No matter how many decades pass, there are certain appliances that stick around. Washing machines were a godsend that released us from hours of hand-washing, fridges changed the game for cooking (and preserving), dishwashers saved households from being torn apart over fights about dirty dishes, and radios brought music into the kitchen. But along the way, those appliances have changed and updated — and sometimes those upgrades yielded some hilarious and fascinating results. From dishwasher-washing machine hybrids, to flame throwers that replaced shovels, take a stroll down memory lane with these wacky vintage appliances.
1. Thor Dishwasher/ Washing Machine Hybrid
It’s not exactly stuffing your pants and socks into your dishwasher, but it’s close. Rather than having a clunky washing machine that took up space in their basement or utility closet, the people of the ’40s decided to save room in their ranch houses by making an appliance that could do double-duty. So load up your gingham dresses and pleated slacks for one load, and your dinner plates and wine glasses for the next. Frankly, this is kind of genius, and someone needs to think about engineering this for the 21st century.
2. Frigidaire Flair Pull-Out Cooktop Oven
Meant to be more glamorous and less conspicuous than a standard oven, this version features a pull-out stove that neatly tucks back into the counter when you’re done using it.
3. The Stove/Sink/Fridge Hybrid
You could have stirred the simmering spaghetti sauce with one hand and rinsed the dirty pots with the other with this compact three-in-one appliance. While it might look like a wacky mashup, you have to admit this would be quite the space-saver in a studio apartment. We bet if IKEA was around back then, it would have sold this small-scale all-in-one kitchen.
4. Auto Beer Bar
“Invaluable in traffic jams or on Sundays.” Forget clever thermoses that could keep your coffee hot while on the road, this add-on appliance would have had your favorite beer on tap right next to your radio. Though this is pretty cool for a picnic or drive-in movie, it’s a recipe for disaster (not to mention completely illegal and dangerous) just about anywhere else — including that weekday traffic jam.
5. The “Breakfront” Refrigerator
It’s a fridge with a built-in countertop! General Electric cut the appliance in half to create a quick lunch counter, a beverage bar, or just an extra surface where you could get your cooking done. And bonus: It came with its own cutting board.
6. The Hidden Cabinet Fridge
The original cabinet-door refrigerator (literally), this prototype was halved into two mini fridges and mounted onto the wall. While it’s not exactly the French-door, panelled-front look we’re used to, it was innovative and creative for its time. And bonus: you no longer had to bend and squat to get to your groceries.
7. Snow Melting Flame Gun
Don’t be a sucker and over-exert yourself with a shovel after last night’s snowstorm. Just set fire to your sidewalk and watch it all melt away.
8. Ronson Can Opener
It’s the Swiss Army knives of can openers! When you’re done opening your tuna can, you can switch over to a whisk if you’re whipping together a cake, a masher to take care of your potatoes, or a scrambler to whip up some eggs.
9. The Sound Chair
A futuristic take on the stereo, you could bundle a sound system and stylish chair all in one purchase. The stereo came be nestled into a fashionable side table, and the chair had speakers inside the headrest, allowing you to experience your favorite albums in surround-sound.
10. The Tele-Bar
It was the ultimate hostess entertainment system! On the outside, it looked like an inconspicuous dining room cabinet. But once you opened it up, you had everything you needed for a party all in one spot. It was a bar cart, stereo, and TV console all rolled into one tidy package.
What clever/funny/outrageous appliances from the past do you remember that you wish we would bring back for today? Share in the comments below!