March 24, 2008

1929 Frigidaire Refrigerators

Frigidaire Frozen Delights (1929, 48 pages) is interesting in that it appears to be, for some reason, aimed at apartment dwellers. The subtitle of this small cookbook is "Especially Prepared for Apartments with Frigidaire."

In 1925 the cost of a Frigidaire household refrigerator was about $500, the price significantly reduced by about 50 percent from what it was a mere five years earlier. By the time this booklet was published, Frigidaire was the top selling refrigerator brand, the company having already achieved their millionth refrigerator sale.

By 1929, perhaps the price had come down enough to where it was cost effective to put Frigidaire refrigerators into new apartments.

When I think of apartments, I immediately think of New York City, where there are thousands of multi-story apartment buildings. (I do not think of the bland and boring, two or three-story, sprawling apartment complexes that are the norm for my own city and where there is always a parking space near your front door.) Although this book on the history of New York apartment houses stops short of the time period when this cookbook was published, I found it to be very interesting reading. The 1920s was a time when many new apartment houses were being built in NYC.

Here in Houston, amazingly enough, the Plaza Apartment Hotel, built in 1925, has thus far escaped the bulldozer and still stands. This article tells something about one of our, until recently, few multi-story apartment buildings. One of the features was that all apartments were equipped with were electric refrigerators that made ice cubes. Maybe they were Frigidaires.

The booklet makes no other mention of apartments other than the subtitle and the following sentence in the Introduction: "The preparation of frozen desserts represents an entirely new application of the apartment refrigerator." The same paragraph also mentions that an experimental kitchen was installed at the Dayton, Ohio Frigidaire factory. I can't decide whether the small illustration beside this paragraph is supposed to depict an apartment kitchen or their home economics test kitchen. As far as I can tell, there was no real size distinction between a Frigidaire for an apartment and a regular Frigidaire. It's more likely that this was just another marketing angle.

This cookbook includes almost one hundred recipes for everything from beverages to salad dressings that were made practical through the use of continual refrigeration.

There are no color illustrations. Most of them are of this type shown here.

The following two drawings are included within the text, showing suggested food placement for obtaining optimal food storage results. These show both the two-door and the single-door units, and Frigidaire Models AP-7-a and D-7-1 are mentioned in the captions.

These models look very similar to the Kelvinator that I wrote about earlier this year.

This April 1928 advertisement from the Ladies Home Journal shows an illustration of what the two door Frigidaire in the cookbook probably looked like.

I was amused with the portion of the booklet referencing storage containers--no nasty plastic back then.

Containers for Food

The absence of excessive moisture in Frigidaire is a distinct advantage in preserving perishable foods. But it is essential that foods be properly stored to realize the full benefits of this dry cold. Liquids and wet foods, for instance, should be covered. The containers may be of metal, earthenware or glass. The most satisfactory containers, however, are those of glass, for they have the advantage of transparency, which saves time often wasted in searching for articles in covered pans.
This recipe from the Cocktails section (they're not talking beverages here) sounds awful. Thankfully, most of the other recipes seem to be a little more appealing.


Pour some sherry wine flavor over seedless raisins and let stand in Frigidaire for one hour. Make a sauce of one cup tomato catsup, season with a dash of tobasco (sic) sauce, celery seed and the juice of two lemons. Add a few chopped almonds. Fill glasses and chill.


At 9:30 PM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

The Raisin Cocktail just prompted a loud shreik of horror here in NY. That Frigidaire in the drawing would have filled out the entire NY apartment kitchen!

At 7:42 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - I too thought the kitchens appeared rather roomy.

At 8:53 AM CDT, Blogger Shay said...

Refrigerator marketing aimed at apartment dwellers was probably exploiting the fact that iceboxes were a hard fit in most apartment kitchens.

If you look at house plans drawn up between, say 1900 and the mid 1920's, you will notice there is always a separate back entrance to the kitchen with a landing for the icebox.

This meant you had to take a few extra steps while cooking but kept the iceman and his big dirty feet and dripping ice chunks OUT of your nice clean kitchen.

At 9:08 PM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an old advertisement for Frigidaire from 1929 when the model AP-4 was brand new. Frigidaire was putting on demonstrations for the public on "Cold Control." It also corresponded with their 1 millionth Frigidaire. During the week of June 25th to July 3rd, Frigidaire invited folks to "drop-by" for this demonstration and they would be served frozen desserts made by this "Cold control" method. I bet some of the desserts in this cookbook were some of those served.


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