Electric mixers have only been around for about one hundred years, yet they are now a “must have” for any serious chefs and/or bakers.
Historically we really need to take a look at the whisk to see the evolution of the food mixers we use today.
The first whisk
The very first whisk dates to pre 19th century use of bundles of twigs from apple and peach trees being used to whisk and impart flavor at the same time. Cooks or servants would have spent a lot of time on mixing ingredients before the first whisk was brought about in France in the mid-19th century.
The French have historically always been into their food with some of the finest cuisine in the world. So it is no surprise to find that the first wire whisk was invented in France as an aid to food preparation.
This idea soon spread to Europe and beyond and would soon be imitated and improved on by other keen inventors.
Different inventors had different ideas on design. It seems that a Tinsmith from Baltimore called Ralph Collier came up with an “egg beater” with rotating parts at the end of 1856.
From this one simple tool using a gear mechanism followed many other uses including drills and even car transmissions.
Colliers egg beater really did the job it was designed for, but hot on the tail was the British inventor E.P. Griffiths with another idea to improve on this design in 1857.
Griffiths invention in 1857 had a pot attached although it probably was not removable he was definitely going in the right direction.
Back to America
The Monroe’s sold one of the earliest patents to the Dover Stamping Company and the Dover egg beater became the branded gadget of the time. Of course the first ones were very expensive in their time, probably only afforded by the best households with a staff of servants. Eventually as more patents came out the price went from $1.50 down to a few cents in 1912, making them more affordable for households.
Whilst working on egg beating, the Dover Stamping Company were pleased with the results of paint mixing so the design was also used in industrial applications.
Moving on the 20th Century
In 1915 the commercial machine had a bowl moving in one direction and a beater rotating in the opposite direction known as “planetary action”. It was the Johnsons Hobart mixer known as Model H.
By 1918 the Hobart company executives were home testing a scaled down version for home use, at least their wives were! Apparently one of the wives said “All I know is that it’s the best kitchen aid I have ever had” hence the name KitchenAid!
The first KitchenAid Food Preparer (stand mixer) weighed 65 lbs. and had a retail price of $2,000 in today’s money. Retailers were a bit reluctant to take it on so Hobart employed a sales team of mainly women to demonstrate the appliance that could also produce citrus juice and had a grinding attachment. Never mind the price, it was a “must have” for anyone who could afford it.
For a while this continued until Sunbeam came along with its MixMaster machine in 1939 a much lighter and much more affordable alternative.
KitchenAid did not really catch up until 1936 with the help of an industrial designer called Egmont Argens who came up with the bullet shaped KitchenAid, lighter and less expensive than the first KitchenAid.
Naturally more manufacturers wanted a share of the market, some came and went, but some stood the test of time.
In 1973 Carl Sonheimer introduced the Cuisinart food processor and by 1977 the design had really taken off.
Since then all around the world designers have been refining the blueprint for food mixers and today we can choose from any number of top branded products without taking out a mortgage.
From a bundle of twigs to modern day mixers, thanks to the humble whisk we now have time and labor saving devices to help us produce fantastic batters and delicious bread doughs, often delivered right to the door!
Have a look at Mixer Picks if you don’t believe me.