I miss the microwave oven (or just “microwave” as it’s popularly known today) most when we boondock or tent camp. This fabulous invention can thaw, cook, and reheat almost any food that fits inside it. Most likely you have one inside your RV and use it too. Those hamburgers you grilled last night? Pop leftovers into the microwave and enjoy the “yum” one more time.
Over 90 percent of Americans use a microwave oven in their homes today. It’s heralded as the number one technology that makes everyday life easier. I’d have to agree, wouldn’t you? But how did the microwave oven come about? Let’s look at the history of the microwave oven.
The history of the microwave oven
You may be surprised to know that this modern convenience came about because of an accident involving a melted candy bar. Yum! I know you’re craving to know more, so read on!
The unlikely scientist behind the history of the microwave
Percy Spenser was an unlikely scientist. Percy never completed grammar school, yet taught himself enough to eventually become employed by the Raytheon Manufacturing Company. (Yep. That’s the same company that continues to produce military training systems and more today.) Percy was well known as a problem solver throughout the company. He earned several patents for his work with radar magnetrons.
Radar magnetrons and a candy bar
One day in 1946, Percy Spenser was working to increase the power of a radar magnetron when he reached into his pocket, preparing to have a snack. To his surprise, his snack, a peanut cluster bark was melted! Ever curious, Percy put a raw egg under the magnetron tube. It exploded! Corn kernels produced a much tastier result, popcorn, which Percy excitedly shared with his coworkers.
As a next step, Percy fashioned a metal box and then introduced microwaves into it. Percy found that the metal held the microwaves inside and foods heated at a much faster rate inside his “box” than in a conventional oven. The microwave oven was born!
Not an overnight success
It took years for the microwave to win the favor of American consumers. Many feared that the microwaves might negatively impact their health. Other folks balked at the size and cost of the first microwave ovens. Raytheon’s original Radarange stood 5.5 feet tall and weighed 750 pounds! Not only that—the Radarange cost a whopping $5,000!
Over time, the size and cost of Percy’s invention were reduced. In 1965, Amana introduced its “Radarange.” At a cost of just under $500 and a nifty countertop size, consumers finally jumped on board. And that is the history of the microwave! We’ve been cooking with them ever since.
What’s your favorite food to microwave? Share with us, please!
Oh, and if you’re craving popcorn right now, this is for you.
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