Some days I look around my kitchen and think how lucky we are to have all of the kitchen gadgets we have now. Unlike the generations before us, we don’t really have to do anything by hand when it comes to food preparation in the kitchen. Take milkshakes and smoothies for example, with how popular they have become over the past few years, can you imagine trying to make one without a blender? A blender can chop, puree and blend in seconds, and the only way I can imagine making my favourite smoothie without one is using a potato masher. Can you imagine? There’s just something about that picture that seems ridiculous.
One of my favourite memories as a child was when my siblings and I were allowed to splurge on a summer’s night and whip up a milkshake in the blender. Blenders sure have come a long way since then, and an even longer way since they were created.
When was the blender invented?
As far as small kitchen appliances go, the blender is a considerably newer invention than most. In 1922 a man by the name of Stephen Poplawski decided to place a spinning blade at the bottom of a tall container. He used his new invention to make soda fountain drinks. This initial “blender” drew the interest of another inventor, Fred Osius, who decided to see what improvements he could make to it.
Fred Osius made some changes, and from his design the Waring blender was created in 1933. Fred Waring was a former Penn State student in architecture and engineering, and he was a man of many talents. He actually made his money fronting a band called Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians. Since Fred Osius knew Waring had a love for gadgets and new inventions, he was able to convince him to financially back the project, hence the name Waring blender.
After six months of work and re-design, the blender kept running into technical difficulties, and Waring gave Osius the old heave ho, redesigned the blender himself, and started marketing it on his own name: the Waring Company. He would take his blenders with him to stores, hotels and restaurants while he was on the road with his band. Although he was confident that his blender would “revolutionize American drinks,” I think even he would be surprised at how far blenders have come over the years.
What happened to good old Fred? After his failed attempt with the Waring blender, Fred Osius still had his hand in the blender industry. He was one of three men behind the Hamilton Beach name, and we all know that they’ve made some great kitchen appliances over the years.
Along with the stand-alone blender, there are also hand held or immersion blenders to think of. Immersion blenders (or Bamix as they were first called) were first patented in Switzerland by Roger Perrinjaquet in 1950. Perrinjaquet sold the patent to ESGE Ltd, a company who started production on the design and ran about 250 units a day. Today they make around 2000 per day, and although the company changed ownership a few times over the years, the main concept has been kept the same.
Immersion blenders were used in Europe initially, and by chefs who wanted to save time by blending soup right in the pot. Older immersion blenders were made with a wand of up to two feet high! Thankfully the wands on these style of blenders are now only around 10-12 inches, and their popularity grew when they were introduced into the U.S.A. in the 1980’s. Bamix or immersion blenders are now available in over 25 countries.
These hand-held blenders still have mixed reviews because the blade is easily reachable by a bare hand. I have yet to blend a finger, but I have heard some horror stories. Just make sure to use them correctly and you’ll find the immersion blender to be great for blending sauces and soups right in the pot or container you are cooking in.
Today you can find blenders of many varieties and price ranges. The containers now come in plastic, glass or stainless steel with a base to match your current kitchen decor. They are very sleek in their design, and I know mine fits easily into my cupboard. Blenders also come with so many different options such as speed, a heating function and other attachments making them multi-use.
Depending on what you will be using your blender for, there are different speed options to choose from. Blenders can have from 2 up to 22 speeds and can be much quieter than they used to be. If you’re like me and you really only use it for shakes and smoothies, you don’t have to buy the most powerful one available. But if you are a blender fan who likes to crush nuts, ice, or even coffee, there are some amazing ones with powerful and high-speed motors like the Blendtec Designer 650S 2.66L 1560-Watt Countertop Blender. It has a 1560W motor with 8 manual speeds and 6 pre-programmed cycles such as ice cream, smoothie and soup.
You can even find blenders with a heating function now. Vitamix has a few options that allow you to blend or puree your soup and heat it all in one go. It’s a quick and easy way to make a healthy meal with very little clean up required.
There are also multi-use blenders that come with other attachments. If you want to get the best bang for your buck, then you might want to find a blender with other functions such as juicing and more attachments such as to-go cups.
While a typical stand blender is handy for many uses you may also want to have an immersion blender on hand. This KitchenAid 2-Speed Immersion Blender has two speeds and stainless-steel blades as well as a soft non-slip grip handle. It also includes a 3-cup blending jar that can be used to store foods for later.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the history of blenders. I think it’s fascinating to look back and see how far appliances have come over the years and intrigues me to think about what’s yet to come. Doesn’t it also give you a real appreciation for all of the latest kitchen appliances on your counters?
You can find a great selection of blenders at bestbuy.ca.
Main image www.kitchenaid.ca
Waring blender www.etsy.com
Bamix blender www.etsy.com