Story Of The Blender

What would we do without the blender? No more smoothies or fancy drinks and no easy way to create pureed foods for both variety in the kitchen and special diets in the hospital. There would even be limits on scientific research as the blender is an important tool in the laboratory, used by such scientists as Jonas Salk in his search for the answer to polio.

Fortunately Stephen Poplawski got the bright idea in 1922 to add a spinning blade to the bottom of a glass jar. He did it so he could make fancy drinks for soda fountain patrons. Of course, whenever someone has a good idea, someone else thinks of a better one and so it was with the blender. Fred Osius, one of the founders of the Hamilton Beach Manufacturing Company, took on Poplawski's idea and made it better.

Back in 1910, Osius, along with LH Hamilton and Chester Beach, formed a company to make kitchen appliances, which they did successfully then, and still do very well. Then in 1933 Poplawski's soda fountain tool caught Osius' attention. He made significant improvements in Poplawski's design and patented his version. But it is a long way from patent to successful marketing and Osius needed money to follow that road.

At that time Fred Waring's big band, The Pennsylvanians, was very popular and financially successful. Waring did not start out to be a musician, however. He originally was a student in architecture and engineering at Penn State. He always retained his interest in new inventions and so seemed to Osius to be a good prospect. In fact, Waring was also searching for an easier way to make the special diet of liquefied vegetables that his doctor had prescribed to treat Waring's nagging ulcers. Thus, in 1935 when Osius talked his way into Waring's dressing room after a live broadcast at the Vanderbilt Theater in New York, Waring was all ears.

Waring put $ 25,000 into the development effort of Osius' blender. Six months later the problems with the blender still were not solved. Waring, as the primary investor, fired Osius and hired someone else to redesign it. It took a bit more time, but finally the Miracle Mixer was complete in 1937. It sold for $ 29.75 and was an immediate hit when it was introduced at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago.

The next problem was getting people to hear about this wonderful new tool. Fred Waring took on the marketing himself. He began in 1938 by changing the name of the company manufacturing the blender to the Waring Company and the tool to the Waring Blender. Then he spread the word. As a musician Waring was on the road a lot, spending much time in hotels and restaurants. He pitched his Waring Blender to the chefs and bartenders wherever he went. Next he took on the big department stores such as Bloomingdales and B. Altman. And by 1954, 1 million Waring Blenders had been sold. They are still selling today in modern versions and even a vintage reproduction of the original machine.

Waring once bragged about his Waring Blender to a St. Louis reporter. He said "This mixer is going to revolutionize American drinks" and he was right.