There is a distinct possibility the stand mixer is the most useful appliance to be found in any kitchen, from the family kitchen to that found in the finest restaurants.
November 17, 1885, was a momentous day in the history of labor-saving kitchen appliances. On that day, inventor Rufus M. Eastman received the first patent issued for an electric mixer which could use mechanical power, water power, or electrical power.
African-American inventor Willie Johnson was responsible for the 1884 design of an eggbeater powered by a driving wheel in connection with an arrangement of gears and pulleys which turned a set of beaters, blades, or stirrers.
Appliance companies such as Bosch, KitchenAid, and Sunbeam were quick to expand upon Johnson’s idea, turning to the production of multipurpose kitchen gadgets.
The prototype electric mixers were anything but graceful; they were large and bulky and looked more at home in a factory than in the home kitchen. By the 1930s, at least a dozen companies were turning out electric mixers, of which the two best known were the Hobart/Kitchen/Aid and the Sunbeam Mixmaster.
The model M4A Sunbeam Mixmaster, first introduced in 1930, had a flowing silhouette in comparison to the ungainly outlines of its competitors. This sleek machine became so popular its name “Mixmaster” became synonymous with “stand mixer,” just as “Jell-O®,” “Kleenex®,” and “Band-Aid®” are to gelatin dessert, facial tissue, and any first-aid bandage.
The new stand mixer was not merely just a gadget to amuse a cook; rather, it was a composite of gadgets which were copacetic with one another. Sunbeam originally advertised the Mixmaster as capable of performing a variety of tasks, provided the appropriate attachments were available.
A craze for household mechanization began to sweep the nation in the late 1800s. Servants were leaving domestic service in droves to enter the general work force. The Depression and World War II disrupted life everywhere. Many domestic workers filled jobs in factories and such, which up to then, were held by the men who were off to war. Because of the perceived “servant shortage,” middle- and upper-class womanhood turned to do their own housework, especially in the kitchen. They were anxious to find kitchen appliances that could save time, money, and energy.
In 1908, engineer Herbert Johnson, president of the Hobart Manufacturing Company of Troy, Ohio, fabricated a device that could ease the workload wherever food was involved. After watching a baker using a metal spoon to mix bread dough, he tinkered around until he came up with a mechanical version; by 1915, Hobart’s 80-quart mixer was part of the standard inventory on all United States Navy vessels plus he had his foot in the door of many commercial bakeries.
By 1918, KitchenAid’s management was doing tasting trials in their own homes. The machines were such a success, legend has it, that one of the management’s wives gave it a glowing recommendation: “all I know is it’s the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had.”
By 1919, the Hobart Company had become KitchenAid and was merchandizing a “food preparer” (stand mixer) suitable for the home kitchen. It was very large at 65 pounds and very expensive: $189.50 (equivalent to around $2000 in the early 2000s). However, in 1936, industrial designer Egmont Ahrens trimmed down both the mixer’s size and especially its price tag to $55.
This new kitchen appliance was an adaptation of the 1908 commercial stand mixer and featured a groundbreaking design known as “planetary action;” the action blends the ingredients all the way to the edges of the bowl. The bowl never needs to be manually rotated.
Early sales of the KitchenAid mixer by retailers were rather slow. Perhaps the businesses were being overly cautious about a new and expensive appliance. Hobart/KitchenAid created a mobil work force, made mostly of women, to approach the public by door to door, demonstrating the wonders of the new food preparation tool. Perhaps KitchenAid thought a woman talking to another woman about this new product would be more of an intimate sales approach. The citrus juicer and food grinder attachments, first available in 1919, made the stand mixer even more attractive.
In 1937, KitchenAid introduced fully interchangeable attachments, a wise marketing ploy. The concept is still being utilized in the 21st century. For example, the 1919 pea shucker attachment, although not available anymore, will still fit today’s model.
The title of an “American Icon” has been conferred upon the KitchenAid stand mixer by the Smithsonian Institution Museum in Washington, DC, where the mixer is on display as an important force in American family life.
KitchenAid may have been the first group to manufacture the electric standing mixer but the greatest degree of consumer acceptance went to the Sunbeam Mixmaster, invented by Ivan Jepson. His Mixmaster was patented in 1928 and 1929, and was first mass- marketed in May, 1930.
Jepson was able to create a mixer for Sunbeam that sold for a fraction of the KitchenAid machine’s price. (In the early 1930s, the Sunbeam mixer retailed for a mere $18.25 [$240 in the early 21st century], as opposed to the hefty $189.50 for the KitchenAid.)
Jepson, a Swede, emigrated to the United States. Arriving in the country in 1925, he sought employment in Chicago, at the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, parent company to Sunbeam. The company expansion was for increased kitchen appliance production and Jepson became Sunbeam’s head designer by 1930.
