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Kitchen Appliances: The Manual Egg Beater, a Museum Piece

Patty collects recipes and gadgets from the past and is interested in early American history, the Civil War, and the 19th century.

the-manual-egg-beater-a-museum-piece

Old Gadgets Are Interesting

I thought I was getting old at about age 25 when I walked into the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and saw my mother's kitchen near the entrance, set up as an exhibit of "old days" kitchen décor and appliances.

After my pupils finished dilating and I stopped shuddering, I walked over and had a look. Same vinyl, chrome, and too-yellow wallpaper. No mistake in that.

Then I learned that the kitchen my mother had furnished and decorated in my childhood home was almost a direct copy of her own mother's and aunts' kitchens of the 1940s and 1950s, so I felt less ancient. The table and chair were still startling in their similarity, though.

Among the appliances in the Henry Ford kitchen exhibit was an old manual egg beater, much like the one my mother used. I'd learned to use one as well in high school cooking class, where we were taught about electric mixers and manual egg beaters "in case the power goes out." This was the same class that taught us that hot chocolate should be served with pizza - we never recovered from that one. But we did know how to use an egg beater in case we ever saw one.

The Eggbeater Museum

Darlene Gaglione and her husband operate the Eggbeater Museum and have also operated the Abracadabra Rubber Stamp Company in San Francisco. I recall purchasing some of their runner stamping products. They are now in New Mexico.

The Eggbeater Museum video footage below is from Lowbrowser and shot in San Francisco in 1986.

Darlene (Gaglione) is also a collector and archiver of everything Egg-Beaters (one of only 9 known collectors in the US), and her kitchen walls attest to that. From the first production egg-beater to a solid collection of child's play beaters, they are all represented here in all their one and two bladed glory!

The Abracadada Egg-Beater Museum

Not the egg beater I had in mind.

Not the egg beater I had in mind.

Culinary Tool Inventions

I've used electric mixers, hand held egg beaters, and a wooden spoon with a bowl; and I must say I prefer the bowl and spoon for any mixing or beating of the culinary kind. Like Alton Brown, I've always wanted to use the fewest pieces of equipment and make sure they are all multi-use items. I like to eat out of one bowl, so I'd like to cook with one container, too, although that is not always possible.

I'd also like a table top that disposes of your empty meal vessels when you're done eating -- Just press a button and the items vaporize. A vent overhead could collect the vapors and redirect them to some other appliance that might recycle them into other items.

We are headed in such a direction with the plastic water bottles made from corn that disintegrate easily in landfills or can be recycled. Taco salad bowls are made of taco shells and soup in a bread bowl is entirely edible, so we as a people are approaching cup and plate extinction to a small degree already.

People are calling the modern whisk an egg beater.

People are calling the modern whisk an egg beater.

Eggs Are Always Relevant

Regardless of inventions, we may always need something with which to beat eggs, whether it be a bowl and a fork, an egg beater, or a tightly covered mayonnaise jar that we can use to shake up the eggs.

We made butter in such a jar in the second grade, each child shaking the milk in the jar 10 times. At the last school desk in the last row, we had butter, although it was white. Then we boarded buses and went to visit the margarine and butter manufacturer in town to see the big process, including the coloring.

Many old devices have relied on a hand crank. These include the egg beater, the egg beater drill, the apple peeler, the ice cream maker, and even the early automobile.

According to Britannica,com under "Crank", the first hand crank appeared in China at the beginning of the 1st century AD.

US Patent Office Egg Beater Records

From the records of the U.S. Patent Office, we find that a manual or hand-cranked "Improved Egg Beater" that featured two synchronized counter-rotating whisks is listed under a patent held by a Mr. Turner Williams of Providence, Rhode Island. This was accomplished on May 31, 1870, the year my Grandfather was born, and patented as US Patent #103811.

This #103811 was not the first manual egg beater. It was a "better mousetrap" - an improvement on the previous single-whisk rotary egg beater. Now, whisks themselves are called egg beaters.

From the U.S. Patent Office Classification Index

"Egg"

  • Beater: Class 366, Subclass 343+
  • Breaker or cracker: Class 99, Subclass 568+

From all this information and patent searching, we find that the egg beater was likely invented for US patent purposes in 1856, but that over 1,000 patent applications for egg beaters were made that same year.

Antique egg beaters comprise a collectors' industry item as well. The Egg Beater Chronicles is a museum in a book that pictures dozens of egg beaters and discusses their invention and manufacture. This is a favorite book of mine and I use it often to show young people who have never seen a crank type beater.

At some point, I think we'll find a much older "ancient egg beater" from the American Colonies or the UK, or Egypt. Perhaps Leonardo DaVinci invented one as well.

Principals of Tools - Kitchen and Construction

This is an "egg beater" drill.  It has a hand crank, hense the nickname.

This is an "egg beater" drill. It has a hand crank, hense the nickname.

It has been several years since the shocking trip I made through the Henry Ford Museum, and I find myself anxiously awaiting the next opportunity to return.

Along with the peddle-operated sewing machines and the hand-crank calculators, I'll likely find an edition of my last computer. A future trip to the museum will be a golden opportunity to take a set of new photos.

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Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and Trivia

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on February 24, 2011:

I would not admit it, but I know the egg beather can be used in the garage for a drill...

Hello, hello, from London, UK on February 24, 2011:

I remember them well. My mum , when she baked acake, I had to beat the eggs. Whast a headache they were and tiresome.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 22, 2011:

Yes, that sounds like fun, Amanda!

Amanda Sarvis from Pennsylvania, USA on February 22, 2011:

Great hub! Brings back happy memories of playing with my mom's egg beater when I was little.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 22, 2011:

Thanks, wheelinallover! I really like all your comments; and thanks for reading.

Dennis Thorgesen from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on February 22, 2011:

I must be ancient, still have an use an egg beater, the chairs in the dining room could have come from any diner late forties early fifties and I still have a drill just like the last picture on this hub which is still my primary drill. I also still have an use a brace and bit. Everything but the egg beater were bought when my carpenter training started. My teacher believed if you could use non power tools effectively, you would be much more effective with power tools. So I learned to do everything well without power before I was trained with power tools. I don't remember ever having a power egg beater in the house though.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 22, 2011:

kashmir56 -- I remember another one I had -- It had a vertical wooden handle and a push apparatus on top. When you pushed it, it spun the beaters. Haven't seen one of those recently.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on February 22, 2011:

Hi Patty, Yep my mom had one of those egg beaters as well,i still have it today. Thanks for taking me back to the good old days !

Awesome hub and thumbs up !!!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 22, 2011:

Thanks Darlene and Bliss!

And the Dollar Store around the corner here still sells them. :) What fun. Would probably make a good conversation piece.

BlissfulWriter on February 22, 2011:

When I read the title "manual eggbeater", I knew exactly what it is and what it is looks like. I must be getting old. And then to find out that they are museum pieces. *sigh*

The younger folks probably never seen it before. So the pictures in this hubs would be enlightening to them.

Darlene Sabella from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ... on February 21, 2011:

What a crazy cool hub this is, and what a flashback, I remember my moms and I had one also when I first married...SO fun I love this up...rate up love & peace darski

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