11 Things You Might Not Know About KitchenAid Mixers

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If wedding registries and cooking shows are any indication, KitchenAid’s iconic stand mixer may be home chefs’ most sought-after piece of equipment. Whether you’ve been whipping cream with one for decades or are thinking about plunking down the cash to buy your first one, there are a few things you might not know about the enduringly popular appliance. 

1. THEY WERE ORIGINALLY MEANT TO SAVE COMMERCIAL BAKERS TIME. 

In 1908, Herbert Johnson of the Hobart Manufacturing Company began designing a machine that would handle the task of mixing bread dough. By 1914, the company was marketing an 80-quart behemoth stand mixer called the Model H. It was a godsend to commercial bakers, who began snapping up the hulking contraptions. 

2. NAVY SAILORS WERE EARLY FANS. 

Before KitchenAid mixers were staples of cushy kitchens, they appeared in more rugged contexts. The United States Navy, always on the hunt for a way to save sailors time and efficiently feed large crews, ordered Model H mixers for three of its ships, where they proved so valuable that the device became part of Navy ships’ standard equipment.

3. AN EXECUTIVE'S WIFE NAMED IT.

Following the huge success of the commercial mixer, Hobart began working on a home model. As the story goes, once a prototype was completed, select executives and engineers took mixers home to their wives while they mulled over options for a catchy commercial name. When one of their wives praised the mixer as “the best kitchen aid” she had ever owned, culinary history was made. 

4. THE FIRST HOME VERSION WAS ENORMOUS.  

In 1919, home chefs finally got their own chance to cook with a scaled-down version of the contraption that had revolutionized bakeries and galleys. The domestic mixer, dubbed the Model H-5, didn’t enjoy the same instant success as its industrial predecessor. For one, it wasn’t quite the sleek KitchenAid we know and love today. The H-5 tipped the scales at 65 pounds, and it was 26 inches tall. The factory could only crank out four completed mixers per day, and retail outlets like hardware stores didn’t want to carry such a revolutionary product without first seeing that there was a market for it. Even home bakers who were interested in a mixer would have suffered from a case of sticker shock—the Model H-5 retailed for $189.50, or roughly $2600 in 2015. 

5. THE COMPANY HAD TO GET CREATIVE TO SELL THE MIXERS. 

When stores balked at carrying the home mixers, Hobart took to the streets to move units. A door-to-door sales force composed mostly of women lugged the hulking devices from one home to the next to show housewives just how useful the KitchenAid could be.   

6. A SMALLER VERSION GAVE KITCHENAID ITS BIG BREAK.

Compelling sales pitch or no, getting homemakers to shell out big money for an enormous mixer was still a tall task. In 1927, a new, even smaller version hit the market, and KitchenAid finally had its hit. The Model G was even smaller than the Model H-5 and a bit less expensive, which helped it find a sweet spot that fit both homemakers’ counter space and their wallets. The new version was a huge success that sold 20,000 units in just three years. 

7. IT STARTED LOOKING FAMILIAR IN THE 1930S. 

Soon after the Model G helped KitchenAid find traction in the marketplace, the Great Depression hit. While a major economic downturn would seem to be bad news for a relative luxury like a mixer, the company decided to keep innovating to maintain its customer base. In 1936, designer Egmont Arens came aboard to create new models of the mixer, a choice that would literally shape KitchenAid’s future. Arens was a proponent of “humaneering,” a philosophy that dictated designs should be pleasing to the senses in addition to being functional, and in August 1937, KitchenAid introduced an all-time crowd-pleaser, the Model K. 

How strong was Arens’s new design? Over 75 years later, the KitchenAid mixers brides and grooms are adding to their registries are, in the company’s words, “virtually unchanged” from the ones Arens rolled out in 1937. 

