One of the few commonalities that links virtually every culture in the world, the art of cooking is a shared past-time that is ubiquitous across the entire globe.
While the style, dishes and flavours may differ from border to border, cooking is a process that has become as ingrained into our daily routine as life’s other essentials such as sleep, washing and, of course, Facebook.
However, much like many of life’s other long-standing rituals, the roots of cooking in general are largely deemed to be a mystery and the origin of cooking food for consumption remains a hotly debated subject in historical circles.
With that in mind, let’s turn up the heat and serve up a searing feast of juicy food for thought that will leave your historical taste buds satiated and satisfied with no room for seconds.
Hot Stuff: An Oven History Timeline
While the exact starting line for cooking with fire is unknown – believed by some to be anywhere as far back as a two million years ago – ovens have been in widespread use for considerably less time, despite what The Flintstones may have taught us.
While the ancient Greeks are often credited for their use of simple “ovens” for baking bread (namely the front-loaded bread oven), the first evidence of legitimate oven-like technology in the UK was believed to have occurred in the middle ages.
Sizeable brick hearths were constructed to house large fire pits, where metal cauldrons containing food were hung above for heating, effectively creating the first bonafide “oven” as we know it.
The first historical recording of a purpose-built oven was said to have originated in 1490 in Alsace, France. From there, a variety of innovations ultimately led to the invention of cast ovens in the 1700s, where Germany’s five-plate/jamb stove models were produced in mass quantities.
This German technology paved the way for the first recorded enclosed oven soon after, known as the castrol stove/stew stove. Further innovation occurred at the tail end of the century with the first stove to feature an adjustable temperature.
Gas and Electric
Things began to heat up in the 1800s with introduction of gas cooking. The first gas oven was patented by inventive Brit, James Sharp, way back in 1826 and gas ovens had become a staple of the British kitchen by the 1920s.
Not to be outdone, electric ovens were in hot pursuit, arriving on the scene in the late 19th century. Despite this fact, once again, it wasn’t until the ‘20s and ‘30s that electric ovens really began to get a widespread buzz.
The invention of the electric oven is commonly attributed to the mind of Canadian inventor, Thomas Ahearn, in 1882; however, his invention was used exclusively in the Windsor Hotel in Ottawa.
The first official US patent for an electric oven was issued to William Hadaway in 1896. Coincidentally, Hadaway would also go on to invent the toaster 14 years later, revolutionising breakfast as we know it!
Magic Microwave: TV Dinners Catch Fire
When it comes to modern technological breakthroughs in cooking, few innovations can compare to the microwave oven. Incredibly, what has become an essential item in kitchens across the globe, the microwave was actually invented by a man who never even finished grammar school.
An Unlikely Hero
Percy Spencer was forced to leave school at the tender age of 12-years-old for work, after his father died, his mother deserted him and he was left in the care of his aunt and uncle (the latter of whom also passed away).
Despite this fact, Spencer remained hungry for knowledge and eventually became a self-taught expert in radio technology, owing his education to countless textbooks, which he read while he was on night watch in the US Navy.
Knowledge is Power
The studious reading paid off – particularly for those looking to go undetected by the Navy during the night – and Spencer subsequently taught himself a variety of skills, including trigonometry, calculus, chemistry, physics and metallurgy.
His studies saw him become world-renowned in the field of radar tube design and a well-respected expert during World War 2, where he was a pivotal part of Raytheon – a major US defence contractor concerned with the manufacture of weapons and military electronics.
Under the Radar
While standing in front of an active radar, Spencer noticed a chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. The incident proved to be a eureka moment for the curious tech-wiz and led to additional investigation, ultimately culminating in the Radarange in 1946 – the first commercially produced microwave oven.
The result was incredible. Better yet, the result was edible! The invention proved to be revolutionary and was quite literally the best thing since sliced bread…which had been invented two decades earlier.
So, there you have it – a brief oven history of cooking! While technology has undoubtedly come a long way since the days of the Greek front-loaded bread oven, even modern ovens aren’t indestructible. If your oven is causing you aggro or your need any oven parts to keep your kitchen feeling the heat, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 02920 452 510 or get in touch online by clicking the button below.
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