New Materials, New Tools
Using materials developed before and during World War II, manufacturers created new equipment and appliances for postwar cooks. Plastics, nonstick coatings, and freezer-to-oven glass were among the most successful. Tupperware, Teflon, and CorningWare housewares and new electrical gadgets took their place in many kitchens next to old reliable glass jars and cast iron and aluminum skillets.
Sous vide is a cooking technique developed in France in the 1960s and used by American chefs since the 1980s. Sealed in plastic, food is cooked slowly in water, which preserves its texture, flavors, and nutrients.
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.
From the Burner to the Freezer
Corning Glass Works formulated a glass ceramic material in the 1950s that withstood extreme temperatures. A single CorningWare dish could be used for cooking, freezing, and serving food.
The Sound of the Shortcut
The automatic electric opener, introduced in 1958, made short work of opening cans.
Cooks while the Cook’s Away
The slow-cooking, electric Crock-Pot with a removable insert allowed cooks to start dinner before leaving home for the day and return to a fully cooked meal.
Rival Crock-Pot with cookbook, around 1975
Gift of Robert and Shirley Hunter
Robert and Shirley Hunter of Pennsylvania used this slow-cooker for making stews, sauerkraut with kielbasa, and halushki, a cabbage-and-noodle hot dish.
Handlebars in the Kitchen
The OXO company created Good Grips kitchen tools that could be easily used by everyone, including people with disabilities. Introduced in 1990, they featured contoured rubber handles modeled after the grips on bicycle handlebars.
Good Grips tools, around 1995
Gift of Elsa Edwards
These tools were purchased by an avid cook after she started feeling the effects of arthritis.
Multicookers for Multitaskers
In the 2010s, home cooks embraced multicookers that featured programmable microprocessors. Combining the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, and more, multicookers allowed cooks to prepare meals in a hurry.
It Slices! It Dices!
Samuel J. Popeil invented his Veg-O-Matic slicer in 1963. Sold on late-night television by his son, Ron, the device was immortalized by the sales pitch “It slices! It dices!”
Cutting Edge Improvements
By the 1980s, many ambitious home cooks invested in professional kitchen equipment, especially knives. They soon discovered that maintaining a sharp edge was difficult. Engineer Dan Friel designed an electric knife sharpener that many consumers found helpful.
"It's so good I put my name on it!"
Boxer George Foreman, who reclaimed the world heavyweight title at the age of forty-five, credited his comeback to a healthy lifestyle. His story and charisma helped make the portable, electric grill a runaway success of the 1990s.