In 1908 Herbert Johnson, an engineer for the Hobart Manufacturing Company, invented an electric standing mixer. His inspiration came from observing a baker mixing bread dough with a metal spoon. By 1915, his 80-quart mixer was standard equipment for most large bakeries. In 1919 Hobart introduced the KitchenAid Food Preparer (stand mixer) for the home.
KitchenAid may have been first, but the widespread acceptance of the electric standing mixer actually belongs to the Sunbeam MixMaster. The Sunbeam Corporation began as the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company. The company began producing small appliances in 1910, under a name they called Sunbeam. They hired a young mechanical engineer/designer from Sweden named Ivar Jepson in 1925. The first Sunbeam Mixmaster appeared in 1930 (it got its earliest patents in 1928-29). By the 1940s, the Sunbeam name was so identifiable that the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company formally changed its name to the Sunbeam Corporation.
Sold at a fraction of the KitchenAid’s price (in the early 1930s, it retailed for $18.25, about $260 in 2008 dollars), the MixMaster caught on like wildfire. Within six years of its 1930 introduction — and at the height of the Depression — the company was selling 300,000 MixMasters a year.
The Mixmaster epitomized the innovation that marked the Great Depression’s impact on design and technology in the 1930s. In a seeming paradox, the strained economic times propelled the creation of many new products that inspired families to spend their scarce dollars and, at the same time, introduced the streamlined styling that is revered today. The Mixmaster’s solid design and appearance changed very little from 1930 to 1967 though it continued for decades later through many corporate changes.
The Mixmaster of the 1930s not only beat cake batters. A multi-tasking miracle, its many attachments (stored in a custom cabinet) were used to shell peas, grind meat and coffee, peel potatoes, chop, slice or shred vegetables, juice fruits, sharpen knives, open cans and polish silver. The machine promised to take the hard work out of kitchen tasks as well as save money—by making foods go further and by helping to prepare flavorful foods that cost less than store-bought cakes or sausages. It offered functional benefits such as bowls that turned by themselves and off-center beaters that spun while scraping the inside of the bowls.
In the color center spread of a user’s manual of that time, notice the claims that are clues to the technological issues of the times: “mixes every atom thoroughly” and “the only food mixer that does not interfere with radio reception.” In today’s kitchens, we still seek “powerful, sturdy, efficient, silent” appliances with “no noise or racket” and expect their operation won’t cause static for TV or internet reception!
Sunbeam Model 5
The Mixmaster gets a new look. Along with Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz 1939 brings new styling to the Mixmaster. Horizontal vents in the front grill and a full cap speed control. Available in black and white with white bowls (5B) or cream with jadeite bowls (5A). This model is the last with chrome tips where the beaters are inserted. There is also a model with a chrome bowl turntable.
Beginning August 1939
Sunbeam Model 12
This Mixmaster was made between 1957 and 1967. Features first 12 speed mixer, actually it runs the same speed as the Model11, Sunbeam changed the speed dial to show 12 different settings. New style decals. Last of the classic model Sunbeam Mixmaster. It was available in Chrome, White, Yellow, Pink and Turquoise.
You can pick these up pretty cheap at the flea market, Goodwill, or at garage sales. I think mine were both $5. Look at DecoDan, a website that has tons of information on Mixmasters.