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Appliances History Learning Center

I've Got a Refrigerator Where My Ice Box Used to Be

Before you continue reading, how about you proceed to the kitchen and grab yourself something cool to drink. See how convenient that was? Now imagine what it was like to use snow, ice, cool streams, caves and cellars to refrigerate food in primitive times. Meat and fish were preserved in warm weather by salting or smoking. The Chinese began to expand this new method by cutting and storing ice in 1,000 B.C. Sometime around 500 B.C. Egyptians and Indians made ice on cold nights by leaving water out in pots and keeping the pots wet. They then used this ice to conserve whatever foods that they could. The road to refrigeration did not stop there of course.


The Ice House was one of the earliest forms of refrigeration. This method allowed you to gather snow or ice from the surrounding mountains or rivers, storing it in man-made structures deep in the ground to ensure the coolest temperature.

The Ice Box was introduced and patented in the 1800s by Thomas Moore, which gained popularity quite rapidly. This was the first method that allowed you to store ice inside of your home. Most Ice Boxes were made of wood and the interior was lined with tin, cork or zinc. However, nothing is perfect. A drip tray was placed underneath the box to catch the melting ice. Some also used sawdust or seaweed to preserve their blocks of ice so it would stay cooler for longer amounts of time.


The use of the Ice Box lasted well into the 1920’s and 1930’s. To take things up a notch, an alternate form of refrigeration was introduced during this time. Fred W. Wolf invented the first commercial electric refrigerator in the United States. It was sold for the first time in 1913 where an air-cooled refrigeration unit was mounted on top of an icebox. During this time this invention was not available to everyone. It was difficult to mass produce such a product so most electric fridges were owned by the upper class.

The 1940’s played a big role in the way our refrigerators look today. The bottom-cooling refrigerator was finally able to be mass-produced, making it affordable to others besides the upper class. It marked a time when the majority of Americans owned a refrigerator. The refrigerator of the 1940’s ensured safe food storage and safety.


Modern refrigerators have come a long way. Since the 1950’s these improvements have continued to bring consumers various designs and energy-efficient refrigerators to choose from. Some even have the vintage look dating back to the 1940’s-50 with all the specs of a 21st century refrigerator. The perks of being able to purchase a refrigerator in our day and time is the simple fact that we have so many options to choose from.

From bottom freezers, to top freezers, French door designs, counter depth or built-in options, customizable panel ready refrigerators and much more, the sky is the limit. Actually the limit might be your kitchen but still the possibilities are endless. Pick your style, consider what size is best, think about what features you are looking for, choose your color preference, and click Add to Cart.