100 Years Ago – Handy Kitchen Gadgets

This post is another installment in the 100 Years Ago series based on writings found in a home reference manual written in 1902.

100 year old book

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget? That was the topic of an internet discussion forum I was reading this week. The answers ranged from loving fancy machinery like kitchen aide mixers or espresso machines to feeling that humble things like potato peelers or knives were the most valuable.

(My favorite gadget by the way? Crockpot!)

So it was interesting timing that after I finished reading what we modern day women consider our necessary kitchen gadgets, that I came across an entry in my antique book about the same subject.

The first gadget they mentioned? A clock.

“Since American enterprise has succeeded in supplying cheap time-keepers of reliable performance every kitchen should include a clock in its outfit.”

Yup, no excuses folks. They’re cheap now. Get yourself a clock.

How many of us modern women would have answered “clock” when asked for our favorite kitchen gadget. But back in the good old days before every house had a clock, it must have been much harder to time how long your food had been baking.

The passage then goes on to say they won’t take the time to mention all the usual kitchen necessities, but instead will list the handy items you may have overlooked. Here’s the list:

“A small brush – for cleaning vegetables which are cooked in their skins, as potatoes and beets;

A pair of sharp pointed scissors – for opening fish, small birds, etc.

A wall pinchushon containing besides pins and needles, a large darning needle – for sewing up poultry;

A bag with thimble, coarse thread, and soft cotton – for your darning needle;

Twine and narrow strips of muslin – for tying up bunches of asparagus ready for cooking;

A coarsely crocheted or netted bag for boiling cauliflower;

Several small boards to set hot pots and pans on while dishing their contents;”

. . . . and last but not least (my favorite) . . .

“A linked chain dishcloth for scouring the inside of pots and pans when they have been used to cook any article that sticks.”

A chain mail dishcloth? Seriously? How does that even work? I’m feeling pretty thankful right about now for my nylon net scrubbie.

And I think the next time I’m wishing for some fun new appliance {{ Nu Wave Oven maybe? }}, I’ll try to remember that once upon a time women were thankful for a sharp pointed scissors, a darning needle and some small boards.

And a cheap trusty clock.

Need a few more bright ideas?
Sign up for the monthly email newsletter to learn about my latest content and tips for frugal homemade living.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I have my Grandmother’s “linked chain dishcloth.” It’s roughly circular with a 6 inch diameter. Each link is slightly larger than 1/2 inch in diameter. I used it not long ago when I burned some oatmeal in a pan. For some unknown reason she called it a ” booracka” and said her children teethed on it.

    1. I thought I was pretty familiar with most needlecrafts but I didn’t know about linked chain dishcloths. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think the term “linked chain” just refers to the style of stitch used to crochet the dishcloth. Or did it actually refer to chain mail?

    1. Oh, maybe you’re right! I don’t do much crocheting so quickly assumed it was something like chain mail – which doesn’t make much sense for a dishcloth!

      1. You can find stainless steel chain mail scrubbers on Amazon. They’re mainly used for cast iron pots and pans ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I’m not a blogger but, I have to let you know that I find your blog very useful and I love the info your sharing from 100 Years Ago!