coffees were pretty much the same, particularly the own brand versions Some had different flavours. Those closest to real coffee taste were the more expensive ones, for example Kenco Mild Roast, Nescafé Gold Blend and Nescafé Blend 37. Nothing much really changes in the world of instant coffee.

Decaf

By the sixties there were a small number of decaffeinated coffees available. It was a tiny market and few people saw a reason to drink decaf. However by 1969, you could get:

Nestlé Decaf – 3s 11d for 2oz
Café HAG 5s 3d for 4oz
Symington’s Decaffeinated

msn love exploring jacqui agate

How air travel has changed in the last 100 years

30 ways life on board has changed
Since the first commercial flight in 1914, air travel has changed a lot. From steak dinners served in the cabin to bars on board, life in the air looked very different in the past. Here are 30 ways air travel has transformed.

More people are flying than ever before
In the so-called golden age of travel, from the 1950s to the 1980s, taking to the air was an experience reserved for the most privileged in society. Seats were routinely empty, in stark contrast to the modern elbow-to-elbow experience. Now, more than eight million people travel by plane every single day.

The 5-star treatment on board is no more
Economy/coach class didn’t exist before the 1950s and all passengers were treated to a luxury in-flight experience. Meals, complimentary magazines and drinks were provided, and flight attendants would even recline the seats of dozing travelers. Today, if you want this kind of luxury you need to buy your way into the First Class cabin. Here are a few we’d save up for.

Airfares were incredibly expensive
All-out luxury didn’t come cheap but, over the years, plane tickets have become far more affordable. The average cost of a plane ticket has decreased considerably since the 1950s with the introduction of economy class and the rise of budget carriers.

5/31 SLIDES © Labio Studio/Shutterstock
You could smoke on board
Once upon a time, your entire flight would have passed in a haze of smoke. It was perfectly acceptable to smoke cigarettes on planes and cabins were often divided into smoking and non-smoking sections. British Airways began a trial ban on smoking during flights in 1990, with Virgin and United Airlines soon following suit. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that smoking on all flights was banned.

The alcohol was free-flowing
Most airlines offered a near-endless drinks service. Passengers would spend their journey sipping wine, cocktails and champagne throughout the flight. Today it’s a criminal offence to be drunk on an aircraft, punishable with up to two years in prison

Life on board was one big party
It wasn’t uncommon for planes to have bars on board, giving travelers a chance to relax with a drink. Some lounges even had pianos. Now, this luxury is reserved for only the swankiest of aircraft.

You could visit the cockpit
In times gone by, passengers could visit the cockpit and sometimes sit up front for take-off or landing. This policy still differs from airline to airline, but cockpit security was seriously notched up following the attacks of 9/11. Today, for the most part, cockpit doors are firmly closed to the public and even cabin crew

You never went hungry
On most flights, a sit-down dinner was part of the experience. Menus often included extravagant dishes like steak, and it was not uncommon for the meat to carved seat-side. British Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines were just a couple of airlines to offer this personal service.

There’s no more fancy cabin interior design
Pictures on the walls. Vases of fresh flowers. White tablecloths. No expense was spared when it came to decorating plane cabins. The finished result was far from the clinical look today and most touches, like flowers, would now constitute a health and safety hazard.

There were more home comforts
In today’s economy class, most airlines will provide a scratchy blanket and a thin pillow during long-haul flights. But during the 50s and 60s, passengers would receive all manner of complimentary comforts, from plush cushions and blankets to toys for children.

There was plenty of space
Nowadays, you’ll usually be sat elbow to elbow with the person next to you. It wasn’t always like this. Aisles used to be wider, there was more leg room and no overhead storage meant the ceiling felt higher too. In the 1970s, the Boeing 747 (now out of service) even had two decks.

Flights could be up to 12 days long
Today you can reach Australia from the UK in less than 20 hours (and a non-stop flight from London to Perth is arriving in March 2018). It’s a long time to be in the air but a trip to Oz used to take much longer. In 1935, the first Qantas flight from the UK to Australia (known as the Kangaroo Route) lasted 12 days, with multiple stops. Good thing there was that free food and booze to keep passengers entertained…

The whole plane watched a movie together
In 1925, silent movie The Lost World became the one of the first blockbusters to be shown in the air. It involved a whole lot of equipment and passengers had to crane their necks to watch a single screen. In-flight movies weren’t commonplace until the 1960s when Trans World Airlines showed drama Love Possessed.

