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A view from the fridge

Hudson Cooper - Columnist
Posted 5/20/21

One of the all time classic American sitcoms was The Honeymooners which debuted in 1955. Way before television was in color, this black and white peek into the world of Ralph Kramden was a big hit in …

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A view from the fridge

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One of the all time classic American sitcoms was The Honeymooners which debuted in 1955. Way before television was in color, this black and white peek into the world of Ralph Kramden was a big hit in homes around the country.

Most of the action took place in what passed as a combination of a kitchen and living room. The furniture was sparse. A circular wooden table, a few chairs, a dresser, kitchen sink and an icebox. The icebox was unlike the portable container we use today to ice up drinks and food for a picnic.

When Ralph's upstairs neighbor, known as Norton, was hungry he helped himself to something in the Kramden's icebox. The Kramden's icebox was the precursor to what is in almost every kitchen today…a refrigerator.

Long before the refrigerator became an appliance in every home, it was invented for a totally different purpose. In 1844, John Corrie, a doctor in the United States, built a rudimentary machine to make ice to cool off yellow fever patients.

Then in 1857 James Harrison invented an ice making machine to keep meat and beer cold. That technology evolved into the first model of a home refrigerator. But it was the model introduced by Frigidaire that became the first affordable home refrigerator.

I consulted with Rodney Winters who years ago wrote the book “The Icebox Goeth” about the development of the refrigerator. The name Frigidaire was chosen after focus groups rejected names such as Chillybox, Coldstorage and Nippyaire.

Those early refrigerators gradually led to the disappearance of the icebox and eliminated the careers of the men that used to deliver blocks of ice to apartments and homes. The icebox and the delivery men became extinct soon after World War II when the ban on using metal for producing consumer goods ended.

If The Honeymooners was being filmed today, Norton would have a wide variety of chilled food to select from not just a plate of left-over meat loaf from an icebox. Buying a refrigerator today is almost as complicated as buying a car.

Over eight million are sold yearly in the United States. They come in three basic models with the top mount being the most popular. Most of you probably have that type with the freezer section mounted on top of the fresh food compartment. Sold on a smaller scale are the side-by-side and the bottom mount models.

Regardless of which model you choose, loading your food items requires an organized approach to make it efficient. Put this newspaper down for a minute and look in your refrigerator compartment. Note: You are probably better off ignoring your freezer for now since like most of us, you have frozen plastic bags of unknown food.

Someday you will clean out the freezer and discover those leftover chicken wings from the Super Bowl party you hosted in 1986. The Chicago Bears won that game, thanks in part, to the efforts of a defensive lineman named William Perry. Ironically due to his large body, he was known as “The Fridge.”

There are many ways to organize the main compartment of your refrigerator. Milk, juice, water and soda should be easy to reach on a top shelf. Vegetables get stored in the plastic bin called a crisper. Food items that are close to their expiration date should be placed in a container labeled “Consume Me First.”

It is best to have that container in a handy place. Since it contains food that even a hungry Norton would pass on, keeping that container within reach will make it easier to throw out those shriveled up Brussel sprouts, moldy salami and watery tofu.

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