Cultural Significance

More interesting facts:

  • It is argued that the microwave oven is among the greatest inventions of the 1900’s. The microwave makes cooking “easier, better…and provided a technological platform and created new industry”.[1]

  • The microwave is considered to be a “kitchen VIP”[2] a Very Important Piece of equipment. Most individuals can’t imagine their kitchens without a microwave oven.[3]

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    Between 1975 and 1987 the number of married women in the work force grew from 40% to 53%[4]. This increase made labor-saving and time-saving appliances such as the microwave important in the lives of working women. Numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between working married women and microwave sales. Microwave cooking makes for faster and easier to clean up meals, ideal for the working woman. In the advertisement shown above, you can see how this company was marketing the microwave to women, stressing quick meals and saving time.

    Studies show that as the female work force increased the consumption of frozen rather than fresh foods due to convenience.[5] The increased consumption of the microwave led to the creation of new industries. A direct correlation existed between the increase in sales of the microwave oven and an increase in the processed food industry. Pre-cooked meals and snacks like microwavable popcorn and microwavable dinners became popular for people on the run.

    To this day, microwaved foods are still a very important part in our diets! It is pretty common knowledge that restaurant chains rely on microwaves to produce food for the masses. It is impossible to have enough chefs in every kitchen in every restaurant to provide enough food for every person who wants to visit that restaurant. For this reason chains such as Olive Garden rely on microwaves to produce enough food to meet the demand (now you will think twice before spending $16 on a plate of microwaved food!! –but probably not…)!

    Below are video advertisements from the 1980’s (notice the emphasis on saving time)!

    Image and Video Sources can be viewed HERE


    [1] “Blockbusting,”NH Business Review, November 15-18 2002, 3A, (accessed January 29, 2009).

    [2] Abby Mendel, “Kitchen VIP’s (Very Important Pieces of Equipment),” Working Woman, April 1989, 140, (accessed January 29, 2009).

    [3] Barbra Young, “Ode to the Microwave Oven,” National Provisioner 214 (2000): 8, (accessed January 29, 2009).

    [4] Ibid.

    [5] Joseph Guenthner, “The Influence of Microwave Ovens On the Demand for Fresh and Frozen Potatoes,” Journal of Food Distribution Research (September 1991): 45-52, (accessed January 29, 2009).

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