You could sleep in comfort
Spacious sleeper berths used to be commonplace. United’s historic Mainliner Sleeper planes, which date back to the 1930s, were a vacation in themselves. They offered 6.5-foot-long twin beds and separate changing rooms for men and women to prepare for a good night’s sleep.

You were presented with a postcard after take-off
During the 1950s and 60s, passengers were presented with a postcard once on board. Flying was still a great novelty and the postcards often included a picture of the plane or the food served on board.

There was a dress code
Most of today’s plane passengers dress for comfort – think slouchy jumpers and jeans. But people used to dress to impress – men would sport a suit and tie and women their finest frock. It wasn’t unheard of for passengers to be turned away if they were deemed underdressed.

Turbulence could get pretty bad
Before the 1950s, all commercial planes were powered by pistons and weren’t able to travel at such high an altitude as today’s carriers. It made for a pretty bumpy, noisy and often frightening ride.

Flight safety regulations weren’t as strict
Flight safety today is rigorously enforced by cabin crew but this hasn’t always been the case. Flight attendants’ jobs were more to provide comfort rather than protection. Many things that would be classed as hazardous today (think strewn luggage and children running about) were commonplace before the 1990s.

There used to be “hostesses”
Old adverts for “air hostesses” used to specify that applicants should be women and many included stipulations on height, weight, age and relationship status. The Stewardesses for Women’s Rights group was formed in 1972 to help combat inequality but the gender-neutral term “flight attendant” didn’t come into common use until 1988.

Crashes were more frequent
Today, flying is one of the safest ways to travel but it wasn’t always so reliable. Through the 1950s and 60s, there was an average of four major crashes every year. In contrast, 2017 has been reported as the safest year for air travel to date.

You didn’t have to arrive so early
Most airlines recommend you arrive at least two hours before your flight, allowing enough time for the lengthy security process. It’s difficult to imagine that in the US, prior to the 1970s, passenger screening was barely conducted at all. It wasn’t until after the September 11 attacks in 2001 that safety checks became truly rigorous in the USA and beyond.

Baggage claim was a lengthy affair
After disembarking a plane, modern passengers wait patiently by the conveyor belt, hoping their luggage wasn’t lost in transit. But it wasn’t always such a smooth pick-up. Porters organized all the luggage by hand and travelers would have to request their bags from the pile one after the other, each giving the worker a generous tip.

You could pass through security even if you weren’t traveling
Prior to 2001, many airports allowed non-passengers to move through security so they could see their relatives onto the plane, or meet them before baggage claim upon their return. Nowadays, you’re no longer permitted to wait for incoming passengers beyond security unless there are special circumstances.

You could take on as many bags as you wanted
Before the 1980s, there was no limit on luggage. A lack of overhead storage in the cabin meant they usually went in the hold. Today, hefty baggage fees mean most savvy travellers pack light.

You could take anything on board
A giant shower gel bottle. A craft knife. A bottle of gin. In the past, you could take pretty much anything on board a plane. It wasn’t until 2006 that the regulations surrounding liquids tightened. Today, liquid bottles brought on board must be no more than 100ml.

We’ve moved on from piston to jet planes
A lot has changed since the first commercial flight in 1914 (a domestic jaunt from St Petersburg to Tampa in Florida). One of the biggest shifts in commercial aircraft history was the move from piston to jet engines in the 1950s – also where we get the term ‘jet-setter’. Jet planes were bigger, faster and more economical than their piston-powered predecessors, and would shape the next 50 years of air travel.

We can now travel almost anywhere by air
In the past, commercial air carriers ran a handful of routes. For example, Virgin Atlantic offered just one from London to New York. Now it has more than 30. British Airways has increased its offering by 43% since the 1980s. The world is more connected than ever.

You’ll meet more computers than people at today’s airports
Rewind 50 or 60 years and your airport experience would be very different. There were no automated boards, tickets were written out by hand and you’d be greeted by an actual person at the check-in desk. Today, most people check-in online before they even reach the airport, you may leave your bag at a self-service bag drop, pass through an automated passport control gate and store your ticket on your smartphone.

