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A History of Heating: From Cast Iron to the Modern Stove

There’s nothing like a hot meal on a cold day after work. People have always sought to find ways to better heat their food and the innovation of the stove really changed the game. Before that people were mostly heating their food on top of fires. We thought we’d take a look at the history of the stove and how it has changed over the decades and centuries. 


The very first stoves took the form of open hearths made out of stone and using an open fire. The first cast-iron stove was produced in Massachusetts around 1642. Picture an iron box with wood or coal inside. A man named Benjamin Thomspon designed early cooking devices that controlled heat as early as the 1790s. The main lightbulb here, was the idea of taking the open hearth fire idea and containing it in a box with the ability to control the flame or heat. About one hundred years later a familiar name — Benjamin Franklin—came up with what came to be known as the Pennsylvania fireplace, which took from the idea of the cast iron stove and implemented new ideas of  the heating stove. This innovation used burned wood on a grate and added a heat control aspect with sliding doors. This particular stove became popular and widely used across North America and was able to warm farmhouses, city dwellings, and cabins. 


In the next couple of decades, advancements to this concept were made by adding grates for cooking food came about in 1800. As the 20th century rolled around, cooking food became the primary function of these stoves. Later in the 20th century, these stoves were replaced by steel ranges or ovens that were powered by natural gas or electricity. The main change came as manufacturers looked for other sources of heat beyond wood and coal. New gas ranges did not disperse that much excess heat and were able to stand on their own, which was a big appeal for the modern kitchen. 


A gas cook stove arrived in the early 1900s. These had a burner top at left and a baking oven below. These were still made of cast iron and by the twenties, these were becoming very marketable and popular for the everyday consumer. In the next decade the built-in look became the new normal, as manufacturers hid the gas manifold and made them look a little more tighty and appealing. 


The Stoves of Today


The changes that have occurred since the 20th century are pretty significant, but operate under similar principles. Of course, today people have the option of having a gas or electric stove and people prefer each option for different reasons. The kitchen appliances of today exhibit some pretty exciting new features including much more control over temperature, touchscreens, and stereo sound. Some new smart options have cooking modes like defrost, bake, broil, or roast. 


While you might not be looking for a stove with stereo sound, a new kitchen appliances today can come in various forms. Here at Gorman, we carry the most trusted brands and models and today’s latest kitchen appliances. Give us a call and see what we have available and make cooking that much more fun with a brand new stove! 

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