The recent boom in household culinary practices, with confectionery at the head of the pack, has caused many of us to reconnect with our inner chef. This rediscovery has not only caused the consumption of eggs and flour to skyrocket, but has also made us aware of the role that small household kitchen appliances play in our daily chores. Given that we use these gadgets on a daily basis, we usually forget about the intellectual backdrop that goes into them and simply assume that they have always been around. That, however, is not the case.
For that reason, this ABGstories would like to pay homage to one of the most important allies of people everywhere: the beater. Whether you prefer salty to sweet (or vice versa), your inner “kitchen whizz” would not be the same without it. If the greatest pleasures are brought by the simplest things, this pleasure increases two-fold when human ingenuity steps in to make life easier.
Hell kitchen pioneers
Though it seems impossible to believe, there was a time when humanity had to resort to mortars and pestles to grind, mix and bind ingredients together. This method was as manually taxing as it was long. As we have already seen in previous editions of our ABGstories, we had to wait until the 19th century to solve this problem.
In December of 1856, American Ralph Collier set an incredible precedent with the patent for the first rotary egg beater (US 16267A). The creation began a trend straightaway on both sides of the Atlantic. Improvements to Collier’s invention did not take long to emerge.
Between 1857 and the end of the 19th century, multiple updated beaters were patented and put on the market. The most remarkable one came about in 1885, invented by Rufus Eastman (US 330829A), who is considered the father of the first beater with an electric motor. Thanks to the innovative addition, the gadget’s array of possibilities was expanded to working with other ingredients such as butter, cream, yeast or liquors. The beater went from being the queen of sauces to being the queen of pastries.
Undoubtedly, Americans were well in the lead on the “beaten path” throughout the beginning of the 20th century. After the 1920s, the first household stand mixers began to pop up in kitchens across the US.
The overwhelming success of the KitchenAid® model, previously patented in 1918 by Herbert Johnston and Thomas F. Rataiczak (US 1264128A), encouraged average citizens to emulate the best chefs, bakers and pastry chefs from all over the country in the privacy of their own homes.
A few years later, Stephen Poplawski put in his two cents for the development of the apparatus. With the preparation of drinks in mind, the inventor created the first electric liquidiser (or blender) with blades at the base of the container in 1923 (US 1475197A).
The European touch
With the onslaught of proposals coming out of the US, the pressure was on European innovators to respond…although, however, they began to do so within the borders of the United States.
Ivar Per Jepson spread the design excellence of his native Sweden before half the population on Earth could furnish their homes with tables and screws whose names I can never remember. The engineer emigrated to the land of opportunity in 1925, and in less than five years he was the father of the first electric stand mixer with two removable beating arms and interlinking blades (CA 358295A).
The great European comeback took place in the second half of the 20th century with the arrival of the hand-held beater.
Swiss native Roger Perrinjaquet became a hit with his portable version, which was given the name Bamix (from French “battre et mixer”) in 1950 (CH 288357A). The case of the Swiss inventor is quite similar to that of Ralph Collier.
While his household appliance became an inspiration in all of Central Europe, other countries and geographic areas such as the United States (US 2804290A of 1957) or Southern Europe opted for putting on the market versions that they themselves updated.
Spain is different
Enric Berrens was a Catalan engineer who in the 1940s decided to sell products from the Swiss company Turmix in Spain. Shortly after that, through Swiss licences, he began to manufacture products within Spain. The Spanish-Swiss alliance was renamed several times until, in 1945, Berrens founded Pimer. The company was a model for the Spanish household appliance sector, but over time, it had to upgrade its offer. The Turmix beater, the star of the catalogue, needed to be renewed.
Pimer commissioned this task to a young industrial designer named Gabriel Lluelles Rabadá, who, in 1959, presented the first electric hand-held beater with all its components manufactured in Spain, the Minipimer MR1.
The product was so successful that not only were millions of units sold in Spain between the 60s and 80s, but it ended up becoming one of the most significant cases of brand vulgarization in Spanish culture for several decades.
As a result, the disciple Lluelles surpassed the master Perrinjaquet and continued to improve on household appliances such as coffee grinders, juicers, toasters or hair dryers until he retired in 1988. (ES 2004942A; ES 164791U; ES 28991U).
So you see…with patents and designs the same happens as with the best parties: they all end up in the kitchen.