June 24, 2008

G-E Kitchen Institute

I love to look at pictures of old kitchens, especially those from the 1930s. I found some illustrations of what the most up-to-date modern kitchens might look like during that time period in The New Art of Buying, Preserving and Preparing Foods (1933, 112 pages).

This cookbook was published by the General Electric Kitchen Institute. The G-E Kitchen Institute was located in Cleveland, Ohio in Nela Park. In all the time I spent roaming and exploring northeast Ohio, I somehow missed Nela Park. (Which is kind of irritating to me now, as I wish I had some current pictures of the place.) I did find some photos online though, which I guess is better than nothing. How did I miss a place this large?

The Institute was fairly new at the time of publication. It's purpose is described in the first section, "A New Art in Home Management."

The entire activities of the Institute are devoted to making the home a more enjoyable place to live and work. Electricity has made possible many new and better methods of kitchen management and it is the purpose of the institute to study, develop and perfect these methods and to show you how best to use them.

Here complete all-electric model kitchens of different sizes are installed. These modern kitchens have electric refrigeration for preservation of foods and cold cookery--electric ranges for better cooking and baking--electric dishwashers to wash and dry the dishes--and many other electrical appliances that General Electric has developed to aid the flow of kitchen work. These various appliances are put in use in the Institute under actual home conditions.
This picture, from the front of the book, shows their home economics experts at work in one of the clean, tidy and modern kitchens.

The Kitchen Institute also offered a Kitchen Planning Division, where skilled architects would help you design a new kitchen resplendent with modern efficiency, beauty and convenience.

All you need do to secure the services of the General Electric Institute is make a very rough sketch of your present kitchen, showing dimensions and equipment you now have. Then call in the G-E representative and he will make arrangements with the G-E Institute to help you modernize your kitchen. If you wish, he will make the rough sketch for you similar to the sample sketch shown below.

Kitchen remodels in 1933 weren't any different than they are now in 2008. They're expensive. The cookbook notes that "the complete kitchen can be gradually acquired on the G-E Step-by-Step Plan, making it easy for families with limited budgets to plan for and eventually own a complete, distinctively designed General Electric Kitchen."

I like this one, particularly the floor. The dishwasher is located just to the right of the sink.

This is the Provincial Designed Kitchen in the General Electric Institute.

In promoting their Kitchen Planning Division, they show Before and After views of one kitchen. Here's a BEFORE view. "The old-fashioned kitchen full of work, crossed and re-crossed with countless steps. The scene of hundreds of lost hours loaded with routine drudgery ... the result is lost youth and beauty, and impaired health."

Here's the AFTER view. Looks like they enlarged the window. The cabinetry gives it a whole new look.

This was the new Ten Star GE Refrigerator shown in the cookbook. A GE magazine ad from that time advertised that you could start your new General Electric Kitchen for only $7 a month.

This General Electric Range featured a Calrod heating element, a smokeless broiler pan, sliding shelves, acid-resisting porcelain, a buffet oven top and convenient lighting.

I didn't really realize they had dishwashers available in 1933. The book claims that the General Electric Dishwasher would wash and dry all the day's dishes in 5 minutes. That's quite a bit faster than mine does now.

There's a lot more to look at in this cookbook, but I'll do that another time.

Although I like to look at pictures of kitchens from the 1930s, I'm not particularly fond of cooking in them. Because they don't all look like the illustrations shown in this cookbook. The house I'm in now was built about 1924. Here's a picture of part of the kitchen in 1999 before the house was redone.

I'm pretty sure this was the original kitchen cabinet and sink. If the previous owners hadn't updated the knob and tube wiring, why would they have bothered with new cabinets? Thankfully, it doesn't look quite like this anymore.

Suffice it to say that I watched entirely too much HGTV back then.


At 4:50 AM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

The pictures of the old appliances - considered very modern at the time - look great!


Post a Comment

<< Home