A Collection Of Vintage Kitchen Gadgets Many People Would Not Know How To Use Nowadays

By Farah J

This article was originally published on myfryingpan

Who remembers watching their parents and grandparents using huge tools for something that takes minimal effort now? Whoever was born in the last century has seen, felt, tasted, heard, and smelled the evolution. And no, not only the changing technology part; look beyond the screens and machines, amigos: we’re talking about the evolution of our homes. Our kitchens weren’t always like this, stocked with blenders, food processors, and multiple sets of knives for different purposes, no. We forget that before we had peelers, there were only knives for potato peeling. Forget about your espresso machine. Remember when almost every kitchen tool had a handle for us to rotate, only to chop, grind, process, whisk, and blend stuff? You might not. Let’s take you older millennials and Gen Z’s back to our “stone-aged” kitchens!

Holiday Special

This is going to make us seem old, but it would not stop us from crying in nostalgia. This used to be our favorite holiday item to use. It’s called a cookie press, and it was the most used item during holidays!

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Before plastic cookie molds took over, this beauty was used to press cookie dough into beautiful, delicate shapes. We remember cookie trays filled with different patterned home-baked cookies. Picking the shape and decorations was our most looked-forward-to and memorable family holiday activity!

Summer snow cones!

Summer in the ’60s without snow cones topped with flavored syrups? Impossible. The Ice Pet snow cone maker was every kid’s favorite item when summer came around. Grandma’s backyard, summer holidays, and shaved ice snow cones make up our favorite childhood memories!

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And it was so fun to use – or simply watch – as the block of ice got shaved into delicious treats. Unfortunately, it is not a very common household item anymore. We may see it in little shops selling shaved ice, but not in our kitchens.

Let’s go, escargot!

Upon first glance, these pans might look like special six-in-one egg poaching pans, but they’re far more interesting than that. Those six intends are perfectly shaped to hold six little snails. You read that right. These pans are made specifically to cook escargot perfectly!

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Before you judge the food and the necessity for such a specific pan, keep in mind that it’s actually a pretty popular dish. Other than France, you can find snails on the menu in over a dozen countries throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Pretty labeled porcelain jars

This is such a grandparents’ home thing. Labeled stuff everywhere. And when these pretty jars came out in the market, we are sure that young mothers were the first ones to grab these. Because we certainly remember seeing these, well-loved and aged, in their kitchen cabinets.

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Everything was available in this kitchen set, from the smallest jars, like salt and pepper, to the largest, like cookie container or sugar jar. You probably see these in vintage and hobby stores in different shapes and styles. They’ve never really gone out of style.

Mashing mills

You Gen Z’s probably grew up around electric food processors. But let us tell you how old we are. These food mills were our food processors back in time. Everything we owned worked manually, with handles, cranks, and a pan.

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Mashed potatoes? You got it. Jellies, jam and any type of puree? We got you! This food mill will mash anything soft. Just put the stuff in there, and rotate the handle. The food would then be strained out of the holed plate at the bottom.

Manual mixer – how tough are you?

This is one of the items that tested our strength, stamina, and endurance. It used to leave our shoulders and arms stiff with muscle aches. No wonder it got replaced with an electric mixer. It was a tough one, for real!

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One hand to the top handle took all our strength to press down the food items. While the second hand on the rotating handle took every bit of breath we had in our body. This was the original hand mixer. Which would you prefer?

Butter genius

When we say this is genius, we mean it from our cores! It is the most frustrating thing to wait for the butter to get to room temperature after taking it out of the refrigerator before spreading. Especially when you are late for school already.

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In the 19th century, someone French invented these incredible pots that kept the butter at a perfect temperature for spreading. ALL. THE. TIME. No need to refrigerate! The lid held it, and water was poured into the bottom to keep it from melting. Bring these back!

(Mr.) Bean slicer

We demand to know who decided that this device was not good enough for our kitchens and replaced it with knives. It takes double the time to slice green beans now as it did with this simple and easy-to-use device.

