Happy Birthday Refrigerator

We thought our refrigerator was getting old. It was humming, sweating and not cooling enough. One day my husband reached under and realized the filter hadn’t been cleaned perhaps…..ever! Once the thick collection of fuzzies was removed, our old fridge was vindicated and fine. It just needed some love and attention, and cleaning.

Thank you dear refrigerator for holding vegetables to be cooked, various condiments to lather over salads and fries, drinks of all sizes and flavors to soothe thristy kids, and oh so precious left-overs. Because of you, I dont have to go to the grocery store everyday, because of you I have a ready supply of frozen vegetables and ice-cream, because of you I just had a blueberry smoothie blended with orange juice and yoghurt. It was refreshing.

Although you are wonderful, you are not blameless. Sometimes, things sit and rot in the bins, sometimes left-overs are forgotten, sometimes sour smells waft.

My stainless steal double door refriegerator owes much to Raymond Loewy’s 1934 Sear Coldspot Super Six that introduced the clean deco beauty of modern kitchens. That historic moment of profit by aesthetics fueled the new profession of industrial design. Kitchens became the domestic locus of modernity and replaced the hearth as the center of a home. After all, when my kids come home, we find them infront of the refrigerator, not the fireplace or stove.

Happy Birthday, Refrigerators!

Thank you Writer’s Almanac for the reminder:

The first refrigerator was patented in the United States on this date in 1899. The practice of preserving food by keeping it cold had been around for hundreds of years. At first, this meant burying it deep in the ground, or submerging it in cold streams. In 18th-century England, people collected sheets of ice in the winter and put it in specially constructed underground ice houses, where it was salted and wrapped in flannel to preserve it until the summer. That led to the development of the slightly more portable icebox: a wooden box lined with tin and insulated with cork or sawdust. A Scot named William Cullen publicly demonstrated the first artificial cooling system in 1755, but he didn’t put his invention to any practical use.

Modern artificial cooling systems work by compressing gas into a liquid state, and then allowing it to evaporate into a gas again, in a small space. This process removes heat from the surrounding area, and its discovery paved the way for the development of more advanced artificial cooling machines in the early 1800s. At first they were used in a hospital setting, to cool the air for yellow fever patients. But these early refrigeration machines used toxic gases, which created serious problems if the compression system developed a leak.

None of these early attempts — successful though they may have been — were granted a patent in the United States. It was the work of Albert T. Marshall that was finally deemed worthy, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued the first American refrigerator patent on this date in 1899. In 1918, the Frigidaire Company was founded to manufacture home refrigerators. The market grew in the 1920s and ’30s with the development of Freon, which was a safe alternative to toxic gases; by the end of World War II, no modern kitchen was without one. It wasn’t just a convenience for housewives. Artificial refrigeration revolutionized the way food was produced, and refrigerated rail cars made it possible to transport perishable foods over great distances.

Here’s a food poem Deep in Our Refrigerator


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