Remembering A Farm Boy

“He was a New England farm boy who never completed grammar school. Eventually he earned ‘the respect of every physicist in the country, not only for his ingenuity, but for what he had learned about physics by absorbing it through his skin.’” massmoments.org

This farm boy was named Percy…Percy Spencer. Might you have met him in print, Dear Readers?

Undoubtedly, you have not personally been introduced to Mr. Spencer. But Miss NiNi surmises that this gentleman has touched your life in mega proportions!

He is not your age or mine. He was born in 1894, and from the get-go, his till-death-do-us-part curiosity allowed him to figure out how things worked.

A Novel New Gadget

By 1920, he was working with the magnetron. Now, this little subject might sound pretty humdrum to you. It does to Miss NiNi.

However, it just so happened that one day years and years ago a casual observation made by Spencer would lead to a major change in food preparation. Okay! Now you have piqued the interest of this dessert baker! Let’s delve further into this topic!

“Standing next to a magnetron one day, Spencer noticed that a candy bar in his pocket melted. This caused him to wonder if the energy from radio waves could be used to cook food. He placed popcorn kernels near the tube; within minutes, he was snacking on the world’s first microwave popcorn.” (See above reference.)

Fast forward to another blip on the timeline of microwave proportions.

The year was 1972.

With diploma tucked in the dresser drawer of her childhood home, the newly crowned graduate home economist loaded her canary yellow Toyota Corolla and traveled east on I-94 to a Minnesota city in Otter Tail County. The “food lab” of Otter Tail Power Company was her first professional home. Recipe testing, organizing cooking schools, and creating cookbooks were some of the tasks to which she applied her abilities.

Doing the Unthinkable!

What was the goal, Dear Readers? The goal was to educate the consumer about electrical kitchen appliances and cooking in general. Many small appliances were touted to eager-to-learn homemakers. But it was the new microwave oven that was “The Bomb” of that decade!

My goodness! What the microwave oven could do!! Pop corn. Cook hot dogs. Boil water. Warm a baby’s bottle…all for the price of approximately $500.

Who ever had heard of cooking a hot dog in 30 seconds? Unthinkable!

Boiling a cup of water in the microwave oven took about one minute versus multiple minutes on the clock with the use of a stove top.

And oh, the singing of popping corn was magically audible after a few gentle minutes in the microwave oven. Pass the butter please!

It didn’t matter to a homemaker that the microwave oven took up a generous three feet of counter space. She gladly forfeited the space in order to have speedier food preparation!

Do You Remember?

Do you remember your first microwave oven, Dear Readers? Mine was the very popular shiny boxy Amana Radarange with two timer dials. And, did I ever have fun learning a new school of thought in meal preparation with that appliance!

Would you like to retro to the days of food preparation minus the microwave oven, Dear Readers? Miss NiNi would not!  I need the right hand of microwave speed working hand in hand with other small and large kitchen appliances. It takes this electrical team to help Miss NiNi produce some mighty fine desserts!

Home microwave ovens took awhile to catch on, according to my source. One will never know if the persuasive enthusiasm for this appliance by one home economist (That’s me!) was a piece of the merchandising puzzle. Whatever it was, by the time Percy Spencer died in 1970, microwave ovens were becoming a refreshing occupant of American homes.

The next time your fingers digitally set the timer to cook on your microwave oven, you might give a warm remembrance to Percy Spencer–its inventor.