Today’s in-flight entertainment is all about technology too
In-flight entertainment is a whole different ball game today. Most passengers spend long flights plugged into hi-tech entertainment systems. Movies, games and box sets are at the modern traveller’s fingertips and in-flight wi-fi is becoming increasingly common. Norwegian and Emirates are among the airlines that allow you to connect for free.

Airports are destinations in themselves
The airports of yesteryear had one main purpose: to see travellers safely on board their flights. Today airports are filled with shops and restaurants, and a whole host of other activities like yoga classes and ice skating to combat pre-flight boredom. Here are a few of our favourites. Loved this? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more travel inspiration.

50s – 60s applianceces

Retro Kitchen Appliances

Appliances changed our lifestyles

The kitchen was the centre of domestic activity in the 1950s and small appliances of the era made preparation for family meals and general entertaining easier. Hand and stand mixers were essential to the 50s kitchen, as was the blender the popular item of the 60s. In fact, blenders were so necessary due to the popularity of the 1950s cocktail party that some were built into counters in newer kitchens. Toasters, kettles and coffee percolators were also favourites in 50s and 60s kitchens.

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Consumerism was the popular pastime in the 1950s. People welcomed the futuristic lifestyle by purchasing new kitchen gadgets. Being at home was more enjoyable and less hard work when you had a vacuum cleaner, washing machine and a fridge. The 1950s really was a decade of great changes.

After years of rationing the 1950s was a period of economic prosperity, high employment and great technological development. Many returning servicemen got married, established homes and raised families and the kitchen was no longer just a place to prepare food, it was where the family came together.

However, the 50s are known as the decade of austerity because rationing continued after the war years well into the 50s. It was rationing that actually got the country back on its feet and actually ensured people had sufficient nutrition.

1963 Five Speed Blender Price: $31.50

Description: Like all blenders, this one shreds, grates, pulverizes, chops, grinds, purees, liquifies, blends, and so on. The big difference is that less powerful models take longer to do individual jobs and can’t handle as much food at one time.

Includes forty-four ounce glass jar with add-a-bit lid for adding ingredients while in operation; threaded collar for mason jars; two handles; spring-action cord; and recipe book. Choose from chrome-plated base, white, yellow, pink, or turquoise.

Home appliances came to symbolise the success and modern outlook of their owners and were often displayed in the lounge for visitors to admire, a not so great American and British tradition of always having to keep up with the Joneses.

Towards the end of the 1950s refrigerators and washing machines were well established in the US but were still out of reach in the UK for a few years until the early to mid 1960s. Freezers in U.S. homes saw convenience pre-prepared foods like frozen French fries, and frozen dinners become available and by 1959 Americans were spending $2.7 billion annually on frozen foods.

Passing through the 1960s saw many of the small appliances that had been considered luxuries e.g. kettles and electric mixers, now considered as essential items for the modern kitchen. What lay ahead was electric can openers, coffee makers, hot plates, automatic tea makers, non-stick pans, liquidisers and portable food slicers.

Today the ‘Retro’ style is growing in popularity and making a comeback, and 1950s home appliances are in high demand. Designers are saying that we will not see full blown avocado and turquoise but they will appear as subtle hints in future designs.





The freezer and fridge have a close relationship rather like binary stars or planets except that a freezer can survive without a fridge, as a fridge essentially works off a freezer. Essentially the technology is nothing more than a simple heat exchange along the lines of a heat pump, in the midst of this we place a control system.

The point of refrigeration, well, to keep things fresh and stave the inevitable process of decay in organic matter, as well as of course to make our drinks nice and cold, The fridge/freezer has to keep the temperature inside at a stable level. Temperature stability is paramount as when you want to eat something you are assuming the food has been kept in a safe and bacteria free environment.

Therefore; chilled food like milk, drinks, eggs, fruit and vegetables are kept between 2-5 degrees Celsius. Meats, pates, fish and the like should be slightly colder between minus 1 and 2 degrees Celsius. And frozen food needs to be kept at around minus 18 degrees Celsius. These are ideal temperatures, should the unit fall outside these optimal temperature ranges then the food will degrade faster. Especially with fish and meats when there is created an environment for salmonella, listeria and the growth of other undesirable bacteria.

