modern appliances in kitchen

Times have changed, and so have all of your appliances. Take refrigerators for example: We all love the retro appearance now, but it’s hard to believe what the interior and features looked like back in the 50’s, 60’s, or 70’s. Given how much appliance tech has advanced, it’s even harder to believe just how much refrigerators have changed just over the past decade.

If you want to upgrade your fridge right now, you might be taking a good look at your existing fridge and wondering exactly what features drew you to it in the first place. If you have a really old fridge, some of those must-have features will seem retro in comparison.

Have you ever taken a good look at the retro features on refrigerators? Here’s a look at what was hot then and what’s hot now.

Colour-keyed door handles vs Door-in-Door

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door in door refrigerator

It might seem hard to believe now, but colour-keyed door handles were a thing back in the 50’s. They were a ‘femineered’ feature on refrigerators from the International Harvest Company. I’m guessing femineered meant that girls really wanted multi-colour door handles on their refrigerators.

Colour-keyed door handles are a thing of the past, but Door-in-Door might be in your future. This feature makes getting food easy, and it’s the best way to store the most-accessed items you put in your fridge.

Door-in-Door is a must-have feature because you can just open the front panel to get to those foods quickly. It also keeps the rest of the food inside your fridge even fresher because you’re not constantly cooling your fridge off by opening and closing the main door.

Side-by-side refrigerator vs the upright ice box

upright ice box food showcase upgrade your fridge

Times have changed, but some styles of refrigerator remain the same. Case in point? The coveted upright ice box style of refrigerator from the 50’s and 60’s looks fairly similar to the new side-by-side refrigerators you can choose now. The difference between old and new is that when you upgrade your fridge to the newest side-by-side refrigerators you’ll be able to store your commonly accessed food in a food showcase system that puts everything at your fingertips.

Retro Self Defrost vs Dual freezer drawers

vintage fridge self d frost.jpg

two drawer freezer

Do you remember your grandma scrubbing ice crystals off the inside of her freezer? Self defrost must have been an amazing feature way back when, but now you have the option of freezing your foods separately in more than one freezer drawer.

Having two freezer drawers with independent temperature control will keep all of your meats and other foods icy cold. Some dual freezer drawer refrigerators work as coolers for drink storage too.

Fridge compartments vs 4 Door refrigerators

upgrade your fridge retro ad four door refrigerator

I’ll admit it, when I see a vintage refrigerator in cute colours like pink and green, I’m overcome with a strong desire to bring that refrigerator home and install it in my kitchen. The problem? The interior of these refrigerators had a layout like an open floor plan in your home. There were shelves but no compartments.

I don’t know about you, but I’d really miss having compartments in a refrigerator. They let you organize your food to maximize your space, and that organization becomes even easier when you upgrade your fridge to a new 4-door or 4 French door refrigerator. This type of refrigerator has customizable shelving and single door access to each section of your fridge. You can even adjust the temperature for specific zones like your meat drawer or cold drink storage.

Butter trays vs sparkling water dispenser

sparkling water dispenser


Can you imagine having a refrigerator where a tray to hold your butter was a big deal? Storage for butter and other dairy products has been around for a long time, but sparkling water dispensers haven’t.

Did you know some models of refrigerator will let you use SodaStream cartridges to produce sparkling water on demand? You could upgrade your fridge to pour bubbly water, add a slice of lemon, or pick up SodaStream flavours and create your own soda.

Fruit and vegetable crispers vs LED Lighting

hydrator crisper drawers

The Hydrator is where fruit and vegetable drawers began. We now know that certain types of fruit emit gas that can cause vegetables to go bad more quickly than if they were separate, and these moist air compartments designed to keep everything fresh and crispy were an amazing new feature in the 1930’s.

If you’re going to upgrade your fridge today, fruit and vegetable drawers are pretty standard. What hasn’t been mainstream until recently is LED Lighting. It’s an energy efficient method of lighting your refrigerator, and because standard incandescent lamps can emit 90% of the energy they use as heat and only 10% as light, LED is the coolest way to light every corner of your fridges so you can always see your leftovers, drinks, and dairy products.

The best new feature? Energy Star

The biggest reason I wouldn’t bring home an old refrigerator, even if just wanted to have it as a second fridge to hold drinks or extra milk jugs, is because they take too much electricity to run.

Old refrigerators will put a serious dent in your electric bill, and I’m grateful we have Energy Star rated appliances to cut down on your power bill and reduce your environmental footprint. When you upgrade your fridge now you know you’re going to use at least half as much energy as you would with a retro refrigerator.

refrigerator table

If this is how far refrigerators have come, can you imagine what they’ll look like in 10, 20, or 30 years? We could be seeing Jetson-style food storage and preparation, all in one. You never know.

If you’ve been looking at your fridge and feeling like it’s outdated, now is a great time to sit back, figure out which new features you’d like, and make the decision to upgrade your fridge.

With new styles, colours, and features, there’s never been a better time to take your appliances from old to new. Check out four door, French door, and door-in-door refrigerators right now on Best Buy, and you’ll see how the options for storing and organizing your food have never been more diverse.

Shelly Wutke
Editor TV & Home Theatre
I'm a Vancouver freelancer and tech enthusiast. When I'm not writing you'll find me on my farm with my alpacas, chickens, and honeybees. Visit my website Survivemag