EMILY HALLOCK (this article was published in October 2012)
Each week, we rummage through the dark corners of our kitchen drawers to bring you an enigmatic item. We ask you to guess what it is in our weekly From the From the Back of the Drawer puzzle. To enter this week’s puzzle, visit this page. To read more descriptions of past items, visit this page. And, don’t forget to donate your odd items to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
This week, we found an ice crusher!
In the early 20th century refrigeration exploded onto the scene of American culture. No longer did ice need to be hauled from the peaks of mountains only to half melt by the time it reached customers who paid an exorbitant amount of money for it. No longer did food go bad within a day or two due to the inability to keep it cold. By the 1930’s, the refrigerator had become a practical household appliance due to the discovery of Freon, a gas much less toxic than ammonia and sulfur dioxide which had previously been used for refrigeration appliances. These safer, more affordable pieces of equipment found their way into almost every home, and with them, the ability to keep food cold, and make ice.
Having only ever been produced in restaurants and surely seen as a luxury item, homemade ice and the culture surrounding it, took off. The 1950’s saw a surge in kitchen appliances and cookbooks focused on chilled food items and drinks. One of these appliances was the Rival Ice-O-Mat ice crusher. With three different settings and a handy removable compartment
you can crush enough ice for whatever you need! Need to keep shrimp cold at a party? Need to cool that gimlet to near freezing temperatures? Have no fear! The Ice-O-Mat can crush as much ice as you’ve got!
It became a culture of coolness. Suddenly everything was enjoyed at a cooler temperature. Hot chocolate became iced chocolate. Ice cream became the new favorite dessert. Gelatins and aspics were everywhere. Of course, everything is exciting when it’s new, but nowadays we’ve come to take having ice at our fingertips for granted when that was not always the case. So the next time you’re out and about on a hot, sunny day and you buy yourself an ice cold refreshment, think about all the history encompassed by that single cube of ice.
Our Rating: Save it! You don’t find appliances like these anymore and
having one could definitely start a few conversations.
Design: Great! Although it is a single-use appliance, having crushed ice is
never a bad thing.
Originality: Good. There are quite a few simpler ways to crush up some ice,
but this is probably one of the more fashionable and fun ways!
Practicality: Great in the 1950’s! Now, not so much. Most people can get
crushed ice from the door of their refrigerator! This is more of a collectible
antique than an appliance to be used today.