A recent news item in the UK told of a lady who was selling her collection of teasmade machines, those wonderful gadgets you kept by the bed to wake you with the alarm and a fresh pot of tea. The woman has amassed over 170, most of which still work.
Popular in the 1960s and 1970s, we never owned one, the main reason being we don’t drink tea; the other being back in the mid 1970s, the house Dave and I lived in was without central heating. He had to be in work for 6:00 am so an early alarm was necessary. Rather than shiver my way downstairs to make him a drink before he left home, I would keep a kettle, mugs, coffee and a jug of milk (which sometimes froze over) by the bed, and simply leaned across to flick on the kettle when the alarm clock rang. Thank goodness those days are gone.
The article bought to mind other gadgets that were about way back then, many of which have fallen by the wayside or left shoved in the back of a cupboard somewhere. My mother worked full time and with a household of six, anything to make cooking easier and quicker was obviously worth investing in. One I remember well was the chip slicer. As a child I was never strong enough to work the heavy metal lever, but often had to wash-up the thing.
Another was the Chopamatic – supposedly to make chopping onions quicker and easier. Rarely did the contraption work, often becoming jammed in the onion on the first strike; and what a performance to clean afterwards. Yet, surprisingly, there are still modern versions of these about, not that I’ve bothered to buy one, managing well enough with a sharp knife.
Two gadgets were designed specifically to hang on the wall – the Caddy-matic, used to store and deliver the right about of tea leaves per person at the push of the button, and wall-mounted weighing scales. These were both useful and convenient, until one time too much was put on the scales and the weight pulled the screws out of the wall. It was like something out of a snowglobe as flour covered every surface in the kitchen. Oops!
Then there was the bread slicer. Although ready-sliced bread, such as Wonderloaf and Sunblest, were familiar and great for making toast but bland and cloying used for sandwiches, we always had a crusty loaf that needed slicing. The bread slicer was used to also slice bacon, beef and even hard cheese. I had one for many years but it took up a lot of space, and I was always frightened my daughter would cut herself on it, so out it went, to be replaced with an electric carving knife which I still use to carve the Sunday joint.
There are no doubt many other gadgets we all had at one time. Which ones do you still have or even still use?