The Evolution of Refrigeration

Posted by Nina Harlach on 8/2/2017 to Refrigerator

Have you ever thought about what your life would be like without a modern refrigerator? No automatic ice maker, no built-in water filter, no freezer…just imagine. Stop taking your modern appliances for granted and keep reading to see what life was really like at different points in history before Whirlpool, Frigidaire, & KitchenAid refrigerators even existed.

19th Century - Ice Trade

During the 19th Century, there was something going on called the Ice Trade or Frozen Water Trade. Remember the opening scene of the Disney movie Frozen when Kristoff and Sven were watching/helping some middle-aged men cut ice from a large pond in cube form and carry it off using sleds? Well, those men were likely transporting that ice to be stored and sold, and that was actually real life in 19th Century Norway and the eastern coast of the US. This Ice Trade was the beginning of a renaissance of refrigeration techniques that have helped to refrigerate and elongate the life spans of food items for centuries.

Cellar “Refrigerators”

One of the very first ideas for refrigeration was located far underground in cellars. As you may notice, the cellar of your home tends to typically stay much cooler than the rest of your home that is above ground. Us 21st Century-ers were not the first ones to realize this. Our ancestors from decades and decades ago realized this and used this idea to their advantage. People used to line their basements with hay, snow, and ice to create a giant enclosed refrigerator in order to store and preserve their food items longer. Can you imagine the basement/cellar of your home still like that today? I can’t, and thank goodness this idea kept progressing through time.

1756 - William Cullen

William Cullen was a scholar of many scientific areas. Medicine, chemistry, you name it. Cullen dabbled in the area of inventing as well, and even though he didn’t realize it back then, he actually created the very first artificial refrigeration device. His device was oddly shaped and unconventional when compared to modern refrigeration models, and he (nor anybody else) realized this invention’s true potential back then.

1805 - Oliver Evens

Oliver Evans proposed the design for a very early refrigerator model, but unfortunately, it was not able to see its fruition until a few decades after his death by Jacob Perkins.

1835 - Jacob Perkins

Jacob Perkins was also very well known in the realm of science. Physicist and mechanical engineer turned inventor. Perkins received one of the first patents for early refrigeration. The patent’s title read: Apparatus and means for producing ice, and in cooling fluids. Imagine saying, “I’m going to throw this leftover pizza in the apparatus and means for producing ice, and in cooling fluids” instead of the usual, “I’m going to throw this leftover pizza in the refrigerator.” Funny, right? Anyway, thanks to this invention and patent, Perkins is known today as the father of the refrigerator.

1923 - First Freezer Incorporated

The cold never bothered me anyway.

1950’s-1960’s – Automatic Ice Makers Incorporated

Ice, ice, baby.

1970’s-1980’s – More Efficient Refrigerators Made & Banned For Environmental Reasons

Early models of refrigerators used a chemical called Freon to help run the large appliance. It turns out that Freon is actually made from CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) which have since been deemed illegal due to their contribution to the depletion of the Ozone Layer. Oops.

21st Century - Modern Refrigerators

Today, I would say that most of us take our refrigerators for granted. Refrigerators are made up of all sorts of parts that work together in perfect harmony to create this magnificent modern-day appliance that helps to keep our food cold or frozen, amongst other things. Our refrigerators are now made with automatic ice makers, water filters & dispensers, & even internet and Bluetooth capabilities. Somehow the refrigerator still seems to keep improving decade over decade. We will have to keep an eye out to see how much this appliance evolves even further in another few years!

Thanks for reading! We hope this blog post will help you learn how to appreciate your refrigerator, and to make sure you keep it running efficiently by replacing its parts with our authentic manufacturer-approved refrigerator parts if anything ever breaks or goes wrong. 

Please visit our main website to find the perfect part for your refrigerator. 

Not sure what part you need? Contact us at 866-236-3848 and one of our Parts Experts would be happy to help!

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