Refrigeration is nothing new. Ice has been used to keep food and drink cold for centuries. Even modern refrigeration methods have been around for more than a century. For example, from 1870, breweries aggressively employed large-scale refrigeration technologies, such as absorption machines, to keep their products cold [source: Krasner-Khait].
Home refrigeration, on the other hand, came a little later. The icebox was a handy home appliance. You simply placed a block of ice over a sealed compartment, and your perishables would keep for about two days.
The first mechanical refrigerator went on display at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, and the first household unit was marketed 10 years later [source: National Academy of Engineering]. These devices slowly won out over the ice box for a simple reason: They could preserve perishables for a week.
Before the mechanical refrigerator caught on, the need to feed the ice box was one of many social tasks associated with keeping house. Households would hang out a sign that said, "Ice Today," and the ice wagon would stop. In the course of the day, you would meet the ice man, the milk man, the grocer and the butcher. But with the wide adoption of electric refrigerators, the ice men went out of business, and the job of keeping house became a little more isolated.
For more on household appliances and related technologies, take a look at the next page.
More Great Links
- Carter, Constance. "The History of Household Technology." Library of Congress. July 12, 2010. (Oct. 25, 2011) http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/journey/household-transcript.html
- Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. "Less Work for Mother?" American Heritage Magazine. Vol. 38, Issue 6. pp. 68-76. September/October 1987.
- Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. "More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Techology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave." New York:Basic Books. 1993.
- Eastern North Carolina Digital Library, East Carolina University. "Bed Warmer." 2006. (Oct. 27, 2011) http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/historyfiction/artifact.aspx?id=hbc
- Eastern North Carolina Digital Library, East Carolina University. "Spinning Wheel." Copyright 2006. (Oct. 27, 2011) http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/historyfiction/artifact.aspx?id=han
- Krasner-Khait, Barbara. "The Impact of Refrigeration." History Magazine. February/March 2000. (Oct. 24, 2011) http://www.history-magazine.com/refrig.html
- Kautzman, Robert. "VacHunter-History." Vacuum Cleaner Museum. 2004. (Oct. 24, 2011) http://vachunter.com/index.html
- Malan, Allan , and Deanna Malan. "Bee Boxes to pie pullers: wash on Monday * iron on Tuesday * mend on Wednesday * churn on Thursday * clean on Friday * bake on Saturday * rest on Sunday. (women's daily work in Michigan)." Michigan History Magazine. Vol. 82, no. 2. p. 12. March-April 1998.
- Maytag Collectors Club. "Evolution of the Maytag Wringer Washer." 1997-2010. (Oct. 24, 2011) http://www.maytagclub.com/
- National Academy of Engineering. "Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Timeline." 2011. (Oct. 27, 2011) http://www.greatachievements.org/?id=3854
- National Academy of Engineering. "Household Appliances History Part 1 - Cooking." 2011. (Oct. 26, 2011) http://www.greatachievements.org/?id=3771
- National Academy of Engineering. "Household Appliances Timeline." 2011. (Oct. 26, 2011) http://www.greatachievements.org/?id=3768
- Thuro, Catherine M.V. "Oil Lamps 3: Victorian kerosene lighting, 1860-1900." Toronto: Collector Books. 2001.
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