The First Microwave Oven

A new era of microwave cooking was promoted with this Print ad for the Amana Radarange, 1967
Amana Radarange magazine ad, 1969.
Amana Radarange magazine ad, 1969. “It sizzles a hamburger in 60 seconds, does a 5-pound roast in 37-1/2 minutes…”

The first microwave was for home use was patented by Raytheon and licensed to the Tappan Stove Company in 1955. This version was impractical for home use since it was about the size of a refrigerator and weighed around 750 pounds. The 1955 price was $1,295 or around $10,500 in today’s dollars. Ratheon later purchased the Amana company and introduced the first practical home microwave oven in 1967. The 1967 price was $495, or the equivalent of around $3,200 today.

By the 1970s, microwave ovens gained acceptance and popularity, especially after Sharp introduced a lower cost version.

Cover of The New Magic of Microwave Cookbook by Magic Chef, 1978
“The New Magic of Microwave Cookbook” by Magic Chef, 1978

Quick, horrible microwave cooking

Microwave cooking was still a bit of a mystery in the early 70s. Housewives (as they were called then) flocked to microwave cooking classes and created meals in a fraction of the time required by conventional cooking methods. Unfortunately, their families were subjected to pale chicken, gray steaks and roasts and an assortment of foods that were quick but horrible to eat. Cookbooks like “The New Magic of Microwave Cookbook” by Magic Chef (1978) and “Madame Benoit’s Microwave Cook Book” (1975) graced every home kitchen with news ways to lose your appetite.

It didn’t take long for people to realize that microwave ovens were ideal for reheating, melting, and softening foods. Today, it is nearly impossible to find a kitchen without a microwave oven. Fortunately, we have learned that the browning and caramelization of foods through the Maillard reactions are best left to ovens, stoves and grills.

Toshiba Microwave Oven TV Commercial, 1983

Cooking with a Microwave Oven – Frigidaire

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