I am a lover of old things.
But they have to work. So this weekend, I set about “fixing” my old hand mixer.
Everything about this mixer is perfect, except the detachable cord was accidentally nicked with a knife, exposing the wiring. Not safe. I looked for a cord on a web site with GE replacement parts, but the mixer is so old they no longer make it.
In fact, my mixer is a lot like the one I remember from my mother’s kitchen. It has blended countless batches of cookie batter for me, whipped up innumerable birthday cakes, mixed Sunday pancakes and whipped cream for Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Most people with a broken mixer would probably just get a new one, but I am attached to mine. Plus, I don’t want nine speeds or a retractable cord or any of that other fancy stuff the new models all seem to have.
And I can’t believe the newer models would be as durable as this old one. I have had a parade of appliance repair people in my life over the last year, and every one of them swears, “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Appliances from refrigerators to cooking ranges, dishwashers, washers and driers are now built to be replaced. One repair man, who came to fix the dishwasher, told me he’s had people beg him to fix their 30-year-old appliances even though they are no longer energy efficient and scruffy-looking to boot. They work, they will continue to work, and that reliability is better than some shiny new contraption that’s going to break down in a year. Hey, fellow environmentalists, isn’t it greener to have one appliance for decades rather than expend the energy on manufacturing a new one every five or 10 years?
I assume the same can be said for egg beaters – though the replacement set I’ve been using, also old, is not so hot. Its beaters sound dangerously unbalanced, clacking along as if they are going to fly apart or jam any minute. And even on high speed, they plod reluctantly through cookie batter and generate such heat I feel sorry for this old man of a mixer – and yearn for my trusty “GE 420A.” I guess all old beaters are not created equal.
But there sure are a lot of them. When I googled mine, I found a whole world of used hand mixers. Who collects this stuff? Does someone shop yard sales and raid grandmothers’ attics for egg beaters, just to sell them online? It’s a mystery.
Turns out my beloved beater, and countless others, are “retro,” “vintage,” “mid-century.” There are some real knock-outs out there, too, in harvest gold, mustard yellow, lime green. I can just imagine Betty Crocker in her perky apron, wielding one of these babies in her 1950s kitchen. My favorite was the “Vintage GE Atomic Mid-Century Pink Portable Space-Saver Hand Mixer USA.” Pink! The seller even photographed it on what looks like a vintage fabric bag for it with the word “MIXER” cross-stitched across it in red.
It didn’t take long to realize I could easily drop down the rabbit hole of ebay and my Saturday morning would be gone. I find my hand mixer’s twin (but in harvest gold) and buy it for $16 just to get the cord. I’m happy!
Then the confirmation email shows other products that “might interest” me: I click on the hand-operated egg beaters with little handles, also vintage, and think about the hand-cranked ice crusher my parents had mounted to the wall when I was small, maybe ebay has one of those! And I keep going back to that atomic pink hand mixer, what a find. And it is in good working condition!
But one mixer is enough. I’ll have to get rid of the old man mixer I was using temporarily. But wait. It’s vintage! Wanna buy it?