THE BATTLE OF THE BLENDER’S ORIGIN:
BY: BURT DACHSHUND
(The CVLT of BVRT)
Unless you’re a smoothie freak, or happen to have a passion for pina coladas, a blender is probably the least used of your small kitchen appliances; but the story behind the bland appliance is far from basic…
You may take for granted the clunky, metal, bladed, kitchen aid found stuffed in the back of some storage cabinet with the Mr. Tea Machine and that vintage pecan chopper that belonged to your grandmother that we commonly refer to as the “Blender”. Well, I wish I had a list of amazingly interesting facts to change your mind right here in front of me…
Unfortunately, I can’t say that I came up with much other than the battle of the beginnings, as I like to call it. Because, Yes! There is an ongoing battle between blender brands that is still undecided to this day. Here’s the story….
First of all, I hate to ramble; nevertheless, it is rather important to the story that I preface with a little background on the Hamilton Beach Co. So, here we go…
A Brief Bit of History -
In the early 1900’s two engineers from Racine, Wisconsin, Chester Beach and Frederick Osius, along with a friend who worked as a marketing agent, Louis Hamilton, changed the face of kitchen utensils when they invented a small motor that was capable of running off of either AC or DC electric power. Quickly after the invention of the new motor, the trio released to the public their first new product utilizing the new motor… An Electric Handheld Massager. After the release, the trio decided to form a new company solely for the purpose of developing new electric inventions that they could power with their new motor. Thus, The Hamilton Beach Co. was founded.
Now, this is an important point in this whole story… Notice that the company includes the names of both Chester Beach and Louis Hamilton, but lacks the inclusion of Frederick Osius. I can’t find any details as to how the company was founded specifically; nevertheless, It is an interesting fact considering how this tales turns out….
A Blender is Born -
Now, let’s jump forward in time a bit to 1922 where we find Stephan Poplawski, owner of Steven’s Electric Company, invents the worlds first blender. It’s the, literal, first time that blades are attached to a motor for the purpose of blending, and mixing food products. The company produced these new “Blenders”, and sold them, predominately, to drug store soda fountain shops for the purpose of making their popular malt milkshakes.
A year later, in 1923, the Steven’s Electric Company improves on their invention and releases the first “Liquefying” blender.
From this point, all the way up to the mid 1940's… we don’t hear a lot more about Stephan Poplawski, or the Steven’s Electric Company. We can find several models of blenders including some of the larger models manufactured for soda fountain shops, as well as smaller household models. A simple search of Ebay, or Etsy, for Steven’s Electric blenders will usually land you around 3 or 4 models up for sale, if not even more.
Now, I can’t say if their were any smaller, mom and pop companies that locally produced a similar invention throughout the times, and if so, how many were made or sold. Nevertheless, from what we can find, it appears that the Steven’s Electric Company was the sole producer of the blender from the early 20’s all the way to the mid 30’s; however, in 1936, our old friend Frederick Osius from the Hamilton Beach trio, decides to try and improve on Poplawski’s blender.
Osius’s “Miracle Mixer” -
Being a lifelong engineer, and also the co-inventor of the motor that actually powers the device, Frederick Osius attempts and succeed’s in improving on the current blender of the times. With his newly improved appliance, that he has begun to refer to as the “Miracle Mixer”, Osius is now on the search for investors to back him in starting a new appliance company to sell his new mixer.
The first person Osius approaches as a potential investor is, popular orchestra leader of the time, Fred Waring. You see, Fred suffered from stomach ulcers and had been prescribed a special diet by his doctor which included a large percentage of raw vegetables. Being a fan of new inventions, Fred was a huge fan of the blender which he used to puree the raw vegetables required by his special diet for easier consumption. When approached by Osius about becoming an investor in his new model of blender… Fred was on board 100%. For the record, we have to remember that Osius is the co-inventor of the already super successful motor used to power, not only the blender, but many new kitchen appliances and gadgets. Taking that into consideration, i’m sure Mr. Waring felt pretty safe in making the investment in him.
Now, with his new mixer, and the backing to start the production and sale it… Osius sets out and opens the Waring Co., named after primary investor, Fred Waring. The mixer he had referred to as the “Miracle Mixer” was also released; but, under it’s new name “The Waring Blender”. Debuting in 1937, the new Waring Blender sold for $29.75, and became the new kitchen appliance craze. By 1954, over one million Waring Blenders had been sold all over the country.
Oster Expands -
Also looking to benefit from the new found popularity of kitchenware gadgets was a small business owner, again from Racine, Wisconsin, named John Oster. Founder of The John Oster Manufacturing Co., known for their popular line of Barber Shears, Oster was looking at expanding his business and branching out into the market of small kitchen appliances. In 1946, Oster purchased the Steven’s Electric Company, along with all their products and patents. Along with the company was it’s patent for the original blender.
Soon after the acquisition of the Steven’s Electric Company, Oster released their version of the popular kitchen appliance under their new series of kitchenware products which they sold under the brand “Osterizer”.
Final Thoughts -
From there, it’s gets pretty complicated…. Sunbeam eventually buys Oster, other companies buy other companies, and who knows what goes to who’s credit, and yeah…
The problem lies in the fact that the Waring Blender often refers to itself as being the manufacturer of the first blender. Oster also brings a claim to the table due to their ownership of the original patent on the blender. Steven’s Electric Company, was the inventor and original owner of the patent, but had sold all rights to Oster, should receive some credit, right?
I’m sure there’s not a lot of “blender specific” collectors or fans out there, or… maybe there is. Who knows? But, for those who have never given it much thought, which company should receive the title of original blender, is actually a “thing” in the blender world.
Personally, I give credit to Poplawski. He actually made the thing after all!
Let me know your thoughts on blenders, the history of the appliance, or how you have used one in decorating your home by commenting on this article.
(The Cvlt of Bvrt)
You can also check out all the vintage / retro items from the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s currently up for sale in The Cvlt of Bvrt Etsy shop!!!