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National Rice Cooker & Steamer

National Rice Cooker & Steamer

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Description
This rice cooker was used for 35 years by a Smithsonian curator, an avid cook, whose father and his Chinese wife brought the cooker to her from Singapore in the early 1970’s. In the United States, such cookers came to be introduced in the mid-1970’s, and were quickly adopted by older rice-centric communities in South Carolina and Louisiana and by newer countercultural Americans who were increasingly interested in alternate cuisines and culinary practices. Increased interest in Asian foods, accompanied by interest in alternative foods and health practice, brought both new cooking tools and methods to American cooks interested in food that went beyond their conventional boundaries.
Electric rice cookers were developed in Japan after World War I, and by the late 1950’s, such cookers were a standard appliance in Japanese homes. Their manufacture and use spread throughout the rest of Asia where rice was the dietary mainstay, and then to the rest of the world where rice-eating continued to grow over the next years of global contact, trade, and culinary exchange. The rice cookers, which, unlike cooking over a flame or electric coil, guarantee perfectly cooked, non-burnt rice every time. The early rice cookers operated via a double chamber with a thermostat-controlled cooking temperature that shut off the heat when the rice was done. Later cookers like this one incorporated increasingly user-friendly technologies, such as a non-stick inner chamber and a stay-warm function. Later cooking processes were governed by microprocessors.
Object Name
rice cooker
date made
ca 1970
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 10 1/2 in x 13 in x 10 1/2 in; 26.67 cm x 33.02 cm x 26.67 cm
ID Number
2011.0152.06
catalog number
2011.0152.06
accession number
2011.0152
Credit Line
Gift of Rayna Green
subject
kitchen
Eating
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Food
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Exhibition
Food: Transforming the American Table
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Comments

We have the model mentioned by CZ Nakao above. I don't know the exact age. We got it used from a Japanese student who was returning to Japan from Los Angeles when we were in grad school in about 1976. It's bubbling away while I'm writing this. Sometimes, like today, it turns off early, and I have to restart it. But once it gets going, it still turns out great rice. I love it!
I bought a National Rice Cooker in Dec of 1962. My late husband and I used it for over 50 years, cooking together . Did the company go out of business or change their name? I would love to buy another one.
Hi Linda. My understanding is that Panasonic used the "National" brand for many of its products sold in Japan and, perhaps, elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region. Thankfully, my National cooker is still alive and well, but if I had to replace it I'd check out Panasonic's online store.
I received a National Rice Cooker - Rice-O-Mat, as a wedding gift in 1971 ( Model SR 10E). The single start button lights when pushed to begin the cooking is the only light. My lid is different than the one pictured, it has a circular black knob. This cooker has never failed to cooker perfect rice for 49 years 10 months. I found this website as I was looking to buy a National Rice Cooker for my son and daughter-in-law for Christmas. I don't want the newer kind with all the bells and whistles. What a wonderful product this has been for almost 50 years and it is still working fine.
I live in the UK and have an American National rice cooker, with only one light, which from what I have read above makes me think is older than the one in the picture. In the 1970s, my husband had an American girlfriend who had come across to Oxford Uni as a Rhodes Scholar. She left Oxford (and Andrew) in a hurry having met a Yugoslavian farmer. So far as we know, she is still there, having survived the break-up of Yugoslavia and the subsequent civil wars. As a temporary measure, Jean left some of her belongings with Andrew, but never returned. Some years later, I came on the scene and threw out the mouldy trainers and beaded cushions, but I'd never seen a rice cooker. I kept it and have used it several times every week ever since. Sadly, like me, the rice cooker is now looking very old and the electric cable would fail any EU wiring test. Do I replace it? Would another ever be as good? I am surprisingly sentimental about the rice cooker.
Awesome product. My mum bought it way back in 1977 from Hongkong. I still use it, although, lately the rice kind of sticks to the bottom.
I have a rice cooker similar to this one and still functional in my house. I brought it over from Hong Kong when I came to State in 1975. It is a 10 cup capacity and able to cook for whole family.
My family bought the same model national rice cooker in San Francisco Chinatown in 1983. It has been used every day for 36 years. Today it cannot be used because of water leakage.I really appreciate the quality of this company.
I have the same rice cooker, but I think mine is older. My National Rice-O-Mat, model SR - 6E only has one light and I bought it in San Francisco Chinatown in 1972-73. My cooker only has one light....the button I press to start the cooking lights up, when I press it to start the cooking process. Our rice cooker even traveled with us to Taiwan in the mid 1990's, when I was an expat for 3 1/2 years. My co-workers thought we had an antique then, and suggested we buy a new cooker then. Well 20 years later, my rice cooker is nearing its end-of-life, I actually stopped using my cooker about a year ago because it would turnoff in the middle of cooking. After a few meals without cooked rice, I switched to using a new cooker gifted to me (same size and looks similar), but a different brand. Unfortunately, the new rice cooker does not work as well, so, I recently switched back to using my beloved old rice cooker. I figured out the electrical connection on the side of cooker was loose, but I can't get inside to fit it. It is tightly sealed. To insure the rice gets cooked, I use a chubby wine bottle opener to prop up the plug into the cooker to insure it stays on. It works great again, but I know it is only a matter of time.
In 1974 my husband accepted a job as a head football coach and professor at a college in Indiana. As we prepared to leave Wisconsin, where he had been on the faculty of a college there, I decided to have a garage sale. One of my friends, whose husband was also a faculty member, decided to sell her rice cooker for 50 cents, on my sale, because her mother in law had given her a new one. I immediately bought it! I have used that little rice cooker probably three times a month since 1974 and it is still working perfectly though the light has burned out. I love this rice cooker - same model as mentioned above. Funny thing is - my friend's “new” rice cooker no longer works - she’d like to buy mine (hers) back for 50 cents! It has been a fun story shared by two long time friends. WTG National! You made a great product! Thank you!!!
We have this same model received as a gift in June of 1981. It is used several times a week and works perfectly each time. I would like to purchase one just like it in case I outlive the rice cooker! However, at age 84 the rice cooker will probably outlast me!! Thank you for making such a great product.

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