July 15, 2004

IS YOUR REFRIGERATOR RUNNING?

No, but in England they're barging:

Hand in hand with the arrival in Britain of supersize containers of food and drink has come ... the Big American Fridge. Last year, John Lewis alone sold 2m of them.

As these gargantuan cold-storage systems barge their way into kitchens across the country it seems a good moment to ask: have they come as a result of our expanded eating habits? Or do they play a more active part in affecting the amount we eat, encouraging us to crave and consume more?

Or are they just places to keep food cold? The Guardian aims to find out.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 15, 2004 04:58 AM
Comments

I love my GE refrigerator. It keeps all my genetically-modified food cold and uses more electricity than developing countries could ever dream of. It's the SUV of fridges. If I could buy the model/models Michael Moore uses I would. I even have a second Euro-sized fridge in my computer room to cool only beverages. God it's great to be an American.

Posted by: BC at July 15, 2004 at 05:14 AM

Michael Moore probably has a whole Subzero just for ice cream. Or maybe those open-top display freezers like they have at grocery stores.

Posted by: Matt in Denver at July 15, 2004 at 05:28 AM

"Big American Fridge('s) ... encouraging us to crave and consume more"

Well, that explains why p[eople gain weight. It's that dreaded American kitchen appliance imperialism again! I'll bet Cheney owns stock in Amana, or something.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at July 15, 2004 at 05:29 AM

I am Michael Moore's fridge, and I would like to state for the record that Mr. Moore's characterization of our relationship is completely false.

Posted by: ras at July 15, 2004 at 05:31 AM

I, being the self-centered arrogant American that I am, could never understand how anyone could function with the tiny boxes many have used for refrigerators. I had one when I was at college. Doesn't hold much if you have a family.

The Guardian article makes it sound as if all US homes have this HUGE appliance that takes up half the kitchen and we only have the HUGE size because we want to store all our (unnecessarily) LARGE food containers in vast quantities. I felt stuffed just reading the article.

If someone has the time to shop for food every day a HUGE refrigerator isn't needed. However, if you have two adults, some kids, and an elderly parent to feed you realize the HUGE refrigerator is a time, and money, saver. The HUGE refrigerator allows for enough storage so it's only necessary to shop once a week. You can prepare lots of meals in advance. You can also take advantage of sales and freeze stuff.

I can't see what is so strange about wanting to save time and money and having a refrigerator large enough to do so. I hate wasting time and money when I can avoid it. We have one of the side by side models the Guardian seemed to think was very big. To me, it just seems average. (We don't have the largest model.)

Posted by: Chris Josephson at July 15, 2004 at 05:45 AM

My 'American' fridge was made in China.......

Fucking fat chinks, I am sick of them.

Posted by: Dinga dinga ding ding ding ding ding at July 15, 2004 at 05:47 AM

Maybe these gargantuan cold-storage systems save energy since they allow consumers to reduce the number of shopping trips in their gas guzzling SUVs.

Posted by: perfectsense at July 15, 2004 at 05:48 AM

This thread is making me hungry.

Posted by: Jonny at July 15, 2004 at 06:04 AM

We have a side-by-side in the kitchen, also a freezer out in the garage for food we can by cheaply in bulk (breads, meat, frozen foods)
We are planning to get a second fridge for the garage so we can keep left-overs longer.

Thats right THREE refrigerators!
How does my big american boot heel taste Guardian!

Posted by: monkeyboy at July 15, 2004 at 06:19 AM

Thats right THREE refrigerators!
How does my big american boot heel taste Guardian!

What, No beer fridge? Where's your sense of priority?

Mmmmm.....icy cold beer

A concept the poms would never understand...

Posted by: RainDog at July 15, 2004 at 06:25 AM

This is our last territorial demand in your kitchen. Arbeit Macht Fridge!