Domestic fridges and freezers have a compressor to compress gas and pump low pressure cold whilst collecting warmer high pressure gas. It is a sealed system and if it becomes open the gas will escape and the unit will no longer work. It’s controlled by one of two methods:

either by a thermostat with a phial that is filled with a gas; the gas expands and pushes a simple pressure switch that switches off the compressor then, as the unit heats up again the gas contracts, the pressure decreases and the switch is released allowing the compressor to once again run. This is the older way in which units worked and is a very reliable system, requiring only a replacement thermostat in the event of fridge failure.

or, by a PCB controlling run times and monitoring the temperature. This system uses thermistors, which react on temperature change. A fault could be costly in the event of fridge failure but it is the newer way that fridges are built.

So it would seem the older way to make fridges is simpler and arguably more reliable, then why try and fix something that’s not broken? The answer lies in the accuracy of the technology. The thermostatic method is pure mechanical and the temperature varies widely to what the dial may be set to, sometimes by as much as 15 degrees celcius. In the newer system the PCB gathers data from several thermistors and acts depending on the logic programmed into that control board, thereby assuming a highly accurate temperature range.

Unlike switching on a fan heater or electric fire whereby heat is produced, when you switch on a fridge/freezer, it seems that cold is produced. It does so because of two scientific principles. Firstly, when water evaporates it draws heat from its surroundings as it requires energy to maintain this state change and takes it in the form of heat. And secondly, a liquid evaporates at a lower temperature when the pressure is low. Therefore any liquid that evaporates easily at a low temperature is a candidate for a refrigerant. In most refrigerators this is a gas called chlorofluorocarbons (CFC).

Inside the fridge the pipes are wider so the pressure is low and the refrigerant vapourises which keeps the pipes cold and thereby drawing heat from inside the fridge. The compressor is a motor with a compression chamber, the motor sucks up the vapourised cold gas and passes it through the compressor which consequently heats it by compressing the gas (high pressure) and then releases it through pipes at the rear of the unit. The heat dissipates and the gas then condenses back into liquid form, i.e. the coolant, still at high pressure. A pipe with a small bore called a capillary tube then feeds the coolant back into the unit where the pipes are wider and it once again falls under low pressure and vapourises to start the cycle over again.

Ice pits were used by the Incas, Romans and Greeks to keep food fresh. Refrigeration developed in the 19th century with the need to distribute fresh produce over vast distances. One of the first innovators was James Harrison who used his technique on a voyage from Australia to London carrying a cargo of meat on the SS Strathleven in 1880. The two month journey kept the meat fresh.

Domestic fridges were developed in 1879 when German engineer Karl von Linde modified his industrial model to use ammonia as a refrigerant circulated by a steam pump. Electrical pump development came in 1923 with Swedish engineers Balzer von Platen and Carl Munters when they started the ‘Electrolux’ company.

In 1911 General Electric unveiled one of the first home refrigerators and in 1915 the ‘Guardian’ refrigerator was unveiled, the predecessor of the Frigidaire. Other models introduced at this time included the Kelvinator and the Servel being the first refrigerator with any type of automatic control. In 1923 Frigidaire introduced the first self-contained unit.

The 20s and 30s was a time for the introduction of freezer compartments. But mass production didn’t begin until after World War 2. During the 40s frozen food storage took off and by the 50s automatic defrost technology was invented. The 60s gave way a little to the development of a wealth of other home appliances but by 1960 most fridges also had a freezer compartment, most models of the decade had the freezer compartment below the refrigerator,

By 1964 it’s estimated that 94% of Australian homes had a fridge, and in the 70s and 80s emphasis on the fridge/freezer was on fuel efficiency and the elimination of CFCs as the coolant.

How food is preserved

When organic foods ripen we are seeing the first stages of decay, chemical breakdown, shortly following is growth of mould and bacteria. Keeping food at low temperature slows this process. Freezing food slows it even more. Things use heat as a source for energy, therefore at the molecular level, the colder something is the slower it behaves.

A fridge is designed to delay the natural decaying process. A temperature between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius will keep food fresh for up to a week. However low temperatures do not destroy decay organisms it just slows their progress. Likewise chemical breakdown is slowed but not totally abated. Chilled food will spoil eventually. A freezer will preserve food from a month up to a year at a temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius, depending on the type of food and the quality.

