Week 3 Blog

Who’s yer cabinet?

A husband was overheard saying, “What do you mean, who’s yer cabinet?” to the wife as they were shopping an antique store recently. The wife instantly began laughing, and even the gentleman working the front counter laughed. Once the wife was able to contain her laughter, she told him that it was a Hoosier Cabinet, not a who’s yer cabinet! If you are wondering (like the husband) why a cabinet has the name Hoosier, it is because most bakers’ cabinets were built in the state of Indiana. (Indiana is also known as the Hoosier state)
In the 1800’s, homes did not have built-in kitchen cabinets, instead, homeowners had pieces of furniture that went with them when they moved to a new house. If the homeowner did not know how to make cabinets, then they had to purchase them. In 1898, the Hoosier manufacturing company saw an opportunity to build a cabinet for the kitchen that would greatly help the home baker. A Hoosier or baker’s cabinet is a freestanding workstation that stored ingredients and equipment for food preparation. This workstation type of cabinet meant that the home baker had everything that was needed to prepare food all in one place. Hoosier cabinets had a pull-out counter/workstation, bins for dry ingredients like flour and sugar, and shelves to store mixing bowls, utensils, and canisters. Canisters were used to store salt, herbs, and spices, and then could be set onto the shelf of the new cabinet. In the late 1800’s, convenience, or pre-packaged food as we know it today had not been invented, meaning if one wanted bread for example, it had to be made at home. Women would spend hours each day preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner for their families, and the Hoosier cabinet made food preparation easier. By 1920, the Hoosier manufacturing company had sold more than 2 million cabinets, meaning that 10% of the households in the United Stated had a Hoosier cabinet in their kitchen. The end of World War II meant millions of war veterans were coming home, and they were ready to start a family. The government offered affordable housing loans to returning vets, thus prompting a housing boom. The new houses went up quickly and had built-in kitchen cabinets, eliminating the need for a Hoosier cabinet. The Hoosier manufacturing company sold in 1942, and production of the Hoosier cabinet ceased.
There is a popular saying that food is the way to the heart, so it is not surprising that a cabinet for food preparation that was displayed in the heart of the home had become so popular. Kitchens play a big role in everyday life, from morning coffee to that late night snack, it seems we are always heading in to or out of the kitchen. Open concept kitchens are popular more now than ever, as it allows the one that is cooking can be a part of the fun. The trend in new kitchen design is open cabinets that allow the homeowner to display colorful or seasonal vignettes. Many homeowners opt to pull in vintage kitchen items to display like colorful Pyrex bowls, wooden rolling pins, an old food scale, and old measuring cups that remind of baking cookies and cupcakes with mom or Grandma. Dry food storage like pasta, beans, flour, sugar, etc., is very pretty when displayed in vintage blue mason jars from an antique store. It’s funny that as kitchens have modernized, the purpose of the kitchen has remained the same; to store, prepare, and serve food, to the family.

This business is a member of