Yesterday's Vision of Tomorrow's Kitchen

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Feb. 6 2013 3:21 PM

Kitchen Progress Has Vastly Exceeded Expectations

The technological stagnationist crowd makes a lot of hay out of the fact that early-21st-century reality has fallen short of mid-'60s visions of tomorrow in terms of flying cars and such. But check out Walter Cronkite's chilling 1961 vision of what a kitchen circa 2001 would look like:

The underlying assumption was that everything would be built around people eating gross microwave dinners all the time. Off plastic plates! The idea that people might actually want to eat tastier food or that some people might enjoy hobbyist cooking was entirely off the table.

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The real-world United States of America, meanwhile, has made extraordinary progress in culinary matters. The range of ethnic cuisines available in any midsized American city is amazing by 1961 standards, and that's led to an enormous downward diffusion of cooking techniques and concepts to middle-class people. Cooking gadgets have steadily improved in quality, and though we don't have Cronkite's conveyor belts, the option of extremely quick-and-easy microwaving of prepackaged foods is very much available.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.