How a fridge works.

Warm air inside the refrigerator rises and is cooled as heat is drawn off by the refrigerant in the wide section of pipe

The refrigerant carries away the heat which is dispersed by radiating from the narrower pipes at the rear.


60s Drinks Cabinets





50s microwaves

Microwave ovens in our home

Dr Percy Spencer invented the microwave oven in 1947 with the first commercial microwave oven, the ‘Radarange’, on the market in 1954. These units were large and expensive.


Photograph: Paul Popper/Getty Images

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In 1946 he was working on magnetrons, high powered vaccum tubes, for a company called the Raytheon Corporation as part of his radar research for the US. Whilst himself working around microwaves appeared to do him no harm it appears, as he died of natural causes at 72, he noted that a candy bar in his pocket had melted one time when he was at work

Wanting to move into the domestic field with their microwave oven, Raytheon bought out the Amana Corporation in 1965, an American brand of household appliances, and which also was the company that in 1947 had manufactured the first upright freezer for the home. As soon as 1967 the consumer model of the radarange was released for the home user and by 1971 one per cent of American households owned one, by 1976 it was 4% with 17% for households in Japan in the same year. By the end of the 70s, 20% of American households owned a microwave. The first domestic ovens arrived in the UK in 1974. In the early 1980s saled were booming an all sides of the Atlantic. By 1987, more microwaves were being shipped than refrigerators and by 1993 the figure in the US rose to 80% of households. (source: Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers).



Percy Spencer and His Itch to Know

By Don Murray

The following article appeared on page 114 in the August 1958 Issue of Readers Digest.

How a self-educated Maine farm boy, filled with insatiable curiosity, became one of today’s most respected experts in the complex field of electronics.

PERCY SPENCER is the nosiest man I have ever known. Now 63, he still has an intense, small boy’s compulsion to explore every wonder in the world around him. The results of his relentless curiosity have touched the lives of each of us.

Recently I walked into his office at the Raytheon Manufacturing Co. in Waltham, Mass. – an office befitting the senior vice-president of one of the nation’s largest electronic’ manufacturers. “Hi, Don,” the stocky, shirt-sleeved Down-Easter shouted from behind his desk. “Where’d you get the shoes?”

The moccasin-type shoes weren’t that different, but I knew Percy. Were the shoes comfortable, he asked. Would they wear? Why were they stitched like that? In a minute I had one shoe off, so that he could examine it. He wanted to know just how it was made.

The story is typical of Percy Spencer’s direct, homey approach, which he brings even to the miracle world of modern electronics. One day a dozen years ago he was visiting a lab where magnetrons, the power tubes of radar sets, were being tested. Suddenly, he felt a peanut bar start to cook in his pocket. Other scientists had noticed this phenomenon, but Spencer itched to know more about it.

He sent a boy out for a package of popcorn. When he held it near a magnetron, popcorn exploded all over the lab. Next morning he brought in a kettle, cut a hole in the side and put an uncooked egg (in its shell) into the pot. Then he moved a magnetron against the hole and turned on the juice. A skeptical engineer peeked over the top of the pot just in time to catch a faceful of cooked egg. The reason? The yolk cooked faster than the outside, causing the egg to burst.

Spencer had discovered that you could cook with high-frequency radio waves. He got a patent on the “radar range,” one of the 225 he holds. The new device will cook a sirloin steak in one minute, a plump Thanksgiving turkey in little more than half an hour. Used for some time in restaurants, Pullman diners and ocean liners, radar ranges are now being produced for the home.

This constant curiosity helped Percy Spencer turn an underprivileged childhood into an especially privileged one. Born in Howland, Maine, a remote rural community, he was twice orphaned when a child. His father died when he was 18 months old, and soon his mother left home, turning Percy over to an aunt and uncle. The uncle was like a father to him, but when Percy was only seven, this second father died.

Percy didn’t waste time feeling sorry for himself. He was too busy learning a country boy’s chores – how to chop wood, hoe, saddle a horse, help with the preserving, skin a deer, saw a straight line and improvise solutions to the problems of survival, a skill famous as “Yankee ingenuity.”

