Or maybe it should be called a “reward”. Early this morning ABC news featured Chuck Williams, the founder of gourmet cookware store Williams-Sonoma, who late last year celebrated his 94th birthday.
Home chefs, if you collect cooking trivia to delight your guests at dinner parties, here’s a great story. Many years ago, a company called Hobart made industrial-strength kitchen equipment for the U.S. Navy, restaurants, and institutions. They had a large time-saving machine which mixed dough, mashed potatoes, and combined other recipe ingredients (think 80-quart stand mixer). Chuck Williams thought home cooks should have that convenience, and he persuaded Hobart to make the home kitchen counter-friendly size available in his chain of stores.
The story in his own words:
“To keep the store and catalog stocked with new items, I took trips to France every January. Garlic presses, lemon zesters, ice-cream makers, and food processors are the kinds of things people take for granted now. But before they found a place in American kitchens, Williams-Sonoma sold them … The KitchenAid stand mixer, for example, could be bought only at restaurant-supply stores or through Avon-like parties. I approached the manufacturer, Hobart, and soon had them to sell. It was expensive compared with other mixers, but it became a must-have and a top seller for both us and Hobart.” (quotation from a CNNMoney.com 2003 interview with Chuck Williams)
Hobart eventually morphed its home appliance line into the KitchenAid company (although you can still buy Hobart mixers today, if you have enough room on your reinforced kitchen floor!). In commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the KitchenAid stand mixer, the company presented to Mr. Williams a first-off-the-assembly-line shiny rich red KA. The color will be available for a limited time only.
How it got its name:
The history of KitchenAid goes back to 1919 when the Hobart Manufacturing company was trying to come up with a better name for their Model H-5. The story goes that an executive took one home to his wife and asked her to test it and help come up with the name. She reportedly said: “I don’t care what you call it, I know it’s the best kitchen aid I have ever had”, and the name was born.
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