On July 27, 1957, many housewives across America may have taken advantage of a warm, summer Saturday afternoon to defrost the fridge. Mass production of refrigerators for household use had begun shortly after the end of World War II. By 1955, roughly 80% of American homes had replaced their iceboxes with large, humming, porcelain-covered, cooling and freezing machines. But in 1957, “frost-free” was still in the future for most owners of this modern appliance. When ice built up around the coolant coils there was only one thing to do.
Step one: unplug the fridge. Step two: remove all the food from both the main compartment and the freezer. Step three: place a large pan under the freezer coils to catch the melting icewater. Step four: keep checking the pan and empty it before it overflows. Step five: when the freezer coils are free of ice, clean and wipe down the inside of both compartments, replace any food items, and plug the fridge back in. All done!
The best timing for defrosting the fridge would be just before a trip to the grocery store, when food supplies were growing low. Packing remaining food in ice could help preserve valuable items. After this periodic chore was over, it was time to go to the grocery store to stock up on more supplies of meat, dairy, and vegetables.
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