Childhood Memories Friday: 1970s Microwaves

Childhood Memories Friday

The other day, I was thinking about how far technology has come in my lifetime. Now we have smartphones and computers that can do almost anything. But one of the first technological marvels I remember from my childhood was the microwave oven.

1970s Microwaves

We got a microwave when I was in junior high or high school, I would guess. Maybe in the late 1970s? Prior to that, when you wanted to heat up a leftover, you could either put it into a pan, or use the double boiler. For the double boiler, you’d get a pan, fill it with about an inch of water, and set it on one of the stove’s burners. There was a smaller, shallower, pan that would fit inside the lip of the pan. You’d put your food in there, and as the water in the lower part boiled, it would heat up the item you were wanting hot. The whole process took 15-20 minutes or so.

So, to be able to pop a leftover into the microwave and have it hot in under a minute seemed like a small miracle.

Those early microwaves were HUGE — no over-the-stove models. They were deep, and claimed a lot of counter space. But who cared? They could heat up things so fast! 1970s microwaves also came with meat probes, because homemakers even tried baking the Thanksgiving turkey in the microwave. Girls in my 4-H club eagerly gave demonstrations about how to make cookies in the microwave. They never tasted that great, and they looked worse (microwaves don’t brown things), but who cared? WE MADE THEM IN THE MICROWAVE!

I took full advantage of the marvelous microwave during my teenage years. I loved mixing up batches of raisin bran muffin dough and storing it in the fridge. Each morning, I’d put a scoop of the dough onto a plate, pop it into the microwave, and voila! About a minute later, I’d have a fresh muffin. Would the wonders never cease?

Here’s a link to an early microwaves commercial, to bring back more memories:

Video credit: MrClassicAds1970s
Check out the price — $499, 40 years ago? Wow. These days, I bet you can score a microwave for under $100. It’s one of those few items where the price has actually gone down.

Do you remember getting your first microwave oven? Share your memories in the comments!

6 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: 1970s Microwaves

  1. Years before we purchased a microwave I listened to people saying how dangerous they were. To this day I have a close relative who will not use one! When we got one, it seemed to change some things forever with our family. We always ate meals together as a family but when we got a microwave, for a lighter meal, some would just go heat up their portion when they felt led to eat. I was one of them that did.
    I just finished looking through a book I have where I write down nearly EVERYTHING about my life. I thought I would find when we bought our first microwave and what it cost. I may have mised it, as I did not find it. For years I wrote that information down on a certain paper. Once I was housecleaning and changed where I put that special paper and it seems to be forever lost! I did find we bought our one and only washer in 1975 and we paid $415 for it. We got a wringer washer in 1960 and the normal one in 1975 so in my adult life, I have owned 2 washers! I’ll bet very few could say they had that few!

  2. My two washers were both Maytags! That repairman gets few calls!

  3. My husband and I got our first microwave in the late 1970’s. It was loud and large, taking up precious counter space, but we loved it. It came with its own cookbook so I was always trying new foods and recipes. Some were good, some were bad. It truly was a new way of cooking. I remember a specially designed dish used to cook bacon. Now I mostly just reheat foods but I do like the steamed veggies in their special bags.

  4. For me, the microwave’s biggest impact was in heating water. I boiled water for lots of things and going from minutes to seconds was huge! I kind of miss hearing the whistle of the teapot though 🙂

  5. Microwaves were and still are a wonderful invention. We got our first microwave when Carl who would now be 58) was in high school, because he was on the swim team and had to eat something quick to make it on time to swim practices and swim meets. I believe that we bought it at Sears for maybe $299 or something like that. They had already come down about 1/3 by then in the mid-70s. Now for the first time my current micro wave is attached to my stove, which I prefer over a separate unit. And I still use it almost daily, mostly to warm up coffee or leftovers or for steaming vegetables quickly. I would never want to be without a microwave.

  6. For me, the jury is still out regarding microwaves. I was never exposed to one before returning from Africa. There was a sharp learning curve, because I didn’t realize you couldn’t cook in them. I still doubt they are healthy. I definitely try to avoid heating foods in them if the foods are in plastic. After having been diagnosed with two cancers, I’m pretty suspicious when it comes to the implications of them on one’s health.

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