When Mr. Coffee Was The Must-Have Christmas Gift For Java Snobs

Article by Jeff Koehler published at npr.org

mr coffee 05Back in the 1960s, Americans were preparing coffee by the potful for breakfast, lunch and even dinner with their percolator. While the glass knob-topped pot deliciously gurgled and filled the kitchen with wonderful aromas, percolators often produced a bitter brew from cycling boiling water over and over through the grounds.

“It was really an outmoded way of making coffee,” Vincent Marotta, a real estate developer in Cleveland told NPR’s Linda Wertheimer in 2005.

In 1969, Marotta set out to build an appliance that would make better coffee by controlling the temperature and flow of the water.

“The ideal temperature of the water is 200 degrees,” he explained to Forbes in 1979. “Not 212 degrees, which the percolators give you; 212 degrees gives you overextraction, so the coffee becomes bitter and astringent. Not under 200 degrees, because then there’s a tendency for the coffee to come out like tea — too weak, not enough extraction.”

The secret — the challenge — was to get a mechanism that would provide water at exactly 200 degrees Fahrenheit and then control its flow over the grounds for precisely the right length of time.

Marotta and his business partner Samuel Glazer hired a pair of former Westinghouse engineers to solve the problem.

mr coffee 04On July 26, 1971, Edmund Abel Jr., one of the engineers, filed a patent for a “Pour-in, instant brewing electric coffee maker.” On Sept. 26, 1972, patent number US3693535 A was granted.

Christened Mr. Coffee, the first automatic drip coffee maker for the home launched a month later. Despite its hefty price tag — the equivalent of about $230 today — it was an immediate hit. By 1975, over 1 million Mr. Coffees had been snapped up.

It was both the pour-over of its time, for how it boosted the quality of a cup, as well as the K-Cup, for speed and convenience. It took just 15 seconds for the coffee to start flowing.

Other major brands scrambled to launch their own versions. Mr. Coffee, though, was soon iconic, and became an American byword for drip brewing. In 1977, with ads running during the first commercial break of Roots, Mr. Coffee held a 50 percent share of the American coffee maker market. Revenues in 1979 were $150 million.

Credit for some of that success goes to Mr. Coffee’s longtime pitchman, joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.

mr coffee 03Largely out of the public eye since his 1951 retirement from baseball, and, because of an ulcer, not even much of a coffee drinker, DiMaggio was an inspired choice. Marotta wanted a known personality for an unknown product. Rather than a more symbolically modern figure, such as astronaut Buzz Aldrin or Olympic swimming champion Mark Spitz, Marotta sought out the paradigm of American grace and integrity. He managed to get the slugger’s unlisted number in San Francisco, and after a lunch of broiled salmon, as Marotta recalled to NPR, a handshake sealed a partnership that lasted 15 years.

(DiMaggio lacked the affinity with the camera of his ex-wife, actress Marilyn Monroe, though. It reportedly took him 30 takes to make a commercial.)

mr coffee 06“Mr. Coffee has changed the way America makes coffee,” DiMaggio says in a 1975 ad. “Brews it properly, the best I’ve ever tasted, and brews it faster than any other coffeemaker.”

If those selling features weren’t quite enough reason to splurge on a machine, DiMaggio’s smooth, trustworthy encouragement often closed the deal. In a 1977 Christmas commercial, DiMaggio, wearing a plaid shirt and cardigan, sits in a heavily decorated living room. “When you give Mr. Coffee for Christmas, every delicious cup will be a reminder of your thoughtfulness for years to come,” he says in a fatherly manner. He takes a sip of coffee and then adds, “This Christmas, give Mr. Coffee.”

By the time that commercial ran, DiMaggio was helping move more than 40,000 Mr. Coffee makers a day off department store shelves.

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Some people even DiMaggio couldn’t pry away from their percolator. Among them were my grandparents, who remain loyal holdouts to this day. Now in their 90s, they still brew their ritualistic morning pot in a stovetop percolator. No fancy coffee gadgets for them this Christmas, or even a belated replacement with a drip machine. If I can manage it, though, I will fill their MJB canister with my favorite Ethiopian roast. Already ground, of course.

Kellogg’s History

kellogg_011898 — In a fortunately failed attempt at making granola, our company’s founder, W.K. Kellogg, and his brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, changed breakfast forever when they accidentally flaked wheat berry. W.K. kept experimenting until he flaked corn, and created the delicious recipe for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.

1906 — W.K. Kellogg opened the “Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company” and carefully hired his first 44 employees. Together they created the initial batch ofKellogg’s® Corn Flakes® and brought to life W.K.’s vision for great-tasting, better-for-you breakfast foods.

kellogg_021914 — Kellogg’s® Corn Flakes® was introduced to a new country: Canada. (Later the Kellogg Company will spread the goodness of grain around the world by opening factories in Australia, England, Mexico, Japan, India and more. Today Kellogg brightens breakfast in over 180 countries around the world).

