18 cool things about refrigerators

By Aditya Madanapalle | Updated 1 Jul 2019
18 cool things about refrigerators
The humble fridge has revolutionised the way we eat, brought down entire industries, found its way into record books and even torn a hole in the sky. There is a lot more to this household appliance than meets the eye.
 

1. Being able to store food for longer really revolutionised the way we eat. It allowed food to be transported over larger distances and was particularly helpful for meat and seafood. Refrigerators also allow supermarkets to stock food in the volumes that they do. Food changed the diet of people, allowing people to eat more fresh meat. Before refrigeration, most of the meat consumed was salted. It also improved the quality of meat, as they could be salted around the year, instead of only winter. 

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2. Food purchased in bulk is cheaper. As more food can be purchased and stored in homes at a time, refrigeration has ended up making food cheaper. Out of season and exotic fruit and vegetables have become cheaper thanks to refrigeration. Fridges also help in saving time that was spent in daily shopping, and as they say, time is money. 

3. Fridges reduce wastage by preserving food for longer. Leftovers and spoilt food simply had to be thrown away. 

4. The fridge consumes a lot of electricity. 10 to 15 percent of your monthly electricity bill is because of your fridge. 

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5. The contributions of Albert Einstein was not always in theoretical physics. Along with Leo Szilard, Einstein patented a refrigerator that worked without electricity and did not use freon. Researchers at Oxford are now trying to revive the design

6. Haunted Refrigerator Night began as an old internet tradition, and involves digging deep into the recesses of your fridge to find that one abomination that has never been consumed or cleared. It is celebrated on 30 October. 

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7. 15 November is clean out your refrigerator and began as a marketing campaign by Whirlpool.  

8. Kelvinator was the first household refrigerator and was introduced to the market in 1916. Within seven years, they had 80 percent of the market share. The brand is now owned by Whirlpool.

9. The Large Hadron Collider is also the world’s largest refrigerator. There are over 9000 magnets of various shapes and sizes along the 27-kilometer long circular track, and all these magnets are cooled by helium. The temperature in this fridge is -271.3 degrees Celsius. 

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10. In the early days of refrigerators, they were once gendered objects, as it was the women in the household who primarily used them. Refrigerator companies had to hire female experts to deal with their actual customers, whose job was to actually interpret and translate between the male executives of the company and their female customers. One of these “cultural brokers” at a company called Servel, Lurelle Guild believed that a butter tray at the door of the fridge was a great idea, as the door was the warmest part of the fridge. Locating the butter in a special compartment there, allowed housewives to get quick access to relatively soft butter. The company dismissed the idea considering butter was a luxury item. But history was on the side of Guild, and all the fridges of today have butter trays in the particular location, precisely for the reasons suggested by Guild. 

11. Freon was a safe, non-flammable and non-toxic refrigerant developed by General Motors in the 1920s, as an alternative to dangerous refrigerants then in use, such as ammonia. Freon was a propriety chlorofluorocarbon, or CFC, and contributes to environmental degradation, depletion of the ozone layer, and global warming. Freon was banned in 1978 by the US, and subsequently, the manufacturing was banned by the Montreal Protocol. Freon is now a registered trademark of The Chemours Company.  

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12. General Electric got into manufacturing refrigerators and other appliances so that it could get additional revenue from its primary electricity business. 

13. Louise Greenfarb has been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest fridge magnet collection. While there are about 1,000 magnets on her fridge, her entire collection extends to 35,000 magnets, which decorate other metallic objects around her house too. 

14. The LifeinaBox is a mini fridge that has an in-built battery and can plug into a fast charger. The tiny fridge ensures that medication such as insulin, adrenalin and growth hormones are stored at the right temperature while travelling. It was developed by a diabetic who wanted to ensure that his insulin was properly refrigerated over frequent trips. 

15. This is not so much a cool fact as a cold fact. Before the onset of cheap household refrigerators, there was an entire industry that involved cutting up blocks of ice from the lands of always winter, transporting them to cities, chopping them up into small cubes, and selling them to customers. Times of shortages were called “ice famines”, with prices of ice shooting up. This entire elaborate industry folded overnight, leaving people jobless. 

16. If you want to find out how energy efficient your fridge is, check for the Bureau of Energy Rating. The ratings are between one to five stars. There are separate ratings for free frost and direct cool refrigerators. The free frost models do not need periodic defrosting. The best part is you can directly select a model with a low energy footprint. 

17. Thor Bjornsson, the strongman who plays The Mountain in Game of Thrones has a rather specific Guinness World Record, one of “Fastest 20 m carrying two fridges”. He held a fridge in one hand each. The fridges were reinforced by a support structure and weighed 450 kg in total. He carried the two fridges over the 20 meters in just under 20 seconds. 

18. The section in the fridge for the vegetables is not just an arbitrary design. It is sealed off from the rest of the fridge to create an environment with low humidity. Known as the “crisping drawer”, it allows the vegetables to stay crispy.

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Aditya Madanapalle
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