8. THEY ARE BUILT TO LAST.

Arens’s design isn’t the only enduring thing about KitchenAid. When the home mixers celebrated their 75th anniversary in 1994, KitchenAid launched a search to find the oldest working example of one of its mixers. Ninety-one-year-old Maude Humes of Blawnox, Pennsylvania took home the prize of $7500 and a new set of appliances for owning a working 1919 Model H. Humes admitted that she inherited the ancient mixer from an aunt and actually did her cooking with a more recent model: A 1930s-era Model G.  

9. THERE'S A SCIENCE BEHIND THEIR PERFORMANCE. 

Lize, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It takes more than just an aesthetically pleasing design to become a kitchen hero for over seven decades. As KitchenAid’s marketing materials and review sites like The Sweethome alike note, KitchenAid mixers employ a “planetary” action to do their mixing. As a beater spins, it also rotates around within the bowl, which ensures more contact with the ingredients. The end result is that the ingredients get more fully mixed than they would using alternative mechanisms. 

10. OLDER ATTACHMENTS STILL WORK. 

One positive side effect from Arens’s enduring design: Very old attachments still work, even on brand-new KitchenAid mixers. While many chefs loving hooking the pasta maker or sausage grinder attachments onto their mixers, with some digging, you can find discontinued 1950s-era attachments to help turn your mixer into a machine that shells peas, buffs silver, and opens cans. 

11. THERE'S AN ENTIRE KITCHENAID MUSEUM.

m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Since the 1940s, every KitchenAid mixer has been built in the same factory in Greenville, Ohio, which has turned into something of a shrine to kitchen appliances. The KitchenAid Experience boasts a retail store and factory tours, but for hardcore fans of mixing, the highlight has to be the museum, which boasts early models, vintage ads, and notable mixers like the K5A owned by Julia Child

10 Facts About the Winter Solstice, the Shortest Day of the Year

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Amid the whirl of the holiday season, many are vaguely aware of the approach of the winter solstice, but how much do you really know about it? Whether you're a fan of winter or just wish it would go away, here are 10 things to note—or even celebrate—about the shortest day of the year.

1. The winter solstice HAPPENS ON DECEMBER 21/22 in 2019.

Sun setting behind a tree in the winter
buxtree/iStock via Getty Images

The date of the winter solstice varies from year to year, and can fall anywhere between December 20 and December 23, with the 21st or 22nd being the most common dates. The reason for this is because the tropical year—the time it takes for the sun to return to the same spot relative to Earth—is different from the calendar year. The next solstice occurring on December 20 will not happen until 2080, and the next December 23 solstice will not occur until 2303.

2. The winter solstice hAPPENS AT A SPECIFIC, BRIEF MOMENT.

sun setting through the trees
yanikap/iStock via Getty Images

Not only does the solstice occur on a specific day, but it also occurs at a specific time of day, corresponding to the instant the North Pole is aimed furthest away from the sun on the 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth's axis. This is also the time when the sun shines directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. In 2019, this moment occurs at 4:19 a.m. UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) on December 22. For those on Eastern Standard Time, the solstice will occur at 11:19 p.m. on December 21. And regardless of where you live, the solstice happens at the same moment for everyone on the planet.

3. The winter solstice mARKS THE LONGEST NIGHT AND SHORTEST DAY OF THE YEAR FOR THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE.

sun setting over Central Park
rmbarricarte/iStock via Getty Images

As most are keenly aware, daylight hours grow shorter and shorter as the winter solstice approaches, and begin to slowly lengthen afterward. It's no wonder that the day of the solstice is referred to in some cultures as the "shortest day of the year" or "extreme of winter." New York City will experience 9 hours and 15 minutes of sunlight, compared to 15 hours and 5 minutes on the summer solstice. Helsinki, Finland, will get 5 hours and 49 minutes of light. Barrow, Alaska, will not have a sunrise at all (and hasn't since mid-November; its next sunrise will be on January 22), while the North Pole has had no sunrise since October. The South Pole, though, will be basking in the glow of the midnight sun, which won't set until March.