1915 — Kellogg introduced Bran Flakes, the first high-fiber cereal, promptly followed by the introduction of Kellogg’s® All-Bran™ one year later.
1923 — The Kellogg Company made another bold move and become the first in the food industry to hire a dietitian. Mary Barber started the Kellogg’s Home Economics Department and began defining the roles different foods played in proper diets.

kellogg_041930 — As the United States sunk into the Depression, W.K. Kellogg declared, “I’ll invest in people.” He split shifts and hired new employees to work them. He also founded the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, whose mission — to help children realize their potential — complements that of the Kellogg Company to this day.

To further our commitment to people, Kellogg became one of the first companies to proudly display our cereals’ recipes and nutritional info on our boxes — so our consumers knew exactly what they were eating.

kellogg_061942-1945 — Kellogg’s employees proudly produced K-rations for the U.S. armed forces overseas during World War II, and our engineering teams helped manufacture supplies in Kellogg machine shops. We continued to help America get nutrition by bringing new, whole-grain cereal to life when we introduced Kellogg’s® Raisin Bran®.

1969 — The Kellogg Company was honored to provide breakfast for the legendary Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins during their groundbreaking Apollo 11 trip to the moon.

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1997 — We opened the W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research — where food scientists, nutritionists and engineers transform wholesome grains and other ingredients into great-tasting and good-for-your-family foods.

kellogg_082006 — The Kellogg Company celebrated our 100-year commitment to nutrition, health and quality. We also celebrated our future — by creating new Kellogg’s® Special K® Bars and other innovative ways of giving your family the delicious nutrition you need to make the most of every day.

2009-2010 — After discovering that many people in the U.S. don’t get enough fiber, Kellogg increased the fiber in many of our most popular cereals — including Kellogg’s® Froot Loops®. Now, in the U.S., Kellogg Company offers more ready-to-eat cereals that provide at least one good source of fiber (3 grams) and one-half serving of whole grains (8 grams) than any other U.S. food company.

kellogg_11Today — We’re proudly upholding the values W.K. Kellogg instilled more than 100 years ago — but now we’re doing it in 180 countries across the world. We still provide you and your family with better breakfasts that lead to better days, and we flake corn the same way W.K. Kellogg did back in 1898. It just tastes better that way.

text from kellogghistory.com

Corn-Crisped Chicken /Cornflakessprø Kylling

A recipe from an ad for Kellogg’s Corn Flake Crumbs
published sometimes in the sixties

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How about a chicken-fry without all that bothersome frying? You can do it with Kellogg’s Corn Flake Crumbs. This golden Corn Crisped Chicken is baked. Doesn’t call for shortening. Needs no turning or watching. No pan to wash later, either. And it’s so easy to make that you can relax and be your own guest.

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Cheese’n Bean Grill / Varmt Ostesmørbrød med Tomatbønner

A snack recipe from an ad for Kraft published in 1967beanes and cheese on toast_kraft_post

The recipe says to grill the sandwiches till the cheese has melted, but the cheese on the pictures looks only slightly out of shape to me. Melted cheddar tastes great, lukewarm cheddar on the other hand… – Ted

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7 up Festival Snacks / Festlige 7 up Snacks

Five snacks recipes published by 7 up in 1966

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7 up was producing both recipe adds and booklets all through the fifties and sixties. Sometimes featuring what to scarf down when drinking 7 up and sometimes the beverage took part in the recipe it self.

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Wonderful Wind-Up / En Herlig Snack

A simple recipe from an ad for Kraft American Cheese in Slices published in 19671967 Food Ad, Kraft American Cheese Slices_post

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Norwegian Hash / Pytt I Panne

A recipe from “Lørdagskos” (Saturday Snacks) published by Dreyer in 1967

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Originally this dish was made from left over meat and potatoes, but in my childhood home it was so popular that we didn’t always wait for any leftovers to be available. We often had this as a late Saturday lunch back in the sixties. I make it still from time to time, particularly at my week end cottage outside Oslo, it’s fast, easy to make and can be varied infinitely  – Ted

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See this and lots of other delicious recipes here:
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Nyre I Vinsaus – Kidney In Wine Sauce

A recipe from “Lørdagskos” (Saturday Snacks) published by  Dreyer in 1967

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Spiced Cherry Bells

A recipe from “Best Of The Bake-off Collection No 42” published by Pillsbury

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1960’s Birds Eye Sodaburst Instant Ice Cream Soda

In context:
Soda fountains are not as popular today as they were in the 1950s or ’60s, but who doesn’t love a good old ice cream float? Creamy and sweet ice cream dunked into a fizzy and bubbly soda satisfies any sugary craving. And remember,June 30, is is still National Ice Cream Soda Day in USA, so they are definitely not forgotten.

And you can find 5 classic recipes for ice cream sodas HERE