Object Project Videos

Refrigerators = Happiness

In the 1930s, Americans began to think differently about what they ate and how they spent their time. Increasingly, they gave up their unreliable iceboxes for newly affordable electric refrigerators. 

 

As depicted in the 1933 movie “Double Harness,” electric refrigerators were a point of pride and status for a brief time—until the majority of Americans owned one.

 

With the advent of electric refrigerators, leftovers could be kept longer at more consistent temperatures—meaning they'd be more reliably safe, too.

 

The first refrigerator to become widely popular in American homes, the General Electric Monitor top refrigerator, was introduced in 1927.

 

 

Time-saving, cost effectiveness, variety, and ability to keep food for a length of time helped make frozen food a mainstay in grocery stores.

 

By the 1960s, Americans were buying ever-larger refrigerator models with spacious freezers.

 

Ready-to-Wear Clothes = Opportunity

By the 1890s, both men and women were able to buy off-the-rack clothing in department stores and mail-order catalogs that was mass-produced in the same styles at different price levels.

 

Mass production was key to affordable ready-to-wear clothing. Multiple copies of each piece of a garment were cut to patterns from stacks of fabric.

 

By the 1920s, sales of ready-to-wear clothing had reached unprecedented levels—spurred by rising incomes, easy credit, and the increasing social acceptability of spending money on consumer goods. Here, Charlie Chaplin causes chaos in a department store in the 1916 movie “The Floorwalker.”