1955 New Sunbeam appliances

In 1955, Sunbeam Australia launched their pop-up’ toaster, electric frypan and ‘Ironmaster’. The Sunbeam electric frypan, which became an essential in the 1950s suburban kitchen, was invented in the USA in 1953. Variations of the pop-up toaster had been around in the USA since the 1920s but became more popular with the widespread use of sliced bread.

In the post-war era, a woman’s place was definitely in the home. Her job was to raise children and keep her husband happy, assisted by a range of shiny new household appliances. Manufacturers, freed from the need to make military equipment, turned their thoughts to the rapidly expanding market for electrical goods.

The Sunbeam Corporation originated in Chicago, USA, as the Chicago Flexible Shaft Co., originally making mechanical horse clippers and sheep shearing machines. As early as 1902, it had an Australian branch.  In 1946, the company changed its name to Sunbeam and by 1948 had a manufacturing operation in Australia. The first pop-up toaster was patented in the USA in 1921 and Sunbeam was making their curvy T9 model there by 1937. However, World War II intervened and the T9 wasn’t launched in Australia until 1955.

The Sunbeam Controlled Heat Automatic Frypan was launched the same year. It was a square, cast-aluminium pan with a glass lid, a built-in heating element and a black plastic handle with heat control. Later models had non-stick surfaces and lids that came in trendy 1970s colours. The Frypan was designed for table-top cooking and serving.

Other appliance companies also began manufacturing in Australia. The Hotpoint name was first applied to a lightweight electric iron, patented in America in 1882. In 1918 the inventor joined the General Electric Company which began making a range of Hotpoint domestic appliances. ‘Hotpoint’ electric irons had been sold in Australia since around 1914 and from the late 1920s were manufactured in Australia by the Australian General Electric Co. Ltd.

In the 1950s, Hotpoint was promising that:  Hotpoint Electric Appliances take the work out of housework! … The Hotpoint housewife conserves her energy and has more time for pleasure…to play with the kiddies after school…to entertain…to enjoy happier living.

To appliance manufacturers in the 1950s, the concept of the working woman was unknown. And what woman wouldn’t welcome the gift of a frypan for Christmas?

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