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Indeed, some kitchen gadgets were replaced by better tools. But what about this green bean slicer? This took so little time; all we had to do was put the whole stalk in there, and sliced green beans were ready for dinner!

Ice trays but aluminum

Ice trays, we believe, are still pretty standard kitchen items. They were a thing in every refrigerator back in the 2000s. But now, as the new technology has taken over, many modern refrigerators and deep freezers come with built-in ice makers.

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Who knew ice trays would become a vintage thing this quick? Especially the aluminum ice trays! Why would someone replace aluminum with plastic and silicone when aluminum makes ice faster? We understand the convenience of having ready-made ice all the time, but these are a solid backup option.

Spice grinder

We have a question: who has seen what spices look like before they are ground? We bet many kids of the younger generations don’t know. As all they’ve ever seen – or used – are the pre-grounded spices that are sold in the grocery store.

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Well, before packaged spices were a thing, we used to grind our spices at home in this cute spice grinder! The spices were put in through the top, the lever was rotated, and the grounded spices came out from that holey side.

Iron trivets for coasters

We may have seen these iron trivets in our grandparents’ houses or vintage stores. What were they used for? Well, our grandparents used them for almost the same purpose as the oven mitts we put under our hot dishes on the table.

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Once, this iron trivet was invented to prevent hot pans, pots, and kettles from ruining the surface under them. The trivet’s small feet stopped the direct contact of the hot pan with the (usually) wooden surface underneath. These can still be found today.

Pot strainer for a multi-tasker

Straining food used to be such a difficult one-person task. And most of the time, it was a fail. No wonder this item got kicked out of the kitchen before anyone else’s food went down the drain or splashed on the floor accidentally.

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Handling hot pans with one hand while holding this pot strainer with the other hand was a test of multi-tasking for the person! You would hold this against the pot and strain the water out. And most of us failed to handle both things at once.

“Loaded” French fries

A vintage tool for home kitchens, yes, but for restaurants, maybe not. This device was very commonly seen in homes for cutting potatoes in the shape of French fries. It was pretty cool to cut a lot of fries in one motion.

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But, for some reason, these are only seen in restaurants now, where they have to produce loads and loads of French fries on a daily basis. And, well, knives do not work quicker or more efficiently than this big beauty.

Death by a thousand cuts

We all have seen the mallet used to tenderize meat. But kitchen masters used this spiky evil-looking thing for this purpose. And it was pretty helpful, too. We know it looks like a scary torturous device, but it did its job incredibly well.

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Its spikes punctured the flesh and the tendons of the meat as it rolled over it, cutting the meat with its spiky blades. But thankfully, the mallet does the job without us fearing tenderizing the precious meat that is our hands.

Vintage espresso maker

We are glad to know that some of our favorite things did NOT get replaced with complicated gadgets. This coffee maker was just upgraded! The espresso and other coffee grinding machines that we have today in our homes and cafés are the updated version of this beautiful thing.

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Unlike the coffee makers sitting in our kitchens right now, this iron cast coffee maker was heavy as heck! It was tough to move around, but it was pretty easy to use: you poured the beans in, rotated the lever, and the freshly ground coffee collected in the bottom drawer.

Sauce serving tray

We can’t tell if tossing this cool and handy thing was a good decision. Because we never replaced it with anything better. We didn’t replace it with anything at all. This pretty thing became passe, and we didn’t even realize it…

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Unlike today, where the barbecue sauces and syrups just lay randomly on the table, this tray had everything arranged and ready. No hustle for passing condiments across the table. A perfect set-up for four different sauces and a plate underneath it for easy cleanup!

Cone sieve for home-made puree

This used to be one of the most essential and most-used objects in the kitchen back in the ’60s. No kitchen was complete without it. Why? Because it had a vital purpose in the household: extract fresh fruit puree and juice at home!

