Vintage Finds: The Multi-Purpose 1930s Breakfaster
With the introduction of electricity into most homes by the early twentieth century, manufacturers of small appliances endeavored to produce attractive functional gadgets that every homeowner would want for their own kitchens. Designs of small kitchen apparatus were intended to be both beautiful as well as clever space-savers. They needed to be beautiful so they could be left on countertops, rather than being tucked way in cupboards. And they needed to be space-savers since these appliances were marketed primarily to apartment dwellers.
One such appliance was the Breakfaster Model T2 manufactured by the Calkins Appliance Co. of Niles, Michigan. With its art deco styling the Breakfaster was attractive, but also an example of a multi-purpose small appliance. Made between 1936 and 1938, the Breakfaster was a combination cooking appliance that was designed for people with limited kitchen space.
The shell and interior are aluminum with Bakelite handles. A drawer pulls out to insert a piece of bread for toasting. On top there is a hotplate where a pot or pan could be placed. The sides are vented to allow the heat to escape while toasting bread, but unfortunately it also meant that it would be useless as an oven. The Breakfaster proved to be somewhat difficult to use, as there wasn’t an on/off switch, meaning it could only be turned off by unplugging it.
The Breakfaster was only manufactured for two years. It was advertised as a small appliance that could toast your bread while making your oatmeal in a pot or frying an egg in a pan on the heating plate on top. It proved not very efficient, so they weren’t used very much and for this reason examples in decent shape can still be found.
Calkins Breakfaster Model T2
Calkins Appliance Co. Niles, MI
Date of manufacture 1936–38
Measures 11 inches long (including handles) x 8 inches deep, x 5 inches high.
115 Volts, 750 Watts