History and Innovation: From electric Icebox to Spherical Ice. Refrigerators from Yesterday to Today.

We take refrigerators for granted now (except when they fail), but when they were new, they were a revelation! Imagine having to store your perishable goods in the coolest part of your home. I know in my house in the summer in Seattle, coolest spot that I would find would be in the upper 60s likely in my crawlspace. That is not very convenient or sanitary, and don’t get me started on the spiders.

Ice block cutting operation

Let’s start off with the need for ice. While we think of ice as an addition to beverages, in the late 19th century, ice was required for your ice box to keep your perishables cool. Now, this ice was not the cleanest ice, as it was from lakes and ponds where there was massive contamination from manufacturing processes in the area. Ice brokers would also try to extend their haul of ice by drilling holes in the ice, allowing water to bubble up through the already frozen ice and refreezing it on top to make thicker blocks that would sell for more money. What this also did was trap dirt, leaves and other contaminants in the middle of the ice.  We are going to skip the creation of the freezer since we already know that exists and talk about one of the newest innovation in ice. Round ice from LG!

LG’s craft ice will produce the round balls of ice that you would get in your cocktails from the fanciest bar in town. Now, as you can see in the video above, the round ice can be used in cocktails, lemonade (although you would have a hard time convincing me that those ladies didn’t slip a little something extra in there) and chocolate milk for the kids! While round ice is fun and unique, is it really any better than traditional ice cubes or chips? It is! The less surface area that is exposed to the liquid in the drink allows the round ice to melt more slowly, therefor keeping what is in your glass cooler without watering it down. Neat!  LG 23 cu. ft. Smart wi-fi Enabled InstaView™ Door-in-Door® Counter-Depth Refrigerator with Craft Ice™ Maker

Yes, this really happened!

Frigidaire has always been known for quality and nothing has changed on that front. In 1939, to prove the strength and quality of their refrigerator, they enlisted a 4 ton elephant to stand on top of the refrigerator. It worked. There was no damage to the refrigerator and their stunt appeared in newspapers across the country. This was huge at the time as refrigerators were becoming very popular and the first built in freezer in a separate compartment would come out in that year, so the market was very competitive. This gave Frigidaire a leg up and got them the publicity they were looking for.

Today, Frigidaire still has great quality refrigerators at great price-points. This stainless steel refrigerator has a 27.6 cu. ft interior with French door styling and ice in the freezer. Frigidaire 27.6 Cu. Ft. French Door Refrigerator

GE advertisement from the 1950s.

In the 1950’s things got interesting. Freon was introduced in the 1920’s as a less toxic refrigerant, built-in freezers caught on in the 1940’s and in 1950, we saw refrigerators come out in colors, wild design elements, moving shelves, built in ice makers and automatic defrosters. When you think back on refrigerators at this time, and most appliances, you will think of colors and shapes that made the kitchen. Take for example the iconic GE refrigerator you see below. In that iconic 1950’s turquoise, what a way to define an era in the kitchen.

Now, we are seeing a lot of these same designs and colors from manufacturers like SMEG, from Italy and Big Chill, from Colorado. They give you the benefit of coordinating your refrigerator to your kitchen accent colors. SMEG ’50s Style No Frost’ Fridge-Freezer, Red, Right Hand Hinge, 60 cm (Approx 24″).

Big Chill Pro Fridge in Premium Beige Red

In the 1960’s we do not see a lot of mechanical innovation in refrigerators, but we do see a huge shift in color. You all know what I am talking about. Harvest Gold, Avocado and Coppertone (brown). These colors survived for decades and I am pleased to say you can still get a refrigerator in that color! Now, it is not going to come straight from the factory in Harvest Gold, but a lot of manufacturers are offering custom colors. These colors are picked from the RAL color chart and include hundreds of variations. So fear not! Harvest Gold will be in kitchens again! This time we call it daffodil Yellow, or RAL 1007. This color can be ordered on any Big Chill refrigerator, range or hood. You can contact one of our Metropolitan Appliances experts to chat about Big Chill appliances at 206-623-8811.

In the 1980’s, it was SubZero’s time to shine. After decades and decades of building built-in refrigerators, the 80’s was all about decadence and utility and the SubZero brand offered both. SubZero refrigerators are design with a dual compressor. What that means is that your refrigerator air will keep hydrated for proper preservation of your fresh foods and your freezer air will stay nice, dry and separate from that kimchi smell in your refrigerator portion. No more kimchi ice! (You can tell I might have had this issue.)

SubZero advertisement from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s.

While SubZero may be decadent, they are really worth while in terms of cost of preserved food and length of use. It is rare that we see people replace their SubZero units unless they are about 25 years old. Boasting a panel ready design where you can have your cabinet maker design a panel that will fit it, the refrigerator will blend into your kitchen seamlessly with a high end look.

You can browse our selection of SubZero refrigerators on our site here [insert link: https://www.metropolitanappliance.com/_CGI/SEARCH3.HTML?MAN=SUBZ&MAJOR=REF ] .

As we wrap this up, the last few decades, we have seen wi-fi connectivity (send alerts to an open door, or mechanical problem), family hub screens that display daily agendas, weather and news, measured water dispensation, hot water dispensation and coffee pod makers just to name a few. We do not expect this innovation to end anytime soon. Sure, trends will change, for example we are seeing fewer companies adding video screens to their refrigerators now, but Metropolitan Appliance will be on top of them and our fantastic team of local and professional sales staff will be just the right people to help you keep abreast of what is new.

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