The Saratoga Sun -

Keeping your cool

Retro Blog


There it sits. Holed up in a corner of your house specially designed to accommodate it.

It works tirelessly—24 hours a day, seven days a week—with little or no complaint (mine groans occasionally).

It captivates your attention for large chunks of time.

This boxy device bears the weight of your kitschy sayings, destination memories and kid’s artworks.

Of course I am talking about the relatively unheralded refrigerator.

It used to be an ice-box in simpler times, but then (as evidence automation costs jobs) it heartlessly transformed into a device that killed the ice delivery man’s job.

Since that time, “fridges” have squatted in our homes and offices stoically serving mankind.

The device is not without its devious jokes though.

Sometime in the sixties (I defy you to find out exactly when—apparently this information is classified), refrigerators began forming devious appendages known as “crispers”.

Crispers are those cute little drawers designed to “control humidity so your vegetables stay fresher longer.”

That would be fine and well if the drawers didn’t also have the mental control feature that makes you forget you ever put anything into these drawers of death.

These “convenient” drawers are called “rotters” at my house. Usually when I open these drawers that action comes with the exclamation “Oh. I DID have ________ (insert fruit or vegetable name here)!” I say DID because what is now living in these foul bins no longer resembles whatever vegetable the now-smelly mound of mold entered the cubicle of conundrum as.

I did find a good use for rotters though. They hold cans of beer remarkably well. And when you find some you forgot ... you have beer!

Refrigerator roulette

Refrigerators also have the repulsive ability to curse butter containers. Somehow you have four containers of “butter” in your fridge. Grab the wrong one though and … SURPRISE! … lasagna from three months ago. At least you think it was lasagna. It could actually have been that three bean salad from a year ago. Only keen forensic analysis might be able to discern the truth (New this fall on CBS … CSI Your Fridge).

As a disgusting matter of fact, in college my roommate and I came up with a game called “Refrigerator Roulette.” When we finally did get around to cleaning the fridge we would divvy up the butter containers (college student tupperware) and open them in our faces at the same time. This near-vomit-inducing game has taught me (sort of) to clean my refrigerator more regularly.

This game seems counter-intuitive since most college refrigerators only usually house ketchup, mustard and beer. Somehow and some way though, there was always something loathsome lurking in the dark and cold recesses.

Standing in the doorway

The humble-seeming refrigerator also uses its higher-level “forget function” to make you open the door to see what you have inside then, five minutes later, perform the same action to once again see what you have. The other human-controlling capacity your fridge has is to instill “Refrigerator Blindness (RFB).” If you are still standing in front of your open refrigerator after five minutes and still have no idea what you are looking at … you have fallen victim to RFB. RFB is currently being researched at the RFB Institute in Walla Walla, Wash., and they need your help. Phone lines are open … call now!

A bright idea

All modern and semi-modern refrigerators have lights in them. I have used this fact to see what I have in the middle of the night when peckishness strikes—standing naked in front of the only light on in the house at 3 a.m. trying to determine what will satisfy a growling stomach (a good reason not to peek into my house). All modern refrigerators have lights in their freezer compartments too. Problem is that frost can cover the bulb—so you should definitely check your freezer today. Sometimes the bulb is low in the back of the freezer so you might have to take all your frozen stuff out to get to it. If it turns out your freezer doesn’t have a light, you should probably call the manufacturer to find out why.

Big Baking Soda

There actually is a National Clean Out Your Fridge Day and it is on November 15 (please try to clean your refrigerator out before then, though). It is a “popular” rumor that the Whirlpool Corporation started the “holiday” in 1995 and originally intended it to be a moving holiday set to fall on the third Wednesday in November to accommodate oncoming Thanksgiving leftovers. As holidays go, this is probably on par with “National Clean Your Gutter Day” or “National Take Down Your Christmas Lights Day” (a lot of people don’t celebrate that one though).

The plethora of irksome smells a refrigerator can possibly accumulate is very impressive indeed, so cleaning your fridge every so often is a good idea. Your nose will thank you. So will your taste buds for that matter. Have you ever eaten something stored in a fridge with a strange smell? The food will bring that all back to unsavory life in your mouth.

Don’t let the baking soda people lie to you either. There is a claim out there that an open box of baking soda in your fridge will suck up all those anomalous aromas.

That is pure propaganda straight from Big Baking Soda.

I have seen (and smelled)fridges that could have contained ONLY baking soda and would still smell horrible.

Sorry, but the only honorable way out is to grab the cleaning equipment and apply some elbow grease.

What would we do

without it?

As much guff as I have given to the humble refrigerator it would be well to take a moment to reflect on how much this one appliance has changed and improved our standard of living. We are now able to store some food indefinitely and lots of edibles long past what would have otherwise been possible.

8 million refrigerators are sold annually in the United States and about 15 percent of American households have two refrigerators which are running faithfully even as you read this.

Is your refrigerator running? … no, I’m not going to finish that old joke. If you don’t know it, someone you know will be freakishly happy to tell it to you.

From Einstein (who held a patent on a refrigerator) to GE (who produced the first household refrigerator in 1911) and all the others (there are lots) who helped us “keep our cool,” I salute you.


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