We all have one. We all use one from time to time- especially when we’re craving our favorite frozen margarita recipe! What a simple machine it is; and yet, how complex. It’s time to fire up the blender!
Have you ever given even a moment’s thought as to how this marvelous machine came into existence? You might just want to get to your frozen margarita recipe, or some other delectable frozen drink. But take a moment to appreciate this amazing machine that turns margarita mix and ice into the perfect “frozen concoction!”
While we have no idea why anyone would want to use a blender for anything else, the best blenders for frozen drinks didn’t really start out with that as their purpose at all. Yes, the blender is a margarita machine – but it’s so much more…
History lesson: In 1922 Stephen Poplawski, owner of the Stevens Electric Company in Racine, Wisconsin, came up with the first prototype of today’s blender. His invention was made possible through the prior efforts of two engineers, also from Racine – Chester Beach and Frederick Osius, and a master marketer, Louis Hamilton. (Are you putting the pieces together yet? Hamilton? Beach?) Yes, these were the founders of the Hamilton Beach Company.
Poplawski was the first to put spinning blades at the bottom of a container to create the very first blender. He used it to make malts and milkshakes, and he sold his invention to eager drug store owners for their soda fountain businesses. (Had there been tiki hut bars back then, no doubt they would’ve seen this as the best blender for frozen drinks – but I digress…)
In 1932, continuing to make improvements, Poplawski received patents for a machine that would reduce fruits and vegetables as well. So as you can see, the best blenders at the time were used for all sorts of things, as they are today.
Remember Frederick Osius of the Hamilton Beach Company? In 1937, Osius improved on Poplawski’s blender and named it the Miracle Mixer. With the financial backing of Fred Waring, a former engineering student and then orchestra leader (Waring had always been fascinated by new inventions and gadgets), Osius renamed the product the Waring Blender. And just in case you never looked behind the bar, still today, the respected Waring blender is the preferred margarita machine in cocktail lounges and bars around the world.
Citing technical differences with Osius six months later, Fred Waring dissolved their partnership and went solo with his own company, the Waring Corporation. He introduced his own Waring Blender later that year at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago. With a retail price tag of $29.75, word spread quickly.
Fred Waring continued to tour with his band while pitching his blender to hotels, restaurants, bars, and high-end department stores along the way. The Waring brand gained national prominence through Fred’s musical popularity, and his Waring Blender started to show up everywhere, having quickly taken its place among the best blenders on the market! Even hospitals adopted it for implementing complicated diets for their patients. Believe it or not, Dr. Jonas Salk used it while developing the Polio vaccine.
Sales of the Waring blender reached the one million mark by 1954; but while Fred Waring’s blender was exceeding milestone after milestone, another brand, Oster, was also taking shape.
In 1946, John Oster (who had been marketing his hand-operated hair clipper) decided to diversify from barber equipment to small house electrical appliances and purchased Stevens Electric, the company started by Stephen Poplawski (who invented the original blender). Soon after, the first Osterizer® blender was introduced. It went on to compete favorably with Fred Waring’s blender, appearing in many American brides’ wish lists and kitchens. In 1960, the John Oster Manufacturing Company was purchased by the Sunbeam Corporation.
Through the years the best blenders and mixers have been refined, restyled and marketed by companies known for excellent small kitchen appliances: Hamilton Beach (including Proctor Silex), Waring, KitchenAid, Cuisinart, Breville, Braun, etc. Who knew that Stephen Poplawski’s blender would turn into an indispensable item in today’s cocktail bars, pubs, restaurants, and consumer kitchens? The ultimate margarita machine!
So now you know more about blenders than you ever wanted to. But remember… next time you enjoy your favorite frozen concoction, raise a glass to Poplawski. If not for him, your frozen margarita recipe might never hav been concocted!