The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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Nostalgia From The Kitchen

on July 10, 2012

This morning I discovered that our toaster is beginning to die.  It will only toast one side at a time.  That wouldn’t bother me so much because, though not efficient,  it is easy to flip the bread around and toast the other side. No my alarm came from the distinctive electrocution going on inside somewhere.  You know the sound: zzzzzt! That’s usually a sign that it is time to up your home insurance or buy a new appliance. Well that’s what it means to most people.  Every time I hear that sound from a kitchen appliance I smile. No I’m not a pyro nor am I that desperate to buy new things.  I smile because I remember one of the COOLEST appliances ever:  “The Hot Dogger”

My kids never believe me when I tell them about this cool invention of the 70’s so I decided to go find a picture. Here is The Hot Dogger.  In the days when microwaves were the size of your regular oven and considered an investment rather than a common appliance The Hot Dogger was a great way to make hot dogs quickly. See those metal spikes? You just stuck your hot dogs on those, put the cover on and plugged the appliance in. ZZZZT! Electrocuted hot dogs in a minute.  I can’t imagine why this handy little gadget didn’t become a household giant but I have a feeling it may have had something to do with metal spikes and electricity.  If you are interested in electrocuting your wieners (wait….that doesn’t sound quite right) you can find one of these little gems on eBay.  Really.

All this nostalgia got me to thinking about some other favorite appliances from my childhood. Here are a few oldies but goodies that I remember with fondness:

The Air Popper.  This was so much easier than heating up that oil in a pan on the stove or in the “old” popcorn poppers.  It was so much healthier too.  Of course the popcorn tasted like styrofoam so you had to smother it with butter, but still….healthier.  Really.  The other fun feature of this appliance was that it shot piping old maids across the room once most of the popcorn was done popping.  Great fun if you are mad at a sibling.  My husband and I actually received an air popper from someone as a wedding gift.  I wasn’t aware they even made them any more.  I figured they had died with the invention of microwave popcorn.  I’m pretty sure I sold it on our first garage sale.  Unfortunate. We’re moving soon and I really could have used the packing peanuts.

The Hot Pot.  Again a handy little appliance before zapping water in the microwave was common place.  In this little gem you could steam food or boil water without turning on your stove top. No college dorm room was complete without one.  I had a lovely cream colored one myself.   Again before the days that microwaves were allowed in college dorm rooms  Mostly because they didn’t want to replace all of those fuses.  We had access to a microwave down the hall, but if you wanted to whip up something in your room you needed one of these.  I loved mine until I dumped it’s boiling contents over my hand while trying to unplug it.  Now the sight of one makes me shudder a little.

The donut maker.  Only super cool people had one of these.  I think one of my aunts did.  Notice that you can only make two donuts at a time.  Not a problem if you didn’t mind getting up at 5am to make donuts for your four children before you sent them to school, but for most people this was a weekend treat sort of thing.  Right.  Because I want to spend all of Saturday morning in my kitchen.  We didn’t have one of these when I was growing up but I remember seeing commercials for them and thinking they were cool.  Don’t feel sorry for me.  My mom still makes killer pancakes. 

The percolator.  Now I know you can still buy these, but I am talking about the old school really cool electric percolators.  My grandparents had one of these on the counter. Plugged in all day in case grandpa needed a coffee break.  All day.  I wasn’t a coffee drinker then so I never tasted it but I’m guessing that by the evening the liquid in the percolator resembled something close to mud.  The often recycle-perked coffee sure made their house smell good though.  Perhaps that is why I love the smell of coffee.  Or it might be my addiction to it.  If they ever invent a percolator that turns on and has the coffee ready when I wake up I might consider buying one just for nostalgia sake.

The crock pot.  Yes I know that this is still a common every day appliance but I remember when these first came out.  They revolutionized dinner for working mothers and their families.  Mostly because they all came with a book of revolting recipes.  Because they were new and no one knew that you could cook other things in it we all got to sample revolting new dishes.  But they were cool because you could cook without the oven.  and they were ORANGE! Did I mention they were also all one piece?  No lift out crock.  Nope. You have to turn it on its side and try to scrub the gunk out of it without immersing the cord.  Yep. Revolutionary.  Now.

 Before George Foreman was a household name this is what an indoor electric grill looked like.  I have fond memories of grilled meat during the Nebraska winters thanks to a little beauty just like this one.  I also have memories of stuff hitting that electric coil a popping back at you.  And did I mention that little pan under the grill.  Better hope you didn’t have dish duty on the night this was used. Yuck.  Oh.  And it was a good idea to check the wall and ceiling for food splatter when you got done.  Now that I think about it is no wonder the former boxer has become a ba-zillionaire selling his new grills.

I couldn’t talk about all these appliances without giving a shout out to my Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven.  Again I know that mine wasn’t the first generation to cook with a light bulb nor was it the last.  You can still purchase these wonders of technology.  My daughter had one too.  But it wasn’t as cool as mine because mine looked like this:

70’s orange with fake shelves. Really hot metal pans. Come on! Too cool!  I would also like to pause a moment to thank my mother for NEVER sticking those little doingy looking bangs (I think they are bangs) to my cheeks. Thanks Mom!

Feel free to share your favorite nostalgic kitchen appliance.  I’d love to hear about them.


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