The refrigerator has not always been a staple in the American kitchen. When it was invented, most Americans were living on farms and meat, milk, and produce were all bought at the local general store. The first electric refrigerator was invented by a General Electric employee named Albert Yonas back in 1913.
It’s hard to imagine life without the fridge as we know it today, but innovations like this don’t just happen overnight: they require years of research and development before they are introduced to the world with much fanfare. Nowadays we’re lucky if a new appliance stays on shelves for more than year (or week), due mostly to consumer demands for novelty or better features than what is already available elsewhere.
The home refrigerator has been around for over 100 years, but these days they are truly a thing of beauty: from ice makers, to water dispensers, to flavor settings and beyond it’s hard to imagine life without your refrigerator. Even if it doesn’t have every feature under the sun, chances are you’ve got one in your kitchen right now that will keep your perishable foods preserved until you need them.
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The first refrigerator was actually invented by an American Physicist named William Cullen. He discovered that if he mixed alcohol with water and kept it at a low temperature, it would actually become a solid substance (what we now know as ‘ice’). In 1846, he displayed a ‘cooling box’ at the Philadelphia Convention of American Mechanics and was responsible for introducing the concept of refrigeration to the public.
After moving to England, William Cullen established a company for the production and sale of ice machines. In 1874 he invented a system for the artificial storage of food by converting into ice water containers and coolers designed especially for restaurants and shops.
The first refrigerator to be marketed in North America was developed by Dr. John Gorrie, Jr., who was named an honorary member of AME in New York City on March 15, 1877. In 1880, Gorrie filed a patent on a refrigeration system that used a circulation of air and water to create an environment for storing food.
Gorrie’s invention was actually first patented in England on April 18, 1888. An American inventor, Frank Julian Sprague , invented the first refrigeration machine in 1889. He introduced his machine at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and demonstrated it at the Philadelphia World’s Fair in1893.
The first floor-standing refrigerator was built by General Electric Company for the U.S Navy. It was completed on January 25, 1918 and had an enameled finish throughout. It weighed 1,000 pounds and was 42 inches tall. The company began building Frigidaire brand refrigerators in 1920.
Other facts about refrigerators: The world’s biggest refrigerator is located in South Bend, Indiana. It holds 3,500 tons of food and has a volume of 590,000 cubic feet!
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The world’s most unusual refrigerator can be found at the Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. It is cooled to -76 degrees Fahrenheit and holds 473 pounds of food. The station was established in 1957 and serves as the center for Russian research activities in the Southern Hemisphere.
The first home refrigerator was produced by General Electric in 1911. It cost approximately $1,200 and was a massive piece of furniture, measuring six feet tall, four feet wide, and three feet deep.
The world’s largest ice cream maker was created for Betty Crocker by the Chill-Ice Company of Minneapolis in 1950. The machine weighed a whopping 2,900 pounds and was 12 feet long. Chill-Ice also built the world’s largest margarine maker for Swift & Company in 1958 (a machine holding 2,000 pounds of margarine).
In 1912 Ladies Home Journal began an advertising campaign called “The Mother and Child” to promote Frigidaire brand refrigerators to women.
Toledo Refrigerator Company published a booklet in 1907 to promote their brand of refrigerators. It included recipes for cooking with one, and was revised and updated each year until 1919. Factory door prizes were awarded to lucky Toledo Freezer owners.
As of September 30, 1986 there were 571,000 home refrigerators in use in America. That same day there were also approximately 25 million home freezers in use here in the U.S.!
As of July 2002, there were over 157 million refrigerated display cases holding food for sale behind the counter at U.S supermarkets. As of the same time, there were approximately 7 million refrigerators being used for home use at home.
The world’s largest all-electric refrigerator was built by General Electric in 1948 for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It was a portable unit that weighed 15 tons and held 5,600 cubic feet of food!
The world’s largest refrigerated display case (custom built) can be found at a Cincinnati Food Fair. It can hold 29,000 pounds and is 20 feet long! The display itself is large enough to fit four standard refrigerators side by side.
Holding in excess of 25 tons of fresh fish, the world’s largest ice maker is located at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was built in 1996 at a cost of $1.6 million by Wurlitzer Industries of Cleveland, Ohio.
In 1968 the world’s largest refrigerator was built for the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the September 11th attacks on New York City two years later. It stored food for nearly 3,000 employees and their guests 24 hours a day!
The largest ice cream maker ever made for home use had 53 gallons of capacity: that’s 53 (yes!) gallons! Constructed by Tops Ice Cream Corporation of New York City, it weighed 95 tons and was 48 feet long .
In 1961, General Electric began selling the first refrigerator with a freezer on the top. In 1961, General Electric began selling the first refrigerator with a freezer on the top.
Ninety percent of all household refrigerators run on conventional, alternating current electricity as do most other electric appliances in your home. The exception is when they are used as part of another process (like freezing or cooling).
In 1869, the first refrigerated railroad car was used to carry food from a farm to the markets in New York City. It was invented by Robert E. Evans and J.G. Hall and sold to the Western Fruit Express Company for $1,000!
In 1976 The First National Supermarket Company installed commercial refrigerated display cases at their stores in Homewood, Illinois and Tucson, Arizona. The cases held approximately 20,000 pounds of food and were kept frozen until shoppers got around to buying it.
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In the late 1870’s, a company called the American Refrigerating Company built the first ice-making machine. The machine could produce up to 10 tons of ice daily.
In 1971, General Electric began selling a refrigerator that included a freezer on top. The freezer was designed for use in homes with newborn babies, so that food could be kept refrigerated and ready for use if needed.
The first electric refrigerator was built in 1834 by James Harrison . It ran on a long wire suspended from the ceiling, with a second wire holding the food. A current generated by a chemical reaction between zinc and sulfuric acid passed between the two wires to keep the food cold.
In 1900, one person in every 100 had an electricity-based refrigeration unit in their home. By 1940, that number had increased to one out of every 10 people! By 1950, 90% of American homes were using refrigerators!
In 1942 the first artificial ice cream machine was invented by Frank Epperson . He accidentally left his drink with a mix of raspberry syrup and shaved ice outside one winter day. When he threw the drink away, he discovered that the syrup had frozen and created a tasty treat!
In 1974, General Electric began selling a refrigerator with a freezer on top. The freezer was designed for use in homes with newborn babies, so that food could be kept refrigerated and ready for use if needed.
Ninety percent of all household refrigerators run on conventional alternating current electricity as do most other electric appliances in your home. The exception is when they are used as part of another process (like freezing or cooling).
In 1952, an ice-making machine at the Pickfair restaurant served its first batch of steel-cut ice to Marilyn Monroe .
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