Posted by: Adolf Icemann at July 15, 2004 at 06:41 AM

Yesyesyes, here we Yanks going barging about the globe waving our Massively Huge Applicances (tm), frightening the wimminfolk in lesser nations, with their warm beer, spoiled food, and clotheslines strung between tenements for drying the apparel they just finished cleaning on rocks in the stream.

Should we mention our Huge Ass (tm) TV screens, usually more than one per household, or will that send the Grauniad catatonic ?

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at July 15, 2004 at 06:47 AM

We've got a large fridge in the kitchen (with the ice maker/water "marriage saver" feature), a full sized fridge in the basement for soda, beer and stuff not used regularly, a mini fridge on the back porch and a keggorator aka a beer fridge. All your refrigerator belong to us.

Posted by: JohnO at July 15, 2004 at 07:04 AM

Jaysus! These monsters are a requirement for all of us with nowhere else to keep their ex-wives. Right next to the bottles of Vodka is the best spot for those interested.

Posted by: The Happy Dyslectic at July 15, 2004 at 07:40 AM

Wait a minute, refrigerators barge their way into kitchens in Britain?!?!? That's amazing! My refrigerator can't even talk, let alone walk...

Posted by: Emily at July 15, 2004 at 07:50 AM

OUR fridge has a whale-skin lined interior, with baby seal eyes for the interior lights, and is perpetually stocked with cold brew for the eventual return of the Duke, Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes...

Shit. This has already been done, ain't it?

Posted by: geezer at July 15, 2004 at 08:01 AM

My refigerator is running right now...
Let's see, one upstairs for food, one downstairs for icepacks and cold'uns, one in the little garage in case the car gets thirsty, I guess. One in the guesthouse so I NEVER have to see my mother in law walking through my house in her underwear again. I still haven't slept...

Posted by: Doc at July 15, 2004 at 08:01 AM

My refigerator is running right now...
Let's see, one upstairs for food, one downstairs for icepacks and cold'uns, one in the little garage in case the car gets thirsty, I guess. One in the guesthouse so I NEVER have to see my mother in law walking through my house in her underwear again. I still haven't slept...

Posted by: Doc at July 15, 2004 at 08:02 AM


Let's see, one upstairs for food, one downstairs for icepacks and cold'uns, one in the little garage in case the car gets thirsty, I guess. One in the guesthouse so I NEVER have to see my mother in law walking through my house in her underwear again. I still haven't slept...

Posted by: Doc at July 15, 2004 at 08:03 AM

Hey, I only pushed that post button once. So sorry.

Posted by: Doc at July 15, 2004 at 08:05 AM

Great, now I have the same image in MY head -- must drink more beer.

Posted by: geezer at July 15, 2004 at 08:22 AM

...gargantuan cold-storage systems...encouraging us to crave and consume more

When your fridge starts encouraging you to do anything, it's time to seek professional help. You may also be in trouble if the toaster has been laughing at you.

Posted by: Sean M. at July 15, 2004 at 09:29 AM

Lessee, one moderately sized fridge in the kitchen (older house, not really room for a monster), BUT

I keep a huge freezer running in the garage to store all the bear, elk, and deer meat. Which I shot personally. With a gun. On ranches. And hauled home in a pickup. With four wheel drive.

Suck on that, Grauniad.

Posted by: R C Dean at July 15, 2004 at 10:04 AM

I believe that Micheal The Moor gets his cold treats from those ice cream makers you see in resturants, the sort that dispense from a nozzle.

These are specially modified so that he can lie on his back with a hose in his mouth, and feed himself a wide variety of ice cream using a remote control.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at July 15, 2004 at 10:26 AM

We happily added another freezer when we calculated that it wouldn't take very many more illegals to trod our treadmill out back for the 'lectricity...

Seriously, volk, does fridge size matter? And would you really want to stand too close to someone who thought it did?

Posted by: geezer at July 15, 2004 at 10:39 AM

Gawd! I love this site. Tim's been holding his humor classes again! