Food chopper, 'No 1 Universal', cast iron / wood, made by Landers Frary & Clark, United States of America, patented 1897-1899
Gadgets like this Universal food chopper are typical of Victorian ingenuity, epitomising the extent to which even the home was becoming industrialised. As the 'Journal of Domestic Appliances' declared in 1882, 'Year by year domestic inventions of every kind are increasing; and no matter whether we desire to clean knives, or make stockings, peel potatoes, black shoes, make butter, wash clothes, stitch dresses, shell peas, or even bake our bread, all we have to do now is turn a handle¬?'. Many of these gadgets were imported from the United States with American manufacturers having a reputation for ingeniousness and labour saving.
In 1895 the cookbook writer Wilhelmina Rawson advised her readers to purchase 11 items for the kitchen and laundry including two gadgets, a mincer and a knife cleaning machine. With these she wrote encouragingly, any lady 'no matter how unaccustomed to work ¬? can do the whole of her housework with very little exertion or fatigue'. The meat mincer was particularly appealing as it also reinforced that other great Victorian ideal, thrift. By means of the mincer left overs and off cuts could be transformed into shepherd's pie or mince steak.
Mrs Lance Rawson, The Antipodean cookery book and kitchen companion, George Robertson & Co, 1895