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Then & Now: Small Kitchen Appliances

Then & Now: Small Kitchen Appliances

Wish Book

When it comes to matters of the kitchen, specialized appliances can make all the difference when throwing together a hot meal. There are of course the major machines that help you hold down the fort daily, but smaller gizmos and doo-dads can make life a lot easier when you’re trying to get food to the table. From electric can openers to the espresso maker you couldn’t live without, small kitchen appliances have shaved off hours of prep time for amateur cooks and experienced chefs for decades.


A Sign of Things to Come

You may think your 5-speed stand mixer is some kind of modern miracle, but those versatile little marvels have been around since before we landed on the moon. In the Sears Christmas 1964 catalog, an early product shows a fairly similar design to the one we now know and love. It even came with some of the optional attachments that many a kitchen simply couldn’t function without today.

A Good Old-Fashioned Meltdown

Fondue parties were all the rage in the ‘60s, and one of the hottest ways to entertain a small group of guests was with a bubbling pot of dairy. A quality fondue set was a must-have item for any regular host, and then the future came along. In the Sears Wish Book for the 1971 Christmas Season, an electronic upgrade popped up to delight dining room tables everywhere.

Gone were the days of open flames to heat your cheese; this efficient electric fondue pot made it even easier to whip up some steamy goodness. Now the question is: why did we leave fondue parties back in the 1900s? Did someone have a problem with gatherings anchored by melted chocolate? Stupid fat-free fad.

Kenmore stand mixers from the 1964 Sears Christmas Book
Electric fondue pot in the 1971 Sears Wish Book
Food Processor from the 1989 Sears Wish Book
Deep fryer from the 1989 Sears Wish Book
Slow cooker from the 1989 Sears Wish Book


Food Processors, Deep Fryers & Slow Cookers, Oh My!

As kitchen appliances advanced, everything from juicers to waffle makers became hot commodities on American countertops. While this series of small kitchen appliances from Sears’s The Great American Wish Book 1989 brought forth delicious convenience, the designs left something to be desired. I suppose it’s what’s under the hood that counts, but talk about an eye sore. So white! So boxy!


KitchenAid Artisan® Series Empire
Modern Cuisinart electric fondue pot
NutriBullet 8-Piece Blender/Extractor Set

We can all be thankful that these useful gifts have made leaps forward in both power and design. The KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer makes baking far too many batches of your famous holiday cookies more fun than work, and it looks crazy sleek on your countertop to boot.

Or maybe you’re skipping the cookies and taking your New Year’s resolution seriously. (You guys, I’m not kidding this time!) Ditch the dull blenders of yesteryear and take your smoothie game up a notch. Make getting your fruits and veggies a cinch with a shiny new NutriBullet 8-Piece Blender/Extractor Set, even if you’re running late to the yoga class that you’ll definitely quit by March (but we’re not here to judge). And when that day comes, what the heck: heat up some Gruyère and bring fondue into the 21st century.

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