What is this?

May 14, 2013 · Collections, Exhibits ·

thumbnailOur exhibit, Making Connecticut, showcases over 500 objects, images, and documents from the CHS collection. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its importance in Connecticut history every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it? To find out more,

universal food chopper poster

Poster for Landers, Frary & Clark, the “Universal food chopper, and a few of the things it chops,” New Britain, about 1899.

One of the most bizarre objects in Making Connecticut—and the CHS collection—is a poster advertising the “‘Universal’ Food Chopper”, manufactured by Landers, Frary & Clark from New Britain, Connecticut from about 1899. It’s comically disturbing; you’re not sure if you should cringe or laugh at it. Yet, no food group is safe in the suicidal cyclone of the food grinder. A cow, celery stalk, head of lettuce, lobster, half a coconut—among many others—are racing to be used by Landers, Frary & Clark’s newly patented product.

Universal Food Chopper, No. 2

Universal Food and Meat Chopper No. 2, made by Union Manufacturing Company, Meriden, about 1974, gift of Brian Osborn.

The message is clearly illustrated—that the chopper can grind any food that’s put into it—but you have to wonder if this is the best way to showcase your new product. While it’s creepy that the animals look so placid and doe-eyed about their fate, it’s difficult to see how else the artist would have portrayed them. Surely they wouldn’t be smiling and jolly at this moment.

The food chopper is displayed in our “Modern Kitchen” section because the product—despite it’s age—it’s still being used today; a testament to it’s manufacturing and design. Though, I’m pretty sure a pig can’t fit in it.

Mike Messina is the Interpretive Projects Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society.

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