The 120 year old in my kitchen
YEP, there’s a 120 year old in my kitchen that is doing just fine. It has only one moving part, three if you count the wing nut and the bench fastening screw.
It is my Universal No. 1 Food Chopper, made by L.F. & C. in New Britain, Connecticut. The design was first patented on October 12, 1897 and an improved design on April 18, 1899.
George M. Landers had been doing business in New Britain for over 20 years, before the business was incorporated as Landers, Frary & Clark in 1862. Speaking in 1955, L.F.& C President, Richard White, said it was the success of the Universal Bread maker (a gold medal winner at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904), the Universal Food Chopper and the Coffee Percolator that helped establish Landers, Frary & Clark as a leader in the US housewares industry.
The company was acquired by General Electric in 1965 but, in 1984, some of the non-electric kitchenware assets were bought by Universal Housewares, who still market "Universal" meat grinders and coffee mills. The grinders you see in the window of a kitchen goods shop are probably the great grand kids of my machine.
This Universal Food Chopper was probably a wedding gift to my grandmother, Celestine McMillan when she married in 1915. By that time the design had lost much of the shouty ornamentation of earlier models. These were adorned with the name and origins in bold mouldings. My chopper has the details in small lettering, giving it a more sleek appearance.
I acquired the Chopper from my thoroughly modern mother. By the 1970s, she was equipped with electric fry pan, Mixmaster, food blender and her own car, so this relic of a bygone kitchen practice came to me as I was declaring independence from the family home.