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18.3.10

The 1980s Microwave Oven Revolution

From the Brian Mills Spring/Summer 1983 mail order catalogue - priced from just under £200 to just under £450, microwave ovens were not cheap by early 1980s standards. "High speed cooking" proclaims Brian Mills. It really did seem a tremendous novelty back in those days.

"Prepare food in a matter of minutes" - this Brian Mills Spring/Summer 1983 mail order catalogue page points out the benefits of the Phillips compact microwave oven.

Arriving in a kitchen near you in the 1980s would probably have been a microwave oven. These wonderful contraptions had actually existed since the 1960s, but it was all a matter of cost, often prohibitive with new technological arrivals. So, microwave ovens remained the preserve of those with dosh-to-spare until the 1980s. I never even saw one!

But then, in the early 1980s, ping!, a cafe in my local city centre suddenly installed a microwave. Panic! "Microwaves use radiation! They'll kill you!" some of us heathens cried.

And many of us believed it.

In the mid-'80s, microwave ovens were becoming cheap enough and common enough for my mother to actually consider buying one from a mail order catalogue. I was fascinated to see an episode of failed mid-'80s soap Albion Market the other day, featuring two of the female characters discussing the miracle of microwaves.

I first encountered one (in my workplace) in 1987 and was still a little suspicious of them. Did they leak? Did they ruin your fertility? Did they slowly cook you from inside? What a twit!

By the end of the decade, I was growing used to microwave ovens and my dear old mum had one installed at home and absolutely swore by it!
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Kill you? Nah, they helped you get dinner more quickly so you didn't have to miss that new Aussie soap, Home And Away...
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Mind you, some thought that was a fate worse than death...

The guests are clearly absolutely delighted at the wondrously quick jacket potatoes in this ad from Cosmopolitan magazine, July 1983. The '80s went a bundle on fancy baked spuds. See here for some F-Plan Diet recipes.



Una Stubbs gets very excited about the miracle of microwaves in this 1985 TV ad for the Toshiba Deltawave.

4 comments:

  1. My Sharps Microwave was purchased as a Christmas present for me in 1984 - not my choice of present - I was horrified at the price at the time and did not really want one. I have rarely used it for actual cooking - some sponges more like puddings - gravy custard - the most use has been for warming up dinner for the late arrivals, everyday. It finally blew up yesterday RIP 06/11/11

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  2. Believe it or not, I'm just thinking about buying my very first microwave!

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  3. I have a toshiba 1983 model. Still used every day.happy 30th birthday to it!

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  4. I have a 1985 Saisho from Curry's - still in regualr use, still works fine. Only some of my hifi has lasted longer/still been relevant. :)

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