When he was 12 he trudged off to the spool mill in the cold, gray Maine dawn and worked till after sundown. Four years later his curiosity led him into something new. The local paper mill was to be electrified. Although he had no formal knowledge of electricity (in 1910 few people knew much about it), Percy signed on as one of three men to install the system. Learning entirely by trial and error, he emerged a competent electrician.

When, in 1912, the Titanic sank, the heroism of the wireless operators sparked the boy’s imagination. He joined the Navy to learn wireless telegraphy. He did not mention his limited education when. The Navy sent him to its radio school. “I just got hold of a lot of textbooks and taught myself while I was standing watch at night,” he explains.

He has kept up this practice of self-education all his life-“solving my own situation,” he calls it. There is no count of the hundreds of nights he has spent painfully working out problems in trigonometry, calculus, chemistry, physics, metallurgy and other areas of learning.

Discharged from the Navy, he went to work for the Wireless Specialty Apparatus Co., of Boston. Spencer’s insatiable curiosity is still remembered by his co-workers. In those days the whole shop would often keep going until midnight to finish an order. After the others had left, Percy would stay behind to test and examine the day’s production. “Many’s the time the gang would come back in the morning and find Percy still there,” one of his friends recalls. “He had stayed up all night just to find out how things worked.”

He learned so well that he became a wireless-equipment production boss in World War 1, and was sent out on trouble-shooting missions by the Navy when he was barely old enough to vote. Then, during the late ’20’s and ’30’s, he worked with the growing Raytheon company. His experiments brought him into contact with many of the best physicists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of them told me, “Spencer became one of the best tube designers in the world; he could make a working tube out of a sardine can.

In 1929 Spencer was experimenting on photoelectric vacuum tubes when one developed a small leak. Many another scientist had arrived at same spot – and discarded the tube. Spencer didn’t. Curious to know the consequences of the leak, he soon discovered that the tube’s photoelectric quality had increased ten times. This was a major step in the development of the modern TV camera tube.

When the Nazis marched into Poland in 1939, Percy Spencer became a man possessed. For the next seven years he worked every day, including Sundays and holidays. His power-tube division at Raytheon expanded from 15 employees to more than 5000 when the war ended. In addition to training huge groups of men and women, he rode herd on the construction of new buildings, argued for priorities on materials, fought for the latest equipment.

Largely because of his legendary skill and ingenuity, Spencer won for Raytheon the contract to produce working models of combat radar equipment for M.I.T.’s Radiation Laboratory, which had mobilized scientists from all over the nation to work on the project. Next to the Manhattan Project, it had the highest World War 11 military priority.

While the Battle of Britain was raging, the United States had received a model of a microwave (high frequency) magnetron from the British. Potentially, this was a weapon of incredible effectiveness, for the magnetron is the power tube, which is the heart of a radar set. The problem was how to mass-produce it. The vital tube had to be machined out of solid copper with tolerances of less than ten thousands of an inch. It took a master machinist a week to finish just one – and thousands were needed to help the RAF against the Luftwaffe.

Spencer sweated night and day, driving himself and his workers, to speed up production. When his first “maggies” were flown to England, the RAF kill rate shot up. When we entered the war, 15 of Spencer’s radar sets, – sensitive enough to spot German U-boat periscopes, were installed in U.S. bombers. They proved amazingly effective.

By this time Spencer had heckled and badgered production up to 100 a day. He was still unsatisfied. On each trip through his plant he tried to figure ways to speed things up. At last, he sweated out a solution.

Instead of carving the magnetron out of solid metal, Spencer, using a machine any semi-skilled worker could operate, stamped thin cross-sections of the tube out of copper and silver-solder. These were then piled alternately, one atop the other, and cooked into, a single piece on an ingenious conveyer-belt oven he designed. As a result of the new method, production of magnetrons jumped to an astounding 2600 a day.

Next, Spencer invented a process which greatly increased the magnetron’s efficiency, and designed several major refinements which made radar sets far more effective in combat. For his work he won the highest honor, the Navy can give civilians: the Distinguished Public Service Award.

Talking about this feat, an M.I.T. scientist explained to me how Spencer operates: “The educated scientist knows many things won’t work. Percy doesn’t know what can’t be done. Like Edison, he will cut and fit and try and throwaway and try again.”