4. ANCIENT CULTURES VIEWED THE WINTER SOLSTICE AS A TIME OF DEATH AND REBIRTH.

snow on tree branches
Eerik/iStock via Getty Images

The seeming death of the light and very real threat of starvation over the winter months would have weighed heavily on early societies, who held varied solstice celebrations and rites meant to herald the return of the sun and hope for new life. Scandinavian and Germanic pagans lit fires and may have burned Yule logs as a symbolic means of welcoming back the light. Cattle and other animals were slaughtered around midwinter, followed by feasting on what was the last fresh meat for several months. The modern Druidic celebration Alban Arthan reveres the death of the Old Sun and birth of the New Sun.

5. THE  shortest DAY of the year MARKS THE DISCOVERY OF NEW AND STRANGE WORLDS.

Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth on December 21, 1620, to found a society that would allow them to worship freely. On the same day in 1898, Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium, ushering in an atomic age. And on December 21, 1968, the Apollo 8 spacecraft launched, becoming the first manned moon mission.

6. THE WORD SOLSTICE TRANSLATES ROUGHLY TO "SUN STANDS STILL."

colorful sunset
a_Taiga/iStock via Getty Images

Solstice derives from the Latin scientific term solstitium, containing sol, which means "sun," and the past participle stem of sistere, meaning "to make stand." This comes from the fact that the sun’s position in the sky relative to the horizon at noon, which increases and decreases throughout the year, appears to pause in the days surrounding the solstice. In modern times, we view the phenomenon of the solstice from the position of space, and of the Earth relative to the sun. Earlier people, however, were thinking about the sun's trajectory, how long it stayed in the sky and what sort of light it cast.

7. STONEHENGE IS ALIGNED TO THE SUNSET ON the WINTER SOLSTICE.

Stonehenge sunset
jessicaphoto/iStock via Getty Images

The primary axis of the megalithic monument is oriented to the setting sun, while Newgrange, another structure built around the same time as Stonehenge, lines up with the winter solstice sunrise. Some have theorized that the position of the sun was of religious significance to the people who built Stonehenge, while other theories hold that the monument is constructed along natural features that happen to align with it. The purpose of Stonehenge is still subject to debate, but its importance on the winter solstice continues into the modern era, as thousands of hippies, pagans, and other types of enthusiasts gather there every year to celebrate the occasion.

8. ANCIENT ROMANS CELEBRATED REVERSALS AT THE MIDWINTER FESTIVAL OF SATURNALIA.

Saturnalia parade
A Saturnalia celebration in England in 2012.
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The holiday, which began as a festival to honor the agricultural god Saturn, was held to commemorate the dedication of his temple in 497 BCE. It quickly became a time of widespread revelry and debauchery in which societal roles were overturned, with masters serving their slaves and servants being allowed to insult their masters. Mask-wearing and play-acting were also part of Saturnalia's reversals, with each household electing a King of Misrule. Saturnalia was gradually replaced by Christmas throughout the Roman Empire, but many of its customs survive as Christmas traditions.

9. SOME TRADITIONS HOLD THAT DARK SPIRITS WALK THE EARTH ON THE WINTER SOLSTICE.

Snowy woods
Serjio74/iStock via Getty Images

The Iranian festival of Yalda is celebrated on the longest night of the year. In pre-Islamic times, it heralded the birth of Mithra, the ancient sun god, and his triumph over darkness. Zoroastrian lore holds that evil spirits wander the Earth and the forces of the destructive spirit Ahriman are strongest on this long night. People are encouraged to stay up most of the night in the company of one another, eating, talking, and sharing poetry and stories, in order to avoid any brushes with dark entities. Beliefs about the presence of evil on the longest night are also echoed in Celtic and Germanic folklore.

