A hundred-years-ago, Good Housekeeping had a monthly feature on “Tested Helps for Housekeepers” which showcased new kitchen gadgets and appliances that had received the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.
One item that got the seal of approval was the Sharpless Bread-Mixer:
This machine will make bread of uniformly excellent quality in inexperienced hands. The principle of operation is radically different from other machines or from that used in making bread by hand. The liquid ingredients and softened yeast are placed in the lower section and the flour above, separated by a sifting-screen. Turning the crank sifts through just as much flour at one stroke as the beating paddles can thoroughly mix with the liquid.
Thus, as soon as all the flour is sifted through the bread is “mixed” and ready for its first raising. The whole process requires less than a minute for five pounds of bread, and when raised the can be immediately molded into loaves for baking.
Many housekeepers ask if machine-made bread is better than that made by hand. It is invariably better when compared with that made by inexperienced cooks. . . It is therefore safe to say that home-made machine bread will be an improvement over the hand-made variety in ninety percent of homes. . .
The price is $8.00 delivered.
Good Housekeeping (March, 1916)
56 thoughts on “Sharpless Bread Maker”
How interesting, I thought bread makers were only about thirty years old!! I had one once, only used it for making sweet rolls, as I had to make 12 loaves at a time to keep bread around for my crew of nine.
I also was surprised by how long they’ve been around. You definitely made bread on a much larger scale than what I do. I think that 3 loaves is the most that I’ve ever made at a time.
Hey I need one of them.. If my arm is strong enough to turn the handle! LOL
🙂 Cooking gadgets have been around for a long time.
I wonder how many were sold and how long it was on the market. Women really had a lot of work back in the day.
That would be interesting to know. I wonder if they ever turn up at flea markets or on Ebay.
How interesting. I wish you could see a 3 part series which has just been on British TV. In it, 4 modern bakers were sent to work in traditional bakeries from the early, middle and late Victorian period. Only by 1900 was there any kind of mechanised help at all. If you can’t see this link, tell me, and I’ll try to find another: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06vn7sj
I love these kind of TV programs. I hope they show it sometime here in the USA. Thanks for the link.
Glad it worked!
What a fun concept for a program. Thanks for the link.
Great link! Loved the kitschy Victorian cake!
It was amazing. Just like a wobbly blancmange.
It is interesting that Lydia Coale Sharpless applied for patents in 1901 for both the process of making bread (https://www.google.com/patents/US766398) and the apparatus itself (https://www.google.com/patents/US710619). She would apply again in 1906 for a patent for an improved bread making machine (https://www.google.com/patents/US903239).
Interesting. . .
That machine doesn’t look like a time saver to me 🙂
No, but it might have saved on a few muscles 😉
It looks big, but kind of clunky to me.
Fascinating! I’ll stick with my KitchenAid mixer with its bread hook, thank you!
Modern technology definitely has some advantages. 🙂
The ad was marketed to the “inexperienced cook” and it would not improve the experience cook’s loaf. I wonder if they sold many of these bread makers.
Good point – I think that if I had a choice, I’d choose the bread made by an experienced cook. It’s interesting that it’s not marketed as a time saver.
It’s like my bread maker!
It’s the non-electric model. 🙂
Haha. We don’t like to work our ovens and ranges too hard today for anything. That’s why I had to get a rice maker recently.
This looks like quite a bulky and heavy machine. Or maybe it’s just the photo. Interesting.
It must have been pretty large. It says that it makes 5 pounds of bread in less than a minute. Of course they had larger families back then, so people probably made bread on a much larger scale then they typically do now.
Hmmmm…. saying it would improve the bread in 90% of homes suggests things already were changing. I had to laugh. Every time I looked at the caption, I read, “Shapeless bread maker.” Why would anyone want shapeless bread? I thought.
LOL – shapeless bread doesn’t sound very appetizing. 🙂 Your comment makes me wonder when factory-made bread became readily available.
I don’t recall ever hearing about my mom/grandmother making bread. I’ve heard that my grandmother made dozens of homemade biscuits EVERY morning for her family of 14.
Whew, that sounds like a lot of work. There probably were regional variations in whether people made bread or biscuits.
I believe mine was a biscuit family, too. Biscuits and pie crusts and dumplings. The recipes that I learned from my mother were non-yeast recipes. I wonder if it is a country vs. city difference? My family were Indiana farmers.
It might partially be an urban/rural thing, but I’m thinking that there are also regional diifferences. I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania and we never ate biscuits.
I need one of these – and at that price! 😉 ~Elle
It’s a good deal . . .and it has the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. 🙂
Eye-opening for us young generation!
Eight dollars seems like a lot 100 years ago. I hope it worked as well as they claimed! 🙂
You’re absolutely right, it would have been a pricey gadget. According to an online inflation calculator, a $1 in 1916 would be worth about $22 today. So something that cost $8 back then would be worth about $176 today. At that price it better have worked welll. 🙂
And there I had visions of all that hand mixing!
Even a hundred years ago, some people apparently went high tech when it came to making bread. 🙂
All I can think of is how much counter space it would take and how hard it would be to clean!
You and I think alike. 🙂
I wonder if this product became popular or not? I’ve never seen one before (only the newer bread makers that were all the rage about twenty years ago). Very interesting!
Who knows – I did look for one on Ebay several days ago, but none popped up. Since many vintage items are easy to find on Ebay, maybe it says something about the popularity (or lack of popularity) of the Sharpless Bread Maker.
What a unique item! Love your blog and learning about the history of cooking/baking 🙂
It’s nice to hear that you enjoy A Hundred Years Ago.
Just dumped our modern bread maker because it just did not work well. It did 10 years ago. It was an easy give away because beautiful, healthy bread is made in our cities daily. We pay, bakers have a job. I love traveling from bakery to bakery in each little town. Our freezer is full of bread. I’ll back off for awhile.
I agree – Artisan bakeries make some awesome breads.
Very very cool! I had no idea that they had bread machines that early on!
Looks like a bit of a scary contraption though…hehehe
I also was surprised that there were bread-making machines a hundred years ago. Now that you mention it, it does look a bit scary. 🙂
haha maybe it’s just the ominous black and white of the photo 😛
I added a link to your blog on my blog list roll! I have been wanting to do that for a long time and finally did it this morning! Have a wonderful rest of your weekend my friend! Hugz Lisa and Bear
Thank you! I’m honored that you think A Hundred Years Ago is worthy of including on your blog list roll.
Well that is quite the bread making machine! We sure have come a long way with today’s bread makers!!
We sure have!
Wow, who knew they made those so long ago? 🙂
I also was surprised that bread makers existed a hundred years ago — though it looks very primitive by today’s standards. 🙂