Since the war Spencer has kept up his incessant rounds of the plant, poking his nose into everybody’s business, cutting and fitting and throwing away. He has continued to improve his magnetrons, has in- vented microwave diathermy equipment with the cooperation of the Mayo Clinic. He has kept his power-tube division of Raytheon in the black throughout postwar economic gyrations. Every morning he gets to the plant before the night shift knocks off at 7 a.m. He listens intently to any night-shift workers who come to his office. “I let my people know I care,” he explains. “When you work nights you think nobody cares what you do. I know; I used to be there.”

Spencer takes an almost aggressive interest in the people who work for him. On one of his plant inspection trips he noticed that a new employee wore a hat all the time, in doors and out. When Spencer found out the man was bald, he said, “Come with me.” At the office of Raytheon president Charles Francis Adams, he flung open the door on the startled Adams, who is as bald as his great-great-grandfather, the second President of the United States, and his great- grandfather, the sixth U. S. President. “See,” Spencer bellowed, “he isn’t ashamed of not having hair!”

Dr. Vannevar Bush, who has known Percy since he was a young man, after chuckling over several Spencer stories, warned me not to underestimate the homespun Down- Easter. “He has the respect of every physicist in the country, not only for his ingenuity but for what he has learned about physics by absorbing it through his skin. He is not merely a good experimenter and a good designer; he has become, in his own right, one of the recognized individuals in a very difficult field.”

Spencer’s genius has received formal recognition as well. He is now a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Institute of Radio Engineers and holder of an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts. Such honors have a special meaning in today’s complex scientific world. For Percy Spencer, the orphan who never went beyond grammar school, has amply demonstrated that nothing is beyond the grasp of a man who wants to know what is going on, and who feels a sense of responsibility for doing something about it.


What are microwaves

Microwaves are short high frequency waves, the shortest radio waves at 0.1mm with a frequency of 3 x 10(9). Basically extremely high frequency radio waves. They are a type of electromagnetic radiation. In a microwave they are made by a device called a magnetron.

Microwaves are in the non-ionising portion of the spectrum (used in communications, and cooking,) which means they do not detach charged particles and produce atoms with un-balanced charges. This is why they can heat food without making it radioactive.

Microwave radiation is not the same as radioactive radiation. Non-ionizing radiation is very different from Ionizing radiation; the latter form uses extraordinarily high frequency and is therefore extremely powerful easily damaging body cells and causing genetic mutations; whilst non-ionizing radiation is much less powerful and therefore less damaging. At 2450 MHz it simply causes molecules to vibrate

The microwaves penetrate the food an excite water molecules evenly throughout the food. The water molecules absorb the radio waves which makes the molecules vibrate which causes friction between neighbouring molecules resulting in heat generation.

So microwaves by themselves do not cook food, they excite the fluids in food and in turn the molecules give off enough friction heat to cook themselves.

In a nutshell when the power is applied the potential energy is converted to electrical energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation which causes kinetic energy that vibrates the water molecules resulting in friction and the production of heat energy.

It wasn’t until microwave ovens became extremely popular in the 1970s that they were commonly known as “microwave ovens”. Before that, they were typically known as “electronic ovens”

Credit: Luke Farrar


Britain’s oldest microwave still going strong after 40 years

By Daily Mail reporter
24 January 2009
article source: MailOnline


They are part and parcel of most kitchens now. But in the Swinging Sixties, microwave ovens were cutting-edge technology. Frederick Stephens was among the first in Britain to buy one and 150,000 meals later, it is still going strong.

The 78-year-old believes it is the country’s oldest still in everyday use. He paid £230 – equivalent to more than £3,000 in today’s money – for the brown Panasonic NE-691 and has used it every day in the four decades since. There were so few microwaves on the market, that Mr Stephens and his late wife Francis needed a demonstration on how to use it. ‘I’m so surprised it has lasted this long,’ he said. ‘It was a real novelty when we bought it as there weren’t many around in those days. At the time, it was life-changing and since then it’s become one of those everyday things you wonder now how you could ever live without.’

The oven survived the couple’s two children and has only broken down once when a lightbulb needed replacing. Mr Stephens, a grandfather of four from Cheltenham, added: ‘I use it all the time to heat up ready meals and to do my Horlicks before I go to bed every night. It’s marvellous really.’ Mr Stephens bought the oven from an electrical shop in Gloucester in the mid or late Sixties – and it has outlasted the store, which has since closed. He said: ‘It’s a slice of history and is amazing to think how long it’s lasted.

