Tappan Stove’s Radarange, built by Amana Corporation, was first sold on October 25, 1955, for $1,295. They sold poorly and were soon withdrawn from the market.

A microwave oven with a metal shelf

A microwave oven with a metal shelf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It wasn’t until 1967 when Litton redesigned them to fit on a kitchen counter and sold them for $495 that they took off.

We bought our first microwave oven for $400 in the 1970s.

It’s a luxury, really. Kitchens already have stoves.

So, a microwave just lets you cook or heat or thaw food faster.

When we bought ours, the store gave free lessons on how to cook with them.

They cooked everything for an entire meal, from appetizers to dessert in our lessons.

The real purpose was to get us over the uncomfortable feeling of having active radar shooting around in our kitchen.

And, to give us ideas about how to use this new appliance, so different from the way stoves are used.

We tried everything at home they’d showed us in the classes.

But, most things cooked in the microwave were better cooked on a stove.

Within a few months, however, we began to see the real advantages of the microwave.

We hadn’t bought a kitchen appliance. We had bought time.

I never would have bought a $400 baked potato cooker, but the difference in baking a potato in the stove for more than an hour or in the microwave for four minutes meant we could have our favorite baked potatoes any night after work, instead of reserving them for weekends.

Suddenly, forgetting to thaw something in the morning for dinner was not the disaster it had been.

Anything could be thawed in minutes.

We didn’t have to scramble to figure out what to cook for dinner before our children’s bedtime anymore if we’d forgotten to thaw something.

And now, though we used to have leftovers only rarely because we were cooking for a family, reheating something in the microwave for one or two extends meals through several days.

We now consider a microwave as common a kitchen appliance as a toaster used to be.

Though reheating and thawing are our most common uses, and we were able to use my Mom’s when ours broke, I can no longer imagine not having one available.

How did you learn to use a microwave?


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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