Friday, November 13, 2009

1940's Microwave & An O'Henry Candy Bar!

The microwave oven was discovered by accident by Dr. Percy LeBaron Spencer in 1946! What started off as a test of a new vacuum tube called a magnetron for Raytheon Corporation turned into a discovery of monumental change for the world of cooking.

Standing near the testing site, Dr. Spencer was surprised to see that a candy bar he had in his pocket had suddenly melted! Imagine his surprise! Spurned on by this phenomenon, he decided to investigate further. He experimented with a few kernels of popcorn and then stood by in amazement, as they quickly heated, crackled, and burst!

Dr. Spencer then designed a metal box with an opening into which he fed microwave power. Soon the Raytheon engineers developed a bigger and better "box" based on Dr. Spencer's findings. The larger box was 5-1/2 feet tall and weighed over 750 lbs!

But, since the magnetron tube had to be water-cooled, plumbing was required so the machine was not widely accepted at first. However, after new improvements were made and successful testing was accomplished in a Boston restaurant, many other eateries became interested. The ability to keep products refrigerator-fresh until ready for use was a huge selling point and the market expanded.

The first microwave oven was presented by Raytheon in 1947. It was named the "Radarange," a name selected through an employee contest. Between 1952 - 1955, Tappan introduced the first home model which was priced at a whopping $1295! In 1965 Raytheon obtained Amana Refrigeration and soon after redesigned and sold the microwave oven for just under $500. By 1975, sales of the microwave outsold those of gas ranges. The microwave oven was here to stay!I wonder if that candy bar that Dr. Spencer had in his pocket on the day of testing was an O'Henry Bar?

(For more recipes, visit Foodie Friday !)


  1. Hi Coralie! Call me insensitive, but I'm glad somebody is up in the morning earlier than me! Good article on the history of the microwave.

  2. Just checking out your latest vintage recipe. I loved the history of microwave ovens. My dh worked for the power company and they had a promotion on Litton microwave ovens. The employees had a very good deal on them and I was given one for Christmas in the mid 1970's. I didn't even know what it was. I put it in the garage and my kids mastered it before I did. I had five, ages 10 to 18 and they made cake and all kinds of things from my microwave cook book. All while I was at work of course. I had no idea they were even using it. Laughing here. They always ate the evidence and shared it with the neighbor kids. Years later I was at a church meeting with several age groups attending. we introduced ourselves and this one young man said, "I know you, you were the first family in our neighborhood with a microwave oven." He would come home from school with my son for lunch and they heated up their sandwiches. I have had many laughs with this story. I'm sorry I was so wordy. I thought you might enjoy this story. I should have emailed it!!!

    This recipe looks like fun. When my grands visit I am going to make it. They will LOVE it.
    Hugs, Jeanne

  3. Lucy, Here's my confession about posting at 5 a.m. I hate to admit this took me a whole year and one BLOGOVERSARY to figure out how to use the Scheduling Option on Blogger. And, like a kid in a candy shop, once I knew how to use it, I use it all the time now. So I'm not really up at 5 a.m. but my postings are! Thanks for your visit and comment! I love comments!!!

  4. Jeanne, I just loved your true story of the microwave adventure at your house. Don't worry about being wordy...I love it! Thanks for sharing this today! So glad you stopped by...have fun visiting all the Foodie Friday blogs!

  5. God Bless Dr. Spencer! I don't know what I'd do without my microwave!
    Have a great day Coralie!

  6. i love hearing old stories about inventions! so interesting! i never knew this...


  7. Oh that candy really sounds yummy

  8. Hi Coralie

    Please tell me how to schedule blogs - I didn't know we could do that! Also don't know how to keep a certain post at the top of my blog so if you know the secret to that too I'd be grateful.

    Anyway, back to your post, I only discovered when and how the microwave was invented when my son was in Middle School and he did a project on it - amazing what you learn through your children. I hadn't realised they were around in the 40s.

    Must admit I don't use mine very much, I prefer using my induction hob or my electric oven to be honest.

    Great post, as usual.

  9. What a great post, Coralie! Loved the history of the microwave--I remember our first one back in the '70's--what a miracle! My dad was involved with Litton and the earlier microwaves back then. Great memories! Love the recipe, too--my kids will enjoy that one!

  10. Oh Henry bars!!! Oh Boy!! Can't wait to try this one! I loved the story of the microwave..Mine recently broke down..I never considered how much I used it, until I didn't have it. My fridge is LOADED with leftovers!! Ha!! Thanks for the great post Coralie!!

  11. What an informative post. The ladies at church are getting together and making holiday candy. This recipe will be a great addition to what we're doing :)


  12. I never knew any of that! What a great post.

  13. Not my taste but I know my husband would love it, MB

  14. I like that you added some trivia today. I had no idea that the microwave had been around so long. The recipe sounds great, but of course it is could it be anything but good?


  15. What a great story. The recipes looks quite yummy as well. Thanks for your visit.

  16. Oh those sound delicious! Thanks for linking up with the recipe swap!

  17. I don't think I've ever had an Oh Henry... sounds yummy!


  18. Hi again Coralie

    I've just made another post on my blog and noticed the little button at the bottom which says 'post options' I pressed it and found that you can schedule your posts. Wish I'd seen that before as I've been staying up until just after midnight to post some of mine! silly me!

  19. woww, i can not believe that microwave was discovered buy accident how ever i am really happy


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