Friday, 17 January 2014

Vintage Kitchens: A Snapshot of the 50's

The 1950s was an iconic era in American culture. Referred to as the "fabulous fifties", it was a time when American soldiers were returning from military service overseas, and the baby boom had begun. As servicemen began to establish new jobs and lives, the demand for housing and household accessories grew exponentially. Industry expanded like never before, and many of the inventions and new products became entrenched into the American way of life. To this day, kitchen utensils and even recipes from this era are still in use, and America has recently experienced a type of renaissance, with kitchen appliances using new technology while maintaining the fifties-style appearance. In this article we will look back at some of these venerable tools and recipes, and why they're still relevant today.

Modern Mixers
In 1952, Sunbeam introduced the first hand-held mixer. This evolutionized the way housewives did their cooking and baking. The original stand mixer, on the other hand, was first invented in 1919, and developed by Hobart into something relatively similar to what we see today. In 1954 it was redesigned and was now available in a range of colours: yellow, green, blue, and ultra-chic avocado green. The name "Kitchen Aid" came about when the wife of a Hobart executive remarked, after using the mixer, "This is the best kitchen aid I have ever used!" 

The Instant Food Era
Upon the return of overseas servicemen, a great many of the rations and staples used in wartime were implemented into everyday use: canned meats, such as Spam, canned condensed soup, and canned fish were hugely popular and contributed greatly to the emergence of casseroles, such as tuna and green beans, or salmon and potato chips. Frozen vegetables, orange juice, and dehydrated foods such as cake mix and instant potatoes played a big role in daily family meals.


"Modern Kitchen Miracles"

In April 1957, the Washington Post published an article claiming that, thanks to canned and frozen food, and modern kitchen equipment, " the American housewife's cooking time is so drastically reduced that 21 million women are now holding down jobs outside the home, and are still able to prepare home-cooked meals." Also emerging in the 1950s was the frost-free refrigerator, the electric coffee percolator, and a washing machine with a built-in wringer.

The 1950's Pantry
Good Housekeeping magazine was a major source of cooking and recipe ideas, and in August of 1950, it recommended and advertised a wide range of products to keep in the home pantry: Campbell's soup, Ritz crackers, Duncan Hines cake mix, Kellogg's cereal, Jello pudding, Tang, and Cheez Whiz, just to name a few. Frozen foods were coming into their own, too, including frozen pizza, fish sticks, and, of course, TV dinners. With many women working outside the home, eating in front of the television became common.

The Cocktail Party

The fifties were all about the cocktail party. With all the prepared foods and gadgets available to them, housewives could come home from work, and whip up all manner of glamorous appetizers and elaborate cocktails. Celery stuffed with cheese, shrimp cocktail and devilled eggs were popular cold items, while bacon-wrapped pineapple, hot shrimp puffs and broiled stuffed mushrooms were usually on the menu. Drinks were elaborate concoctions; some sweet and fruity, such as the Singapore Sling and Mai Tai. Also favoured, particularly among men, were classics such as the Martini, Tom Collins and the Sidecar.

The fifties revolutionized family life in America, and most of the inventions of the day are still used now: the Kitchen Aid mixer, frozen foods, and canned goods are still staples in most of the modern kitchens, not only in the United States, but all over the world.

(All images have been sourced from here)

* This is a sponsored post. 

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