‘At the time of buying it, there were so few around we had to have a demonstration in the shop on how to use it and it was like looking at the future. We must have eaten thousands of meals over the years which have been heated in it. ‘Francis used to cook the Christmas puddings in it and would make food in it for the kids. Even the shop which sold it has gone now, but the microwave is still going strong. We’ve definitely had our money’s worth.’

Since being widowed in 2005, he said the microwave has been a great help heating up his meals and nightly hot milks. ‘It’s never had to have any sort of maintenance and the only thing that’s ever gone is the lightbulb for the door,’ added Mr Stephens. The world’s first microwave oven was built in America in 1947 by technology firm Raytheon, which filed the first patent after employee Percy Spencer made the breakthrough. Dr Spencer, a self-taught engineer, was testing a new vacuum tube during radar- related research when he noticed the chocolate bar in his pocket melted.

By late 1946, the company filed a patent proposing that microwaves be used to cook food. The first one produced weighed 340kg, stood 6ft tall and cost $5,000 (£3,664). But years of work were needed to make the invention affordable and small enough for kitchens. Between 1952 and 1955, the first home model was introduced by Tappan at $1295 (£951), and by 1967 Raytheon released the first counter-top, domestic oven.

The 100-volt microwave oven cost just under $500 (£366) and was smaller, safer and more reliable than previous models. After a slow response to the large cumbersome models, the smaller models became more accepted, particularly in certain industries. The microwave oven allowed restaurants and vending companies to keep products refrigerator-fresh up to the point of service and then heat them to order. They could serve fresher food, with less waste and costing less money. By 1975, microwave sales had taken over those of gas ranges.


b. 1894 – d. 1970
Maine, US

Percy LaBaron Spencer did not stand out at school intellectually but was to become a great inventor. He worked at Raytheon until he died at 76 at which time he held 150 patents.

He was considered one of the world’s leading experts in the field of microwave energy and on the 18th of September 1999 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame alongside other inventors such as Thomas Edison.

Today, 30 million microwave ovens are sold every year.

Microwave Technolodies Association (UK) This site has everything technical about microwave ovens including recipes.

The microwave warning page This is about the dangers of microwave ovens and the page contains two articles.

The mind unleashed website Health facts about using microwave ovens.


By the time microwaves came to the UK they rapidly became multi-functional, including an oven together with a microwave meant you could, defrost, and cook a meal solely with the oven, no need for any other appliance; these combination-ovens, as they were known, even had a grill.

The need for combining the whole cooking process into one small box came about from a mixture of things, small kitchens, the natural next step in the evolution of cooking appliances and the futuristic lifestyle portrayed through the 1960s and 70s, look at the replicator from Start Trek, capable of creating any meal from nothing.

This kitchen vision to progress technology in the kitchen was experimental, and at first it was possible to cook the Sunday roast in half the time, because the oven, grill and microwave could be used at the same time. This addressed the issue microwaves have lacking the ability to brown food. Nowadays, microwaves have humbly resigned their place to re-heating meals as opposed to cooking meals and have survived their place in the kitchen.

Saying that, sales have been slowly falling year on year for the last 40 years. Today 90% of American households have a microwave yet microwave shipments have fallen another 5%, according to data from market research firm Mintel. In comparison, sales of other kitchen appliances rose by nearly 8%. One theory is todays eating habits, which favour more fresh produce and oven cooked recipes as opposed to processed ready meals.

The source at Mintel states “Microwaves have sort of had their day,” says John Owen, a senior industry analyst. Well that’s the sort of thing an analyst would say when looking at the statistics. However, be reminded that microwaves are not just going to walk out of the kitchen or be pushed out. It just so happens, that mid way through 2015 I am renovating the kitchen and have no facilities other than a sink and hot water, and the microwave has become heaven sent. It has it’s place, and we take it for granted until we absolutely need it.

Last Word:

In 2003, a Spanish governmental study demonstrated that vegetables and fruit cooked in a microwave lost97% of the substances that contribute to reducing the incidence of coronary heart diseases.