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Brand Bible by Debbie Millman

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F39 Job:09-26878 Title:RP-Brand Bible
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BRAND BIBLE186
(Text)
1 4
 of domestic appli-
ances in the booming postwar years can be seen in
the August 1948 issue of House & Garden maga-
zine, whose cover rather prosaically featured little
more than the interior drying rack of a Hotpoint
dishwasher. The accompanying feature story,
The Vanishing American,” outlined the decline
of what had been an essential xture of every
upper to upper-middle class home for centuries:
the domestic servant. Replaced by a seemingly
endless parade of chromed and enameled appli-
ances for cooking, cleaning, and comfort, the maid
the evoLution
of Branding
appLianCes

use me

An old gas cooker (left)
and an antique stove
with bull-head motive
(right)

House & Garden
magazine cover,
August 1948
Sergej Razvodovskij/Shutterstock.com Reddogs/Shutterstock.com
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had become a relic of a bygone era, and by the latter
half of the twentieth century, she had disappeared
from all but the wealthiest of households.
This transformation in American domesticity
shifted the center of the home away from parlors
and dining rooms. Throughout the Victorian era,
kitchens had been seen as primarily o limits; a
strictly functional space relegated to the basement
or back of the house, to keep all practical and labor-
related activity away from guests and visitors.
But with the introduction of electricity and cook-
ing gas—and all the gadgets that utilize them—peo-
ple started seeing the kitchen as the mechanical
heart of the home rather than the origin of noise,
grease, and soot. The “electronic servants” that
replaced human labor were totems that symbol-
ized the rising auence of the boomer genera-
tion. The appliances transformed the kitchen
into a consumer showpiece for the new American
lifestyle. Walls that separated the kitchen were
removed, breakfast nooks added, and gleaming
Formica countertops installed to provide more
space for all the time-saving appliances eagerly
purchased by new homeowners. The kitchen began
to look less like a place of toil and drudgery and
more like a modern laboratory.

Few appliances have had as much an impact on
the quality, variety, and preservation of our food
than the modern refrigerator. Prior to mechani-
cal refrigeration, horse-drawn wagons delivered
ice to customers and the visits of the iceman were
as common as those of the postman. Zinc-lined
iceboxes held ice blocks in a top cabinet, allowing
the cold air to circulate down to the lower food
cabinet—a process that was only eective with the
frequent replacement of ice. Temperature consist-
ency was impossible. Drip trays needed empty-
ing often. With the invention of the refrigerator,
however, the ice industry withered and our rela-
tionship to fresh food was forever changed by the
availability of unlimited cold air.
A home refrigerator had been available from
General Electric as early as 1911, but it remained
little more than a modern marvel for many years
after. By the 1920s, brands like Kelvinator and
Frigidaire were beginning to mass-produce refrig-
erators, but their high price tag kept them out of
most American kitchens. The least expensive
model cost an exorbitant $300 at a time when a
Model T could be had for the same money. In 1927,
General Electric decided to lease its Monitor Top
refrigerator through utility companies for an extra
189

Print ad for General
Electrics Monitor Top
Refrigerator, 1930

General Electric’s
Monitor Top Refrig-
erator, introduced in
1927
Use Me: The Evolution of Branding Appliances
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