Time-saving kitchen gadgets and appliances reflect the changing decades just as much as fashion. Think back to the time of the Soda Stream, teasmade and chip pan, and you’ll realise how far we’ve come over the last 60 years. Our current cooking and cleaning routines are almost unrecognisable compared to the lifestyle our grandparents experienced.
Developments in kitchen technology have done us a great service, we now spend far less time in the kitchen than ever before. In fact, reports suggest we’ve halved cooking times since the 1980s. To aid busy family lives, kitchen products are now moving towards becoming self-sufficient, so things are ready to use at the touch of a button, requiring less effort from us.
We take a nostalgic look back at some of the key kitchen innovations over the last few decades and predict those we believe will become essentials in the future.
Russell Hobbs was the first manufacturer to launch the electric kettle in the 1950s, containing a thermostat which cut the power as soon as the water reached boiling point. The 50s also saw the rise in popularity of the electric toaster with the introduction of the automatic ‘pop up’ action.
Automatic electric washing machine units were adopted in the 60s, which signalled the end of the time-consuming mangle and washboard. The technology quickly developed from a single washing unit with spin-cycle to a twin tub, top-loading model for washing and drying. The electric refrigerator also went into mass production, using fluorocarbon refrigerants which were later discovered to cause damage to the Earth’s ozone layer. Today, modern domestic fridges use non-toxic hydrocarbons such as isobutane.
This period gave rise to a plethora of smaller, portable kitchen gadgets such as the teasmade which combined a teapot, kettle and clock for a fresh brew without even getting out of bed. The Soda Stream also gained popularity thanks to a successful marketing campaign and the promise of endless fizzy drinks.
This era was defined by the microwave, which by 1967 became more affordable following the launch of a countertop version (as opposed to the six-foot-tall prototype). The first branded microwave was called the Radarange, developed by inventor Percy Spencer who inadvertently discovered the heating properties of magnetrons.
1990s – 2000s
Familiar favourites such as the bread maker came into existence during the 80s, following the release of the first machine in Japan by the Matsushita Electric Industrial Co (now Panasonic). Other gadgets promised to make our lives easier, from blenders and juicers to the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine. The focus was on technology to aid a healthier lifestyle and better eating habits.
Today and tomorrow
The latest technologies now prioritise safety, energy-efficiency, appearance and speed. The induction hob is a perfect example. It directs the heat so that only the pan gets hot, leaving the rest of the cooker top cool – an important safety feature for any busy family kitchen.
Today’s products are also designed to cut cleaning time, the latest pyrolytic ovens have a self-cleaning programme which removes tough food residue by heating to very high temperatures. During this cycle, the oven door will lock for added safety.
When it comes to the future, the focus is on smart, Wi-Fi connected appliances that can automatically call out an engineer if they detect a problem or update your shopping list when you’re running low on groceries. Intelligent fridges are now fitted with cameras that pass images of the contents to your phone, so you can double-check what you need even if you’re in the supermarket.
We’re experienced at selecting the right technology to suit your lifestyle, so you can spend less time working in your kitchen and more time enjoying it. Call us today on 01959 457008 or visit our showroom in Westerham, Kent, for more information on how technology can enhance your lifestyle.