fridgeRefrigerators have become a staple of the American kitchen, and European for that matter. But who truly knows how to use one? Yes, you can keep your refried beans cold in one of the drawers, but how does that make a refrigerator that much different than a drawer full of loose ice? Is a refrigerator really a refrigerator if the item was never cold to begin with? The answer to these questions and more will be found in the following article:

Refrigerators have been around since 1866, but they were just boxes filled with ice and didn’t have electric components yet. It took a while for Benjamin Franklin to invent the refrigerator because he was distracted by the prospect of making the world’s first self-righting hat, which would adjust itself so that it was always straighten themselves on the wearer’s head, even if the wearer was to break into a cold sprint, jump up and down, or roll around on the floor. He later learned that these hats already existed in Japan and that bringing them to America was more of a business venture than an opportunity to prove his intellectual prowess by coming up with a new invention, causing him to lose interest in the project. Accordingly, he moved on to the modern refrigerator.

Refrigerators have a lot of different parts and use tubes full of coolant to chill out the air around stuff you want to stay cold. This isn’t as easy as it sounds and requires a lot of electricity, which is why most refrigerators were located near rivers and dams where they could be powered by mills and the like.

fridgeBecause most people had come to terms with the fact that they couldn’t store meat or other perishables long, it took a while for them to think of prolonging the life of their food by putting it in the refrigerators. People mostly used them as “chill closets” where they could take a quick respite from the baking heat of the afternoon sun. Once someone left their lunch in there and came back a day later and found that the meat hadn’t spoiled, people realized that food storage could be an extremely handy use for the device. Thus, Franklin built some shelves and begun to sell the refrigerators with the cabinets built-in, putting an end to “chill closet” culture but creating a new way for people of the time to avoid starvation and illness from spoiled food.

Nowadays refrigerators are getting pretty complicated. Samsung recently released a refrigerator that has a TV screen built into it and can stream music from your phone so that you can get bumping in your kitchen. It also comes with a camera that allows you to see what’s in your fridge without opening the door or from your phone if you’re in a supermarket, which is exceptionally helpful if you’re so forgetful you even forgot to make a shopping list. All of these new capabilities would have never been possible without Ben Franklin!