Did you know that in 1846 cans were first invented? How ironic is it that it took 12 years for someone to invent the can opener? What did they do with the cans for twelve years; sit and look at the shiny metal lining their shelves; wondering what the contents tasted like? Of course, by 1858, someone had managed to invent the Rotary washing machine. This invention provided the young homemaker with other things to do than stare at cans.
How many of you, when you were kids, remember chewing Blackjack gum? Remember your parents looking screaming in horror, thinking you had swallowed black paint? (Maybe it was just mine who did this; they were a little over dramatic back then.) Well, in 1872, the year Blackjack gum was invented, kids everywhere shoved it into their mouths by the bucket full. Who knew it was so old? So millions of kids (with black gums) chewed Blackjack on the way to the woodpile, because it wasn’t until 1896 that the first electric stove was developed. This leads me to my next revelation.
Before 1896, it was little Johnny’s duty to stoke Moms cooking fire. If he was good, his treat was more Blackjack gum. Only the rich could afford coal, so wood had to do until the something better came along. In 1896 “better” came in the form of magic. The first electric stove graced the family’s kitchen. Homemakers everywhere were happily cooking away on this newfangled contraption up until 1921, when along comes Mr. Henry Ford – a man who couldn’t stand to waste anything. You remember Henry; he invented the Ford Model T and Assembly Line Manufacturing, but in 1921 after the electric stove had already been in full use and loved my millions of Moms, good Ol’ Henry brought to us the now-familiar charcoal briquette. Up until then, no one knew they wanted to go back to wood, but Ford got the idea from the scrap lumber left over from building his model T’s. He had all this scrap, that he could turn into smaller scrap by heating the snot out of it, and that the resulting (now black – semi burnt – scrap) got very hot and lasted a long time when burned in a stove. Being the salesperson he was, he sold the public on using his newly coined “charcoal” for cooking. Low and behold 1921 saw the birth of the “Grill Meister.”
Later that same year the first homogenized gallon of milk showed up on the steps of many a home. A man in a white coat and white hat, who jumped out of a milk wagon pulled by an old tired horse, delivered the new homogenized milk. If, in the summer, you didn’t get the milk off the stoop first thing in the morning, you had homogenized sour milk. You drank it anyway. It was also in 1927 that Kool-Aid was invented. It had real sugar in it. Kids preferred Kool-Aid to the sour milk. I
think this was the year they also coined the medical term “hyperactive.”
By 1930, a man named F.J. Osius had an idea for a mixer that could chew through anything. He also had no money. He went to the famous bandleader – Fred Waring for help. (They probably got drunk mixing the first margarita.) Waring ended up lending Osius the funds provided that he (Waring) could put his name on the product. The pair finalized the deal and then Waring took off, traveling around the country with his band plus a large trunk that opened up into (of all things) a bar. He would play, blend and demonstrate the mixer, then play some more.
Now for the last one. Do you know why metal lunch boxes are so collectible? Because in the early 70’s a group of Florida mothers, fearing for the heads of their children, launched a nationwide campaign against allowing metal lunch boxes in school. Apparently, they became very good weapons during schoolyard fights. Little Johnny was getting his bell rung with a metal lunchbox. Apparently, plastic lunch boxes only rang his bell a little.
You can find these tidbits of history and a ton of other information at a remarkable site called Food and Utensil Chronology at https://sites.google.com/site/coquesters/foodandutensilchronology. Check this site out. It’s great for vintage collectors who want to know the year a particular item they are coveting was born. It’s also a great spot for someone who’s been laundering a new batch of vintage linens all week after work, who needed a break and who says to her writer husband, “Please write the blog for this week.”