Household appliances of the 1950s
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In the 1950s, the kitchen moved from a place for simply preparing food to the heart of the home. This new emphasis on the kitchen, combined with recent technological advances, meant that 1950s homes contained a number of new electrical appliances.
These labour-saving devices reduced the long workweek of the average housewife and allowed for more leisure time than before.
Gas and electric stoves had already been available for some time, but the 1950s introduced coloured appliances with easy-to-clean enamel surfaces. White was no longer the only available option, and all of the kitchen appliances could be matched in colour.
The electric refrigerators of the 1950s were more efficient and streamlined than their predecessors, as well as much cheaper. Like stoves, they were now available in coloured finishes, enabling homeowners to put together individualised kitchen decorating plans. Refrigerators at this time were still relatively small; some models were even small enough to fit under the countertop.
Electric mixers were also common in kitchens of the 1950s. These devices were relatively heavy and expensive compared to modern mixers, and were made of glass, metal and sturdy plastic. Some mixers included juicer and meat grinder attachments.
The 1950s also saw the introduction of the electric percolator. While hob percolators had been popular for some time, electric models allowed cooks to make coffee without the worry of the coffee boiling over or burning.
The first commercial microwave ovens were manufactured in 1954 and 1955. At the time, they cost about £845, which is equivalent to more than £6,500 in 2010. They had a power rating of 1600 watts, which is significantly greater than most modern home models.
Electric washing machines available in the 1950s had a single tub and an attached wringer. They cost about a month's wages for most ordinary people, but made laundry day much simpler than old hand-washing methods. Powered dryers were not yet widely available. Washing machines were often located in the kitchen during this period.
- Electric washing machines available in the 1950s had a single tub and an attached wringer.
G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.