10. SOME THOUGHT THE WORLD WOULD END ON THE 2012 WINTER SOLSTICE.

snowy woods with sun through the trees
Delpixart/iStock via Getty Images

December 21, 2012 corresponds to the date 13.0.0.0.0 in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar used by the ancient Maya, marking the end of a 5126-year cycle. Some people feared this juncture would bring about the end of the world or some other cataclysmic event. Others took a more New Age-y view (literally) and believed it heralded the birth of a new era of deep transformation for Earth and its inhabitants. In the end, neither of these things appeared to occur, leaving the world to turn through winter solstices indefinitely, or at least as long as the sun lasts.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

11 Gifts for the Curious Kids in Your Life

The Play Gym by Lovevery
The Play Gym by Lovevery

No matter their age, you want to find gifts that will keep the kids in your life entertained, stimulated, and give them a sense of accomplishment—even during playtime. Luckily, these 11 gifts will do all of that, and will encourage their curiosity to grow.

1. The Play Gym by Lovevery; $140

Baby playset
Lovevery / Amazon

Specially designed by experts to stimulate infants for their first year, this play mat grows with your favorite baby. It has five developmental zones and multiple activities—like teethers, mirrors, and colorful flash cards. And, when baby becomes a toddler, the mat converts into a tent fort for further imaginative play.

Find It: Amazon

2. Real Insect Superpowers Comic Book; $18

Follow the adventures of the Supersonic Assassin, the Malevolent Mimic, and other insect superheroes as they smash, zap, hypnotize, and sting in this 88-page book that's part comic, part nature encyclopedia.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

3. Droid Inventor Kit; $100

This is definitely the droid you’re looking for. Recommended for kids in grades eight years and up, this customizable robot comes with an app that defines more than 22 missions as well as easy block-based coding activities. And for any Star Wars fans, the Droid makes 20 different sounds, just like from the movies

Find It: Amazon

4. Solar System Chalk; $40

Solar system chalk
Uncommon Goods

This nine-piece chalk set features all the planets in the solar system, along with Pluto. Each piece has multiple colors, which represent the planets' cores, layers, and crusts. And for each set sold, $2 will be donated to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to support autism research.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

5. Jr. NASA Rocket Scientist Lab Coat; $20

Jr. NASA coat
Aeromax / Amazon

Get kids excited about science early with this lab coat, which comes in sizes for boys and girls. Alongside three pockets, the jacket also has the NASA logo and the words “Rocket Scientist.” When your astronaut-in-training is done playing, the coat can be tossed in the washing machine.

Find It: Amazon

6. 3Doodler 3D Pen Set; $50

This wireless pen allows kids to freestyle draw in the air—the eco-plastic filament cools in place quickly, giving kids plenty of practice with spatial reasoning without the costs of a full 3D printer.

Find It: Amazon

7. Giant Coloring Poster; $19

Giant coloring poster
O'Kroshka / Amazon

If your kid is going to color on the wall, you may as well give them a designated place to do so. Children can use pencils, markers, and paints on this 33''x 45'' poster that depicts all types of animals in a zoo. This gift will not only encourage creative expression, but it can also help kids work on their motor skills.

Find It: Amazon

8. Root-Vue Farm; $39

A little girl poses behind the Root Vue farm
Young Explorers

Whether they join FFA or not, kids can get a head start on understanding horticulture with this indoor garden system. Plant the included seeds—for carrots, radishes, and onions—and watch them obsess over the underground view of their harvest.

Find It: Amazon

9. Geosafari Jr. Kidnoculars; $9

Kid-proof and specially designed for tiny hands and faces, these binoculars can help preschoolers get to know the world around them. Play a game like “I Spy” and have them find squirrels in trees, clouds in the sky, or all those Cheerios they spilled behind their bed.

Find It: Amazon

10. Dimpl Baby and Toddler Learning Toy; $13

This brightly colored sensory toy holds a young one's attention with 100% food-grade silicone bubbles they can press and poke—perfect for keeping kids occupied in a stroller or car.

Find It: Target

11. Otamatone; $30

The face on this highly kawaii ribbon synthesizer is made of rubber, and by manipulating it with one hand you can make cool sounds (the other hand controls the pitch along the ribbon controller). With a bit of practice, you can even play real music—check out this entertaining cover of "Take On Me."

Find It: Amazon

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