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It was very easy to use, too: you put the device over a big bowl, threw the fruits in the cone, mashed them with a wooden masher, and pure liquid juice/sauce/puree poured down through the holes leaving the seeds and fibers in the sieve.

Butter molds for the holidays

We’ve always loved the idea of having butter in shapes that are as festive as cookies, like stars, tree and mistletoe for Christmas, and turkeys and leaves for Thanksgiving. It is one of the best things in holiday decorations and family gatherings.

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However, the difference is now we go to the grocery store and get our butter. But back then, wooden moulds were used for the shaping of the “holiday butter.” After its invention, this soon became a trade as its popularity increased.


This may seem useless and just a “waste of space” to you. But this bread box had some major perks that don’t exist now. This bread box could hold all types of bread, wheat, Italian, brown, white, whatever you like most.

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And unlike now, the bread stored inside didn’t get moldy and dry as quick. This magical box maintained its humidity at a perfect level that it kept the bread soft, and the air circulation did its job well, too. Unfortunately, we replaced this with plastic.

Measuring scale

The digital world seems so easy, user-friendly, and much more accurate than the manual devices that were used back in history, like this balancing scale. We are much happier with our tiny, battery powered scales. They are lighter and much more convenient.

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Out of all the vintage stuff, this is one we don’t miss. Although, we admit that these old school scales didn’t need new batteries and didn’t get their calibrations all out of wack as easily as the new-fangled digital scales do. Even so, we’ll stay in the now with this one.

Potato mashers

Potato mashers are vintage but not that vintage. We still see them in some houses. Not super often, but we do. Instead of using electric food mixers and blenders, this little handy thing was used to mash potatoes. Some of us are still using forks!

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And it was the easiest thing to handle. Many of us still prefer mashing our potatoes by hand because we want those lovely lumps in there. That probably stems from our moms and grandmothers not messing with electric mixers.

Egg slicing made easy

The 90s kids and older may have used this fun kitchen object. Remember a metal frame with very thin metal strings or blades attached and we sliced our boiled eggs and cheese with it for breakfast before school? Because we do.

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This was such a handy kitchen item – not to mention, satisfying – for slicing our sandwich ingredients without any hassle. Especially when our mamas wouldn’t let us handle knives. This used to be our time to shine as amateur cooks!

The old, vintage cookie baking mold basically became the waffle iron. Except the waffle iron doesn’t have wiggly designs in it. The gadget that our grandparents used to make cute cookies looked like this. One of the most used things in the kitchen.

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Grandma’s cookies were the best, right? Even their homes smelled better than ours ever could. Such purity and bliss! Well, now we can tell that how those huge cookies were baked by our grandmas. We would totally use them now.

Vintage Pyrex – still in use

First things first, Pyrex is a vintage invention. Yes, we know that they are still present in our households, AND are used on an almost daily basis. But using something all the time does not make it any less vintage!

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Hear, hear! We believe we all have one or two (mostly) whole sets of vintage Pyrex, from small dessert bowls to huge baking dishes. We all have that one fancy pyrex set that comes out when some special guest is invited over. Dare to deny this!

Pastry cutters!

We’re betting these nesting pastry cutters bring back some memories of helping Grandma in the kitchen with making pastries. Because we know we are having a rush of nostalgia right now! And, of course, Grandma’s desserts were a highlight of our childhoods.

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Our grandma’s kitchen was filled with multiple cutters and molds for baking. This was such a thing: summer vacations, a kitchen filled with the smells of baking, and us standing next to our grandmothers making the next pastry batch with these (now vintage) cutters!

Party without Punch bowls?

You probably have never seen real punch bowls if you were born in the 21st century except on TV. These were the spotlight of the party back in the day. No party was complete without the whole set of fancy bowls and matching ladles.

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One huge punch bowl was placed on the center table, and its matching set of punch glasses were all around it. You see the parties in the 20th century were petty lit. Looks like our grandparents really knew how to party in style.

Everything is white

The milk glass fashion is back! Do you know how everything that is colored in our kitchens is being replaced by white items? Well, it was a vintage trend back in the 1950s. And it is back in our homes.

