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By Selina Hurley on

The Greatest Inventions Since (manufactured) Bread?

After learning about the manufacturing process of bread during a bread baking course Pippa Murray got to thinking about what other mass produced products used in our day to day lives have evolved in order to save us time…

Traditionally bread making is a lengthy process. Hours of kneading, proving and baking produce just one meagre loaf. It’s no wonder that so many of us choose to buy a loaf from the shops instead of making it ourselves! The invention of the Chorleywood bread process in 1961 transformed bread  into a product that could be manufactured on mass and distributed to stores nationwide.

This got me thinking what other inventions that have had a similar time saving affect on our lives. Below are a just a smattering of these, often overlooked, household products that can be found in the Making Modern World gallery at the Science Museum.

Microwave oven, 1968 ( Science Museum, London )

The microwave oven was invented by accident after the Second World War when a self-taught engineer named Percy Spencer was building radar equipment in a lab for Raytheon. While he had been building magnetrons,  he noticed that a chocolate bar in his pocket started to melt. He realised that microwaves can be directed at food to heat it up rapidly. The conventional microwave oven hit the market in 1967 quickly followed a succession of tantalising microwavable meals.

Sunbeam Ironmaster Model X21 electric dry iron, 1955 ( Science Museum, London )

The humble electric steam iron is not the most exciting of objects (or chores) but arguably one of the most important, popular and widely used domestic electric appliances. The electric iron was invented in 1882 by Henry W. Seeley but it was only until 1938, when the Steam-O-Matic electric steam iron was released did the object become popular, leading the way to more widespread use of the electric steam iron during the 1940s and 1950s.

This model above is one of the earlier Goblin “Teasmade”, Model D.25B, 1966, first model made at Leatherhead Works ( Science Museum, London )

And my personal favourite the Teasmade, a multi faceted alarm clock come tea/coffee maker. Designed in 1902 by Albert E Richardson who decided to combine an alarm clock with a small kettle so that the user awoke to a freshly poured cup of tea. Several years later Teasmade trademarked it and developed the product seen above. A great invention but how many of us have them on our bedside tables?