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Still Mixing It Up, After All These Years

Guys may dominate the hardware scene, but there’s at least one gleaming piece of machinery that makes even the ladies grow as weak-kneed as any man staring at a ’69 Mustang: the KitchenAid mixer. Seemingly indestructible, elegantly unchanging and an object of desire whose allure still hasn't peaked nearly 100 years after its debut. In fact, the Greenville, Ohio, plant that builds the mixers (among other appliances) is undergoing an expansion, and how welcome is it to hear that about a Heartland manufacturing facility?

The KitchenAid mixer hit the market in 1919 as the Hobart H-5. Wives of Hobart executives got to test the new device, and according to lore, one woman (sounding suspiciously like the wife of a marketing VP) declared, “I don’t care what you call it, it’s the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had.” Shortly thereafter, the trademark was filed.

By the 1930s, the mixer had settled into the look we know today. And in 1955, the mixer went stylish, making the leap from its industrial color scheme to a variety of hues at the Atlantic City Housewares Show. Now customers of the Sputnik Era could choose Petal Pink, Sunny Yellow, Island Green and more. Today, the mixers come in more than 60 colors.

The current boom in mixer sales is somewhat remarkable, considering that the devices wear out about as often as a cast-iron skillet. You’d think that just about everyone has one by now. But the ever-growing foodie trend has ever-more Americans jonesing for this bullet-nosed workhorse with the kind of heft that lets you know it’s dependable. And why not? The KitchenAid actually makes you want to cook more and cook more daringly. How could you not use that dough hook? Who doesn’t feel like a big-time pastry chef when you flip the switch and watch the KitchenAid do the mixing for you? And where could you go with the attachments that turn it into a pasta maker, sausage stuffer or even ice cream maker?

For the truly devoted, KitchenAid offers a visitors center not far from the plant in Greenville, about 95 miles north of Cincinnati. Guests can take cooking lessons, tour the factory and visit a museum of KitchenAid appliances that includes a mixer signed by Julia Child. And, of course, you can buy a mixer while you’re there, with just about any color you can imagine in stock. Maybe it’s time you had two in the kitchen.

Photos courtesy of KitchenAid

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