By 1940, many years ahead of its time, Jepson’s Mixmaster was capable of a multitude of tasks: it could squeeze juice, shell peas, peel fruit, press pasta, grind meat, and grind coffee beans as well as open tin cans, sharpen knives, and polish silverware. It also had a mayonnaise oil dropper attachment, ostensibly controlling oil flow into the juicer bowl.
DID YOU KNOW?
When thick batter or dough crawls its way up toward the mixer head, “dough creep” occurs, possibly endangering the gears or potentially throwing dough or batter up and out of the bowl, splattering everything in sight. Apparently, the mixer has a mind of its own.
The mixer head (handle and motor) can be totally removed from the stand mixer, thus serving as a hand mixer.
The Chicago Flexible Shaft Company (parent company of Sunbeam) also made tools for grooming farm animals. Somehow, I don’t see the connection!
The KitchenAid “Artisan” stand mixer (probably KitchenAid’s most popular and least expensive model) comes in 22 distinct colors which are applied with a spray-on powder rather than paint.
The KitchenAid “Artisan” can be assembled by hand in the factory in a remarkable 26-second cycle.
The product name – “Mixmaster,” by Sunbeam, has become generic for all mixers.
In 1998, the U.S. Postal Service printed a series of stamps highlighting the most memorable trend of each decade of the 20th century. Mixmaster was chosen as the most authoritative image to represent the household conveniences of the 1930s.
Do not confuse mixers with blenders. They are two totally different devices. Blenders have sharp blades and usually work at faster rates which chop, liquefy, or fragment larger food items into smaller pieces; a mixer works much more slowly and has no blades.
Ice Cream Maker: Fits all KitchenAid stand mixers. Put the bowl in the freezer for 18 to 24 hours before the first use. It takes 30 minutes to make soft-serve ice cream; firmer consistency takes an additional 1 to 2 hours in the freezer. Makes up to 2 quarts.
Fruit and Vegetable Strainer: Can use only soft or precooked vegetables and fruits in this attachment. If seeds are too large to be processed properly, they will clog the screen. It is not recommended to attempt to strain blackberries,raspberries, and most grapes because of the seed problem. You do not have to peel or core your produce before putting it through the strainer; the strainer cone will separate the waste from the usable food. Pureed fruit or vegetables work their way down the strainer tray and waste is culled from the end of the strainer cone.
Pasta Roller Set: Fits all KitchenAid stand mixers. Consists of 3 pieces – a roller for kneading and rolling the fresh pasta to the desired thickness, a fettucine cutter to make strands of medium breadth, and a linguini fine cutter for still thinner noodles. They all easily attach and detach from the stand mixer’s hub. After use, it is suggested the attachment be air-dried and then gently whisked with a small cleaning brush in order to remove any dried-on dough that might be hiding from sight.
Accessory Pack with Roller Slicer/Shredder: Consists of a food grinder with both fine and coarse grinding plates. The grinder is able to process raw and cooked meats, cheeses, dried fruits, and firm vegetables; it attaches to the hub. A slicer/shredder comes with 4 chrome-plated steel cones (thin slicer and thick slicer, fine shredder, coarse shredder). These cones are capable of cutting large amounts of vegetables, including making hash browns, shoestrings, or scalloped potatoes. This attachment also fastens onto the power hub. Finally, the strainer attachment, which attaches over the grinder, strains and purees vegetables and fruits.
Can Opener: Effectively and safely opens virtually any size can. Attaches to the front of the mixer; fits all KitchenAid stand mixers.
Juice Extractor: Pulp and seeds are efficiently trapped in the stainer, leaving pure juice ready for consumption. Fastens to the front of the mixer.
Grain Mill: Great for making your own homemade breads, cereals, or tortillas. Low-moisture grains can be ground to any desired texture from fine to coarse; wheat, corn, and rice can give you a great variety of breads, Made of stainless steel, the grain mill attaches to the front of the mixer. To ensure lasting freshness, refrigerate ground grains promptly.
Pouring Shield: Reduces untidy spills with this hinged shield. Enables you to pour ingredients down the side of the mixing bowl without being hit with back splash.
Pasta Maker: Used in conjunction with the food grinder, separate grinding plates produce varying thickness of pasta. This attachment can create thick and thin spaghetti, flat noodles, lasagna, and macaroni. Included is a storage case to house the interchangeable pasta plates, bowl clips, and a cleaning tool.
Sausage Stuffer: Used together with the food grinder, this attachment easily produces fresh sausage from scratch. The smaller 3/8” tube makes small, breakfast-sized sausages and the larger 5/8” tube makes bigger variations such as Bratwurst, Knockwurst, Polish, and Italian sausages..
Other KitchenAid Attachments:
Apron with Detachable Towel
Dough Hook for Tilt-Head Mixer
Mixer Bowl Covers
Polished Stainless Steel Bowl for Tilt-Head Mixer
Stainless Steel Bowl with Handle
Stand Mixer Covers
Wire Whip for Tilt-Head Mixer
Sunbeam Mixmaster Attachments:
Extracting Fruit Juice
By: Terry Kaufman