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This trend is called milk glass fashion. Everything from vases to cutlery is white. Once darker and multi-colored household items are now replaced with whites. It gives off vintage aesthetic vibes, see? We time traveled back to our grandmother’s kitchens.

Egg separators

Media surely has provided us with multiple tricks and techniques for separating the egg white from the yolk. And we’re all doing it in different ways, right? Like one of us uses a bottle to suck out the yolk, while the other uses eggshells.

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But once, there was only one way: this round thing made of tin. The egg is cracked on it, the yolk is carefully put on the center, while the egg white casually flows down in the container under it. It was pretty genius and easy. Where can we get one?

Cake break

Where are our sugary sweet tooths-havers? We bet they know about this magical thing and are pretty sure that they’ll claim that this comb-like thing makes their life complete! Why? Because it’s an angel cake breaker! Lovers of baked goods, please confirm our statement.

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Angel cake is so soft and delicate that they are most likely to break under the pressure of a stiff knife or some similar tool. So, in the past, this comb-like gadget was used to break the cake without ruining its structure and shape.

Huge herb cutters

We are slightly scared by this cutter; it looks more like a meat slicer than something you use for herbs, right? The size of this alone tells us why these magnificent utensils became a thing of the past, and are not seen in kitchens anymore.

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These cutters came in different styles and shapes, probably like the multiple set of knives in our drawers right now. Some of them had one handle on the top, while others had two handles on each side, one for each hand.

The wiggly Jell-O!

Ever wondered how that jelly on the dining table in the Tom and Jerry episodes had the perfect wiggle-y shape? Well, now we know. Here is the Jell-O mold that we’ve been wondering about. Our favorite snack was made in these pretties!

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As our grandparents remind us, these Jell-O molds came in different sizes for every holiday and occasion. Little ones were probably for the kids (what? we remember eating little jellos at Grandma’s), and the bigger ones were probably for the whole family!

Flour sifters

Wait, this one we recognize! We have seen this canister-like thing in our childhood home. Our mamas used soft white flour in it when making us cookies and cakes on Christmas! We might have to give them a call real quick…

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We’ll tell you how this works since we witnessed our mothers using it: the handle on the side is connected to a rod inside. When it is rotated, the flour inside the cylinder mixes and sifts down through the bottom!

Fondue – more like “fun-due” 

Fondue sets are still a thing now, but we see them in a different style than the vintage ones. But we know the fun remains the same when the fondue sets are taken out for family gatherings and friends’ nights!

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Whether it’s a hot broth in the winter or melted cheese in the autumn, or maybe even a hot sauce for barbeques, fondue has a special place in our hearts. Dipping food with long forks in hot liquid just hits different!

Mashed potatoes with a ricer

Want mashed taters? Try a potato ricer instead of a potato masher. Especially if you want the softest and “non-lumpy” mashed potatoes, a vintage potato ricer is the one for you! Go to your grandma’s, because you are most likely to find this thing there.

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No big lumps and chunks. The softest buttery potatoes are the ones we adore. They make our Thanksgiving holiday meal(s) much more thankful. Thanks to the geniuses of yore for this delicious invention. We’ll be looking for one of these babies online.

Pretty butter dishes

Another vintage butter tool was a special butter dish, used to press beautiful patterns in the butter for table presentation. Yes, butter was all dolled up in front of the guests back then! This sounds so interesting: dressing up our condiments.

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Some butter dishes like these were shaped to fit a stick of butter and others were round for tub butter. We don’t know what changed, and why we stopped using these pretty butter dishes. Because, for us, it’s the delicacy of the patterns!

Tomato slicer – more like, musher

As easy as it is shown on the cover of the vintage tomato slicer, the actual task of slicing tomatoes with this slicer was nowhere near this easy! And not to mention, messy. After all the hard work that goes into it, we were mostly were left with mush.

