The slow cooker, a kitchen appliance commonly called “Crock Pot,” is an appliance that really served many busy households well. When cooking savory meals might be impossible given your tight schedule, the slow cooker is there to serve you and your hungry tummy a tasty dinner when you get home. Here’s a short backstory for this convenient appliance.
History of Slow Cookers and Crock-Pots
The roots of the Crock-Pot trace back to the Jewish practice of honoring the Sabbath. Irving Naxon, the inventor of the first ancestor of the modern slow cooker, grew up listening to his mother telling stories about a bean-based stew called cholent. As his mother told him, Jewish women in a Lithuanian village assembled meat, vegetables, beans, and potatoes in pots and brought them to the local bakery every Friday evening. After the bakery’s ovens were turned off during the start of Sabbath, she will place a pot of cholent inside to be cooked using the residual heat so it would be ready-to-eat after the end of Sabbath services.
Naxon used this idea to create his invention. In 1936, he filed for a patent for a portable food heating device that has a cooking vessel in a built-in case with a heating element for even heating of food He was granted the patent in 1940, and named the device the “Naxon Beanery” It was sold to the public in the 1950s.
In the early 1970s, Rival Manufacturing bought Naxon’s design and rebranded the Beanery as Crock-Pot. When it was introduced, it included its own Crock-Pot specific cookbook and was available in different colors: avocado, harvest gold, and copper.
The slow cooker was initially marketed for working mothers, as more and more women were entering the workforce. The Crock-Pot easily became a hit few years after its market launch, with a $2 million in sales during its first year of introduction in 1971 to a whopping $93 million by 1975.
The popular slow cooker brand has been under a series of acquisitions. Rival was bought by the Holmes Group in 1999. Holmes was then sold to Jarden Corporation in 2005. Now, Crock-Pot is manufactured by Sunbeam Products, a subsidiary of Jarden.
By the mid-70s, competitors had inevitably sprung out as appliance makers sold slow cookers of their own. There were about 20 different slow cooker brands in the market back then, and most have gone by the wayside and are no longer being produced.
Sales of slow cookers, including Crock-Pots, declined by the end of the ‘70s until the ‘80s, most probably because microwave ovens are getting popular. But during the turn of the new century, the demand for slow cookers rose again. The sales of the slow cooker in 2014 doubled the record in 2002. Modern slow cookers have become more versatile, with a removable crock as one major improvement. The device now also comes with digital and automated controls and better locking mechanisms for easy transport.
Benefits of slow cookers
While the slow cooker isn’t great for every cooking task, it has many significant advantages that make it worthy to be a staple in every kitchen:
1. Makes delicious and nutritious meals
Because slow cookers cook the food at a low temperature for a long period of time, the nutrition-rich, natural juices from meat and vegetables are retained, bringing more flavor to the dish. The extended cooking time also allows for better distribution of flavors.
Slow cooking is also considered as a safer and healthier way to cook, as high-temperature cooking causes the food to lose the majority of its nutrients and makes digestion difficult. Cooking at low temperature releases natural broth or stock in meat, which promotes strong bones, inhibits infection and reduces joint pain and inflammation.
For a lot of recipes, the slow cooker can be left unattended for hours. All you have to do is to put in recipe ingredients in the port before going to work and you can come home to a hearty, home-cooked meal. The slow cooker is perfect for busy individuals who have no time preparing and watching over food to be cooked.
With a slow cooker, you also don’t need to scrub a lot of pots and pans. Except for the cutting board, cutting utensils, and maybe a pan if you need browning – all you’ll ever gonna clean is one pot.
3. Saves money
Since a slow cooker can tenderize tougher and less desirable cuts of meat, which are less expensive, using this for cooking can save you some bucks. Slow cooking can even make even the cheapest piece of meat shine.
It also uses less energy than a standard electric oven.
Besides dinner, soups, and stews, tons of recipes can be made out of using slow cookers. It can cook desserts as well. Slow cookers can also be used for non-food items such as making soap or candles and dyeing yarn (just make sure you use a separate one for food, though).