When form, as they say, follows function, it can be a beautiful thing. Even in a century that brought us the Veg-O-Matic and the AMC Pacer, machines occasionally mesh with the jobs they're supposed to do. And in this age of planned obsolescence, it's nice to know that there exist certain perfect things, that no quantity of microchips or high-impact plastic will ever be able to improve.
50th Anniversary Waring blender. In 1935, fancy cocktails were in, the Depression was on its way out, and any host worth his salt whirred his newly fashionable margaritas in the original version of this heavy, stylish machine. The base is chromed Art Deco, sort of a round ziggurat kind of thing, and the capacious 40-ounce container, almost thick enough to stop bullets, is glass. The blades, nonremovable, are made of sharpened steel. The motor will go on forever. This is a machine of limited choices--Hi, Lo or Off; none of your namby-pamby pulse or puree controls--because this is a man's blender. If you want to make quiche, Jack, use a Cuisinart. About $110.
Martini strainer. A classic martini shaker might be one of the most beautiful objects ever manufactured, the gleaming chrome embodiment of illegal Jazz Age refreshment and all that's slightly dangerous about booze. The catch, of course, is that nobody but James Bond ever loved a shaken martini, which can end up both cloudy and over diluted. Martinis are made to be stirred. So logically, this inexpensive gizmo, spring-loaded and neatly adaptable to any size cocktail pitcher, should be the real symbol of the era. Unimproved upon since, it kept the pesky ice out of F. Scott Fitzgerald's (crystal-clear) drinks. About $3.50.