FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

New Materials, New Tools (page 1)

Using materials developed before and during World War II, manufacturers created a variety of new equipment and appliances for postwar cooks.  Plastics, nonstick coatings, and pyroceramic glass were among the most successful.  Tupperware, Teflon, and CorningWare housewares took their place in many American kitchens next to old reliable glass jars and cast-iron and aluminum skillets. Brand-new electrical gadgets consumed ever greater amounts of counter space.

Ad, 1957

Ad, 1957

Electric companies sponsored a national campaign to promote sales of electrical appliances—and electricity.  They encouraged housewives to equate the number of appliances they owned with their level of happiness.

Handlebars in the Kitchen

Industrial designers at the OXO company created a line of kitchen tools that could be easily used by everyone, including people with disabilities. The first Good Grips implements, introduced in 1990, featured contoured rubber handles modeled after the grips on bicycle handlebars.

Good Grips tools, about 1995

These tools were purchased by an avid cook after she started feeling the effects of arthritis. Gift of Elsa Edwards. (See related objects.)

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Cooks while the Cook’s Away

Patented in 1975, the slow-cooking, electric Crock-Pot with a removable insert allowed busy home cooks to start dinner before they left for work, and return home to a fully cooked meal.

Rival Crock-Pot, about 1975

Robert and Shirley Hunter of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, used this slow-cooker for making stews, sauerkraut with kielbasa, and halushki, a cabbage-and-noodle hot dish. Robert was the primary Crock-Pot cook. Gift of Robert and Shirley Hunter.

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Crock-Pot cookbook

Crock-Pot cookbook

From the Lab to the Kitchen

The DuPont Company received a patent for Teflon in 1941, but nonstick pans did not appear in the United States until 1960. The special coating made cooking surfaces easy to clean, a welcome timesaver.

Teflon-coated pan, about 1964

Bakeware pioneer Nordic Ware was one of the first companies to apply Teflon to its products, including its signature Bundt cake pan. Gift of Nordic Ware.

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Teflon ad, about 1974

Teflon ad, about 1974

NMAH Archives Center AC0059-0000210