The Electric Blender: A Brief History
The electric blender, as we know it today, was invented in 1919 by Stephen Poplawski, owner of the Stevens Electric Company. In 1922, after continuing to refine his invention, Poplawski patented the blender and began selling it through his company, the Stevens Electric Company, as a “drink mixer.” This device was sold primarily to drugstore soda fountains for making shakes and malts. Stevens Electric Company was purchased by Oster Manufacturing in 1946 and Oster was purchased by Sunbeam Products in 1960. Sunbeam Products is still around today, so you can still buy a direct descendant of the original blender!
A few years after the Poplawski blender was introduced, in 1935, Fred Osius (who was also involved in the founding of the Hamilton Beach Company) developed his own blender with funding from Fred Waring. A few years later Waring Products produced and sold the “Miracle Mixer” for home use. This apparatus was known as the Waring Blendor (not blender). As an interesting side note, Fred Waring was a popular musician, bandleader, and TV and radio personality at the time. Waring Products is now owned by Conair, but their line of blenders is still known as “Waring Blenders.”
The Vitamix Company released a competitive blender (using the more standard spelling) in 1937. Unlike most earlier blenders, which used a Pyrex glass jar, the Vitamix blender used a stainless steel jar. In the late 1940s, the Vitamix line became very popular due to television advertising, and the Vitamix blender was featured in the first 30-minute infomercial in Cleveland. By the 1950s, the electric blender had become a common kitchen appliance, along with toasters and electric coffee pots.
In the 1960s, Vita-Mix launched a line of powerful blenders that, in addition to grinding, mixing, and blending, could make ice cream, cook soup, and make juice. This made blenders significantly more versatile and further increased their popularity.
The traditional blender is still a standard fixture in many kitchens, but there are plenty of new modern variations. Some are minor and more in name than function, like the “Smoothie” blender or the “Margarita” blender (a standard blender can do this too). Other types of blenders, like immersion blenders, have a completely different design. Immersion blenders are handheld blenders with a small blender blade on the bottom and instead of pouring the materials you want to mix into a blender glass, you simply place the immersion blender in the substance you want to mix.