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No wonder this not-so-handy utensil went vintage. We remember all the mushy tomatoes our mothers had to throw out or repurpose after using this slicer – musher. Because not all tomatoes are the perfect balance between too firm and squishy.

The sacred recipes collection

This is one of the most sentimental and memorable pieces of our parents and grandparents that we still have in our closets. We just can’t throw them out. Their recipes collection, their handwriting, their markers, the scent of old pages…

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It’s like a time travel feeling when we open this sacred box. This was when our grandparents liked to keep recipes they found in the paper and add their personal touches. The recipe box was always consulted when arranging a fancy family dinner over the holidays.

Hot pads: arts n craft talents

You may see handmade stuff lying all over your grandparents’ homes. Whether it is a decorative piece draped over the mantel, or hand-sewn or knitted sweaters and dresses, table cloth or blankets, couch covers or crotched finger gloves, they probably have a few of them.

five red and white vintage hot pads - Antares Furnishings
Imaeg source: antaresfurnishings.com

Many older people had an amazing talent with needle and threads. We don’t know why it isn’t as appreciated anymore. Handmade hot pads to keep the baked goods warm for a longer time were also made to look presentable. Look at these brilliant designs and detailed patterns!

Vintage toaster

Toasters are still used all over the world, yes. But have you ever seen the very beginning model of a toaster used back in middle of the 20th century? Well, now you have. The idea is still the same: toast the bread.

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The modern toaster is way easier and safer to use. This one looks very dangerous for daily use. Even though the looks of it are pretty cool and vintage-y, we still prefer the modern toasters with timers and safety shields.

Nut chopper

This is the modern age of electric kitchen appliances. However, do you know how people who lived before the last century dealt with stuff without electricity? Believe it or not, life did go on, and productively at that. Pumps, choppers, blenders, mixers, you name it, they had it.

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When it came to chopping nuts into fine pieces, this incredible invention was made. It pulverized them easily and quickly. You might think the hand crank would be difficult to use, but it was a lot easier than the hand mixers.

Meat grinder

This is an invention that may not be seen – or available – anywhere in this modern age. Our generation may have a hard time understanding why anyone would need it, since we buy our meat already processed. Say hello to the meat grinder!

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We have never used it either, but we may have a faint idea of how this worked back in the day. Dropping the small chunks of meat from the top hole, you’d rotate the handle until the grounded meat came out of the hole in the front.


Okay, we must admit that we still have great use for the shredder in our lives. Except our modern shredders looks a bit more.. up to date. And easier to use, too. Well, this one was, like, 70% handle and 30% shredder.

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We are glad that shredders got modified for the better. This was pretty easy to use, though. It was just a bigger, heavy-duty version of what we have today. Although, many of us use the handy dandy four-sided shredders more often.

Decorating cakes with a syringe

Our grandparents – and parents – had this very useful thing for dessert decoration. Cake decorators of today have many more options for nozzles, and the syringe has been replaced by a plastic bag, which is both good and bad.

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Ignore its metallic syringe industrial appearance. Focus on its good points: the multiple nozzles, each shaped differently. One thing we like about this is you can use the syringe over and over again. They probably got rusty from time to time, though.

Apple corer

This invention looks pretty cool! Although we have never tested it in real life, we have heard stories about apple cutters and apple corers. No need for knives. And best of all, this little gadget ensured there would be no seeds in our mouths!

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We can’t help but wonder why the apple corer feel out of favor in our modern kitchens (they did, right?). We’ve all seen the gadget that not only cores the apple but slices it as well. But when you want to make baked apples, this is what you want.

Fruit juicer

We were very confused as to how this works…the screws and the knobs were messing with our heads. We needed to ask someone wiser than us for instructions on its use. Thank goodness, we have an easy-to-use juicer at home.

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The front beak-looking thing gives us a clue that the juice is poured down through it in a glass. So, we are guessing that the fruit goes in the top spherical region, and the handle is used to press down the fruit to extract its delicious contents.