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Kitchen Appliances in the 1940s

Michelle Powell-Smith

Kitchen designs in the 1940s featured stoves, broilers and ovens, refrigerators instead of iceboxes, and small appliances to make baking and other food preparation tasks easier. New technology made appliances more reliable and easier to use. Smart design and layout made the kitchens of the 40s a pleasant and practical place to cook.


Kitchens of the 1940s offered new appliance options.

Stoves and ovens of the 1940s range from 30 inches to 40 inches wide, depending upon the space available in the kitchen, and were available in both gas and electric versions. Narrower models were used in apartment kitchens, while a larger and more luxurious home kitchen might have a wider and more feature rich stove and oven. Simple models included four burners, one oven, and a broiler. Deluxe stoves had between four and six burners and may have had a built-in griddle. Two ovens and broilers allowed multiple dishes to cook at different temperatures. Storage drawers and folding utility shelves were common.


The refrigerators of the 1940s were available with freezers on the top or bottom. Larger refrigerators had a two-door configuration, while smaller ones had a single door with a freezer compartment. Most refrigerators, like the stoves and dishwashers of the 1940s, were white. Shelves, drawers and even rotating lazy Susans made the space usable and kept the '40s refrigerator well organized.


The modern, front-loading dishwasher with a drying element was designed in 1940. Earlier dishwashers loaded from the top, rather than the front. Most '40s kitchens didn't contain this labor-saving device, but modern, front-loading dishwashers do appear in some kitchen ads of the period.

Small Appliances

One small appliance appears in nearly every kitchen advertisement from the 1940s. The stand mixer replaced the old fashioned wooden spoon or manual egg beater and made baking tasks, ranging from homemade cookies to fresh baked bread faster, easier and neater. Many '40s kitchens incorporated baking centers with space for a stand mixer, storage for baking pans and even bins for flour, sugar and other ingredients.