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The Kitchen Cabinet

The High-Tech Look of Appliances of the '80s Yields to Nostalgia of Older Designs

August 13, 1987|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

The revived looks of the '50s are bringing back the good old days and blending with the High Tech features in appliances for the '80s. As dramatic strides in the development of ultramodern electronic appliances are made, there also seems to be a return to much older designs. The ventures are scattered, but here are some of the nostalgic choices:

Virtually unchanged since its introduction during World War II as the first automatic toaster with radiant bimetallic sensor control is Sunbeam's 20030 Toaster ($78.95).

Consumer interest has been sparked by watching bread slices lowered, toasted and then popped up. Today the toaster continues to be a hot seller not just for looks but for efficiency. Super-shiny with its heavily chrome-plated, rounded body, the 1,375-watt toaster has extra-wide wells so convenient for that larger slice of bread.

"The 20030 is truly the 'Rolls Royce' of toasters today," said Wayne R. Smith, public relations consultant for Sunbeam. "It operates in a unique fashion and I don't think any other toaster utilizes that system. It 'reads' the surface temperature of the bread product being toasted rather than operating on a time basis. In setting the color selector of most toasters, you simply select a time period for the bread to toast."

Sunbeam's toaster features a "radiant control" that senses moisture in the bread for uniform toasting. "Thus different types of bread toast to the degree desired," Smith added. "For example, if you use a piece of frozen bread, a timer toaster toasts it for the time period selected. If it is done, fine. If not, the toaster pops it up anyway. The 20030 would continue the toasting operation until the bread reaches the doneness stage for which you programmed it with the selector."

The OJ juicer from Metro Kane Imports, Ltd. in New York may be making a contemporary statement but its classic looks and working principle go back in time to the lever-type juicers or "pressers" of the early '30s. Made of all die-cast metal and finished in baked enamel with a polished chrome head and handle, Mighty OJ ($35) stands eight inches tall with "mouth" closed and has rubber feet that grip any surface.

A more sophisticated upgrade from the same company is the Silver OJ ($50), which was selected by New York's Museum of Modern Art for its 1984 catalogue collection. Engineered in highly polished chromium plating to simulate sterling, it's a solid all-metal unit that operates with the powerful "rack and pinion" gear system used in commercial juicers.

The more serious fresh-orange-juice squeezer may choose the Citrus Pro ($145), which was originally designed for restaurants and hotels. The machine is available in highly polished chrome with matte black handle and dome or in white baked enamel.

Other newcomers utilizing old designs are the Ice Man ($25) and Milk Man ($12), also from Metro Kane, a company that takes old ideas and molds them into High Tech forms. The Ice Man is a portable "fridge" lunch box that's perfect for work, school, office, beach, picnics and for car, boat or plane trips. It sports a sleek design in red, white, cobalt blue and green plastic, with black handle and adjustable shoulder strap. A fun version of the "construction workers" lunch box, the lunch kit comes with a freezable blue gel that snaps into the lid, keeping the interior cold for hours.

The Milk Man is a thermos jug patterned after the classic "milk bottle" design. Made with insulated glass lining and double-wall construction, the compact bottle keeps all beverages hot or cold for eight hours or more. The compact Milk Man comes in combinations of white, red, black and cobalt blue.

The Sunbeam 20030 Toaster is available at Bullock's. The Metrokane Mighty and Silver OJ and Citrus Pro juicers are available at Bullock's (Los Angeles), Industrial Revolution (Los Angeles), Koontz Hardware (Los Angeles) and L. A. U. S. A. (Santa Monica). The Milk Man is available at Malibu Art and Design (Malibu). The Ice Man is available at In Gear (Los Angeles).

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