Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A Look at the History of the Standing Kitchen Mixer

Today's world is full of gadgets no bigger than your palm that can access the internet and play thousands of songs; you can take pictures on the same device and can also call anywhere in the world. In today's modern world, it's hard to imagine that the standing kitchen mixer was once considered cutting edge.

The first known patent for an electric mixer, as stated in the book by Dennis Thompson titled "Antique Electric Mixers", was awarded to Rufus W. Eastman in 1885. The machine was unique because it could be powered by either water or electricity. Herbert Johnston, an engineer, looked at a baker stirring bread dough with an iron spoon in 1908. This is how Johnston came up with the idea for the commercial standing mixer. By 1914, 80-quart commercial mixers were available and were quickly seen as a major labor saving device. The brand name was born when an executive's wife was testing the home version and she declared it to be the best kitchen aid she had ever had. Ever since then, KitchenAid mixers have been the gold standard in home mixers. Confirming KitchenAid's advertisement, which declared that its mixer with attachments could “do it all!”, today's attachments can create pasta, make sausage, crumble food, squeeze citrus, and even produce ice cream.

Between 1928 and 1929, the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company/Sunbeam division patented its version of the standing mixer with two beaters that could be removed. In 1930 the MixMaster was mass produced at a fraction of what a KitchenAid cost. The MixMaster was so popular that the brand ended up being a symbol for any kind of standing mixer, similar to Kleenex being known for any kind of tissues, or adhesive bandages being known as a Band-Aid.

I recollect that my mom had a well made Sunbean MixMaster with an ivory motor cover, a black stand, and a glass bowl with a green color tint. We took pleasure in licking the cake batter off the beaters when the mixing was over, not knowing that the uncooked eggs in the batter were dangerous. A tribute to its longevity is that this is the only mixer I remember my mom using. She also had attachments for it, like a juicer and a food grinder.

After I left home, I had mixers that were all small and hand held, that could mix up a cake mix pretty well with homemade frosting, and occasionally mashed potatoes, but not much else. When my husband and I married he brought with him a Sunbeam MixMaster that was old and was almost just like the one my mom had. His was given to him by his mother.

My mother-in-law's old Sunbeam MixMaster served me well for years. At last, for one of my special birthdays, I requested a beautiful cobalt blue KitchenAid standing mixer with some elaborate accessories. I know that my mixer will be around for years to come, and someday I too will pass it down to someone I love.

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