What was a Hoosier Cabinet?

All through the 1600s-1700s-1800s and even early 1900s, homes did not have built-in cabinetry. The family kitchen was usually a separate building outside the main house or the use of a fireplace in the family house was the ‘kitchen’. By the late 1800s, the setting up of a family kitchen became popular. Not just for cooking but to store dishes and cookware and have a table to eat at. It was known as ‘Efficiency Kitchen’.

To help make an efficient kitchen, cabinets were needed – no built-in one rather free-standing cabinet with workspaces, drawer and open-door cabinets altogether. A company helped in that development. The Hoosier Manufacturing Co. in 1899 in Indiana, came up with ideas to make a kitchen efficient with a new type of cabinet. They referred to the new larger cabinet as a one-stop-shop for all kitchen needs. Their promotion stated it would save thousands of steps by having everything needed to prepare a meal in one spot. Prices ranged based on the overall size of the cabinet. In the 1910s, the prices were $9.65, $16.95, $21.25, and the largest was $32.75.

Other companies developed additions to the new cabinets such as glassware, spice jars and canisters that fit perfectly in the Hoosier Cabinets. Into the early 1920s, the popular new cabinets were also being manufactured by other companies and claiming they had ant-proof canisters, an automatic lowering flour bin and a dust-proof base top.

These Hoosier Cabinets lasted for years, so with the 1930s and the Great Depression, few were sold, people only needed to refurnish their older one.

Even into the 21st century, many individuals have updated and refurnished their ancestor’s original Hoosier Cabinets and use those cabinets for different purposes.

Now you will want to check and see if someone in the family has one of these all-purpose kitchen free-standing cabinets.

Photo: Hoosier Cabinet of 1905.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Victorian Kitchen

1800s Hygiene

1940s Kitchen Essentials

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