Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Fridge

If you were born before 1940, someone you knew still used a real ice box, the kind that held a large square of ice (straight from a real ice house) that kept cold, well sorta, the contents of an insulated metal box on legs. These were soon replaced with electric refrigerators, but for years after most folks still called the newfangled inventions “ice boxes.”

The fancy new fridges came with tiny compartments that held at least two heavy-duty aluminum ice cube trays and little else. The ice trays were a challenge, especially if encased in ice. Once released from the ice tomb, removing cubes from the tray was like removing a prehistoric mammoth from the Arctic. If the release mechanism was not operated properly, it was possible to launch ice cubes throughout the room.

This magical box also made frost around the ice compartment and defrosting became an all day event preceded by several days of “eating up the leftovers.” Depending on the time lapsed from the last defrosting, this was not a job for sissies. Pans of steaming hot water set under the ice/frost clump, ice picks, kitchen knives, screwdrivers, and even hammers, were used to break free large clumps of frost.

Some early refrigerators came with “refrigerator sets,” heavy-duty glass containers in clear or green glass. Sets usually included several sizes of storage containers and a special bottle so the happy owners could enjoy ice cold water. The water containers had a serious flaw in that they did not refill themselves and were often found on the top shelf with just enough water to cover the crumbs left by a previous sipper. Serious consequences could be imposed on the guilty one for not cleaning and refilling the bottle and “I’ll rip all the hair out of your head if you ever do this again!” often reverberated through the house. (Moms were much tougher in those days.)

Today’s modern marvels did away with all that fun. They have various compartments at just the right temperature for the contents and dispense filtered water and ice through the door. (Manual defrosting is unknown.) Some models even have sensors that read bar codes and let the owner know when it’s time to shop; some even connect to the Internet and place grocery orders. The irony is that most people are working long hours to pay for their fridges and are too tired to cook, so they eat out – all that money spent on a fridge to store soda, pizza poppers, and popsicles!

Sipping from the old water container has also been updated. An informal survey of secretive fridge behavior has revealed four out of five people squirt chocolate syrup directly into their mouths from the Hershey squeeze bottle, three out of five use their index finger to sneak a dollop of peanut butter, and when given the chance, all five lick the inside of the tops of ice cream containers!

Sigh. Modern appliances, primitive man.

P.S. Try this: a dollop of peanut butter in the mouth, then a big squirt of Hershey syrup. Ummmm, messy, but good. Just don’t tell anyone where you learned this!

© Copyright 2007 Suzzwords


  1. I don't have any fond memories about the Ice Box...I came a little later when the electric ones kicked in. I've always thought I missed out on a very cool pun intended.

    That secretive refrigerator behavior is a hoot. YIKES...who knows what could have been recorded.

  2. Anonymous12:37 AM

    That peanut butter/Hersheys syrup thing is a great idea! I have to make sure my hubby doesn't see me do it though; otherwise I'll never again have peanut butter on hand.

    I googled onto your blog via a 2005 entry about ripping labels from pillowcases. Love the writing!

  3. Am I right in thinking there was a Movie called "The Ice-man Cometh"?

  4. I don't get to this often at this point in my life but ........ iceboxes ae not among my memories! Thanks for that! lol

    Peter? The movie you mentioned was based on the Broadway play -- a drama by the great Eugene O'Neill.

    And Suzz? I thought I invented the peanut butter trick and (blush) still do it at this late date!!! It's

  5. Anonymous8:05 AM

    My "Ice man Commeth" was an old black man on a mule pulled wagon. A heavy tarp covered the huge squares of ice. He would chop the squares into the appropriate size for your ice box. We kids that gathered to watch got the slivers that were left over. A treat on a hot, summer day. Instead of fighting with the ice cube trays, now I fight with the purification cylinder that has to be changed every six months. AT THE BOTTOM OF THE FRIDGE.....SO HANDY.

  6. I was born in 1945, in Townsville, North Queensland - in Australia - and I clearly remember we had an 'ice-box' until well into the 1950s - mum even used to make icecream in it, and we kids got to meet the ice-man and lug the squares up our little lane.

    My favourite eat-from-the-spoon used to be condensed milk from the tin...

  7. Anonymous6:30 AM

    I clearly remember our ice box. It had a drip pan for the melting water and we could never go away over night except when the chunk of ice was nearly gone - otherwise, the drip pan would overflow and the kitchen become a swimming pool that sometimes seeped into the dining room.

    When I bought this apartment last year, it came with water and ice available through the door. I laughed when I first saw it. Who could possibly need such a silly and extravagant frill.

    I learned its joys now and it has a health advantage; I drink a lot more water when all I need do is shove a glass into the dispenser.

    Am I missing another joy in that I've never used my finger in the peanut butter jar? It's always been a spoon with me. However, I do drink directly from the orange juice carton - but I live alone so I guess it's not a social faux pas for me.