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September 12, 2012

Wondering Wednesdays – Pie Oven Guards And An Enormous Microwave

By RetroRuth

Welcome to another fun Wondering Wednesday, where everyone sends me their crazy mid-century stuff or questions and I try to make sense out of it. This week we have kind of a fun email from Eartha Kitsch that she answered herself before I even got to post it!

Eartha writes:

Hey Ruth,

I’m attaching some photos of a pair of items that I need help identifying. You might know what these are right away and the mystery will be solved! If not, can you run them by everyone?

A nice couple that I know went to settle up a late relative’s estate and they brought back lots of cool vintage items for me. These were among them and neither they nor I can figure out what they are! Are they baking pans of some sort? Or are they a part of something else that is now missing?

They’re aluminum (I’m guessing) and very thin. They have raised openings in the middle and measure 12" across with the middle openings being about 4" across. I know that there were a lot of beautiful decorative and functional aluminum pieces made in the 50’s that look a lot like these – but am dying to know what these were made for….and why the holes in the middle?

Any help appreciated! : )


Eartha K.

Pie Pans

Pie pans again

Well, we had all just started guessing, when Eartha sent me another email!

My Mom figured out what those metal pans were! They’re drip pans for pies. The hole is underneath so that the heat distributes properly in the center of the pie. Here is a newer version:

Pie Pan Modern

Who the heck knew? Well, not me. That’s for sure!

Thank your Mom for us, Eartha, because I totally had no idea what those were and now I am just that much smarter. Awesome!

We also got an email recently from Philip, who writes:

Any clue what this is?

fridge (2)

I named the photo Fridge but I don’t have a clue.

Looks like it might be GE from the logo on the unit.

Is it an oven with a toaster over or microwave? A freezer?

Any help would be great!!

Thanks for the fun question, Philip! I am not 100% on this, but I believe that that is an early microwave. After a little bit of internet sleuthing, I found your picture on a defunct website with this information:

In 1945 Percy Lebaron Spencer, an American engineer and inventor, was busy working on manufacturing magnetrons, the devices used to produce the microwave radio signals that were integral to early radar use. Radar was an incredibly important innovation during the time of war, but microwave cooking was a purely accidental discovery.

While standing by a functioning magnetron, Spencer noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. His keen mind soon figured out that it was the microwaves that had caused it, and later experimented with popcorn kernels and eventually, an egg, which (as we all could have told him from mischievous childhood ‘experiments’), exploded.

The first microwave oven weighed about 750lbs and was about the size of a fridge.

That seems about right to me! Thanks for the fun questions, guys!

Have a crazy contraption or a weird piece of Mid-Century fun? Want to know where to find some vintage bits and pieces? Have a design question? Send them all to me at ruth@nopatternrequired.com and we will help you out!

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2 Responses to Wondering Wednesdays – Pie Oven Guards And An Enormous Microwave

  1. Martha Reply

    September 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I have one of these, and I love it. I inherited it from my mom. She baked wonderful pies, and this was part of her pie baking equipment. My sister inherited the other one, so if I bake more than one at a time, I have to put one of them on a cookie sheet, which doesn’t work nearly as well.

    I guess they don’t make them anymore because so few people bake their own pies.

  2. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    September 12, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I still need to bake a pie with those babies! And wow…that microwave!! Not exactly a space saver!

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