The Life-Cycle of a Marmalade Machine: An Analysis of Objects for Food Preparation, c. 1870-1950

The Life-Cycle of a Marmalade Machine: An Analysis of Objects for Food Preparation, c. 1870-1950
28 Sep 2017, 17:30 to 28 Sep 2017, 19:30
IHR North American History Room, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Katie Carpenter, Royal Holloway

In 1868, Frederick William Follows founded agricultural company Follows and Bate, in Gorton, Manchester. Later, they began producing domestic technologies for the preparation of food. Amongst their many inventions, the company produced marmalade machines- cast-iron gadgets that clamped to the kitchen table, designed to slice orange peel as an ingredient in marmalade. Throughout the company’s history, the marmalade machine was adapted and renamed numerous times.

This paper will examine the marmalade machine throughout its various incarnations, from the Victorian period onwards. Using source material such as trade catalogues, patents of inventions and the machines themselves, I consider how food and cooking were represented and experienced by contemporaries.

In particular, I am concerned with what the analysis of the marmalade machine can reveal about domestic behaviour, especially in activities such as cooking and cleaning. Whilst labour-saving technologies ultimately did not liberate women from the home, this paper puts the inventions made for food production at the centre of analysis, to illuminate our understanding of the experience of domestic labour and technology. The life-cycle of the marmalade machine will be studied, from its design, to its production, sale, and eventual use in the home. Finally, I assess the ‘afterlife’ of marmalade machines by examining case studies of families who have passed them down generations and continue to use them, and museums that display them.

As part of this paper, I will bring a few marmalade machines for the audience to handle.


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