Vintage Kitschy Kitchen Contraptions

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Put me in an antiques, thrift store, or flea market, and I never want to leave! My favorite treasures are pieces found for my kitchen. Retro kitchen items from the ‘40’s to ‘60’s give my kitchen a happy, vintage vibe. I especially adore Atomic age, kitschy kitchen contraptions with names that sound like they’re right out of an episode of the Jetsons!

When I met my friend Andrea years ago, the first thing I noticed in her kitchen was a shiny metal object. Memories from childhood flooded back – it was an “Ice-O-Mat!” The name alone makes me want to burst into giggles!

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Meant to grind ice into chips, my parents had a red-and-white model that’d come out at parties, or, whenever anyone was sick, my daddy would crank out bowls of chipped ice to get fevers down. It was just ice, but somehow having come out of the “Ice-O-Mat” made it seem like something more!

Founded in 1932 in Missouri, the Rival company became known for small kitchen gadgets. The name today is still used for small kitchen appliances (most remember Rival for the “Crock Pot” line; it no longer bears the Rival logo). Before they became known for their little electric appliances, Rival originally produced small die-cast metal gizmos with hilarious names ending in “O-Mat”.

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I found MY first “Ice-O-Mat” last summer at a Vintage Camper Rally swap. Not the same square model my parents had, it’s the “Bullet” design. It took some time to figure out how to open and close this art-deco-looking model, but it’s really ingenious- the bottom becomes a mini ice bucket! I thought it’d look cool sitting with my vintage glassware.

After years hunting, I finally found THE same red-and-white, “Vogue” model my parents had! Easy to use, it crushes ice perfectly, just as it did when first made in the 1950’s! I have an automatic ice maker in my fridge, with ice shoot and crusher. However, did you know that those are a source of major germs? Think about it…you can’t exactly clean inside, and when we use ours on “chip”, ice just goes flinging about the kitchen.

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Another item my friend Andrea swears by is the “Juice-O-Mat”. Andrea, an elementary school teacher, loves to bring her “Juice-O-Mat” to show her class. She says little kids get a big kick out of it, and the simple metal construction is basically indestructible!

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On that same outing where I found the red ice crusher, I found a vintage “Juice-O-Mat” as well!

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The white one I found has a patina that shows years of use. Unlike other juicers of the time, the “Juice-O-Mat” is all metal (made by another manufacturer of the era, the “Juice-King”, had Bakelite handles. Reproduction “Juice-King” models from the late 70’s had plastic handles). Place a half a lemon, lime, or orange in the “Juice-O-Mat”, push the lever, and VOILA! There’s more juice than you’d ever expect from one piece of fruit- seed and pulp free! We “juice” every morning, but for a quick bit of juice for drinks or salad dressing, the “Juice-O-Mat” is effortless and easy to clean.

Falling down that magical rabbit hole known as “Etsy”, (Hello, my name is Alice…), I found a slew of fun, vintage Rival kitschy kitchen products.

There’s the “Shred-O-Mat” for veggies, “Grind-O-Mat” and “Protect-O-Mat” for meat, and the early electric “Broil-O-Mat” tabletop broiler and “Steam-O-Mat” iron. (Admit it, those names make you smile). My husband and I ended up buying a “Can-O-Mat”. The “Slimline” model is a heavy manual can opener that attaches to the wall. I think it’s the name that sold us.

White on one side, shiny 50’s chrome on the other! It was marketed as the “World’s Most Sanitary Can Opener” at the time of production. We still have to figure out how to attach it to a wall to use.

White on one side, shiny 50’s chrome on the other! It was marketed as the “World’s Most Sanitary Can Opener” at the time of production, with an ad reading something like “keep the dog food out of the children’s food”. We still have to figure out how to attach it to a wall to use.

I remember reading where MaryJane once wrote how people used to not go to the gym because they burned calories in their everyday lives doing chores. In the kitchen, they mixed and ground food manually. My family loves coffee, especially fresh-ground. We’ve been using an electric coffee grinder for years, but lately it’s spitting coffee grinds everywhere and the cord’s so twisted up it’s worrisome. Seeing a red-handled, vintage Rival coffee grinder, we had to try it! (Hubs said even if it didn’t work, it’d look cute in my retro-inspired kitchen).

Having a “retro-inspired, kitschy kitchen’ makes me happy!

Having a “retro-inspired, kitschy kitchen’ makes me happy!

When it arrived, I couldn’t wait to try it! (It’s Rival, though not marked “Coffee-O-Mat, we still call it that).

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The seller forgot to mention though outside was mint, inside there was a great deal of rust. Not to be deterred, I simply used an SOS soap pad, along with a wooden skewer to polish the metal with the pad inside so my fingers wouldn’t get injured. Steel wool soap pads are good for cleaning the outside of years of grime, as well, as long as you use a light touch so you don’t scratch or damage paint.

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The inside gleams, and the grinder’s amazing! It’s a bit of a workout, but after getting the hang of it, we never want to use anything else. It’s not the fastest way to grind coffee, but look how perfectly it grinds!

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The result is a smooth, delicious Cup-O-Joe! (Perfect for Glamping, too).

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In the end, faster, electrified products won over, (eventually becoming “disposable”, since nowadays small appliances don’t last very long). Our grandparents had it right…things “back then” were bursting with charm and meant to last! I’m glad I can find “oldies but goodies”; they are making me smile still!

***Dedicated to my friend, Andrea…our “junktiquing” and fun adventures sometimes “rival” those of Lucy and Ethel! :)

Until next time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

 

Leave a comment 22 Comments

  1. Ramona Puckett says:

    Thank you! I love this! You have inspired me to go junking to find my own ‘o-mats!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ramona, FUN!!! Happy Hunting! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Jutta Maraun says:

    Great finds and a fun read. We all need a friend who gets it!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jutta, thank you! Glad you enjoyed the post. I agree…we all need that special friend (or two) who truly “get” us. Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Sandi King says:

    What a great article, Nicole. I remember those can openers that attached to the wall. They were great to use and I would use one today if I could find one, and the same goes for the ice crusher. Today’s models don’t always hold up as well as those models of yesteryear. And I would love to find a coffee grinder that worked as I like to grind my own coffee beans for coffee, the finer the better. I have an electric one but I used it to grind up spices. Gotta go junk-tiquing soon, now that the weather has become warmer.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sandi, Thank you! It’s definitely getting to be “Junk-tiquing weather” – finally! I think it is sad how nothing today holds up (or has the charm of) things from yesteryear. Everything is made of plastic! That’s how I ended up falling in love with vintage sewing machines – my expensive plastic one fell apart! Anyway, keep your eye out – you never know when you might come across a vintage grinder or can opener. And of course, there’s always Ebay and Etsy… Happy Hunting! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Rose Eskridge says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart! I love the “O’Mats”! You inspire so many!I love your posts.

  5. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Brought back memories of my kitchen in the ’60’s. You have found some good things with Andrea sounds like fun too! Must have left red ice crusher in Bellaire house when I sold it.
    Love,
    Mother

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mom, Yeah, who knows where that ice crusher went, lol! Your kitchen when I was a kid rocked! You definitely influenced my kitchen style! Love you, Nicole

  6. I enjoyed your blog and I have had many kitcshy items but no o-matics. I think maybe Laundromats and those Vend-o-mat (restaurants with many cabinets of different foods that coins purchased your chosen meal. Likely started in the late 40’s or 50’s. Magazine fascinates me by the name. Keep up the fun blog. MJ

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Mary Jane, I think of Laundro-mats, too, giggle! And who can forget drive-up Photo-Mats? Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Phyllis Mogensen Kochert says:

    Nicole, I feel like your older sister. I also love vintage kitchen stuff. You should see my kitchen! Also, I notice you married a Danish man. I am a Christensen descendant and wonder if you or your husband are related to me?

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Phyllis, A fellow vintage kitchen enthusiast! Wish I could see! Do you have relatives in Denmark? Where are they descended from? Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. winnie Jackson says:

    i love your many vintage kitchen ware. i too have some, but you sure do hold the record!
    i always learn lots fromyourblog. i thank you for all your inspirations. hugs and happy spring.
    winnie jackson

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Winnie, What a nice thing to say! Thank you, you made my day. I am so glad you like the blog! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Vivian Monroe says:

    AWESOME Love all the great finds. I love re-using the things fromthe past. Things were made so much more durable back then…made to last… all your finds made me smile. :) Be Blessed. Neta

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Neta! Thank you! I agree…people didn’t replace things constantly back in the day because things were meant to last! Thanks for commenting…always great to hear from you! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Joan says:

    Now all of those were ‘back in my day’ normal everyday used items. Just recently, now that my old hands/arms are not working well, the juicer that has a fluted center and you put your fruit on it and turn the fruit around, isn’t doing the trick – so am going out looking for a usable Juice – O – Mat. We had red/white and turquoise/white so it won’t matter the color. This was a fun trip down memory lane. God bless.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan, I hear ya! The Juice-O-Mat is so easy to use! Happy Hunting! If you don’t find one “in the wild”, there are some on EBay and Etsy. I am so glad you enjoyed the blog! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Judy from Maine says:

    You’re right a smile for every “o mat”. You mentioned you haven’t hung your Slimline can opener yet, if I remember correctly, it is screwed to the wall through the plate on the back end and then swings out to use, and swings back to keep it out of the way. Hope that makes sense. Thanks for the smiles to start my day.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Judy! Thank you! We do have the plate, but weren’t sure what direction it is supposed to go. That makes sense. Hanging the can opener is now on my hubby’s to list. :) Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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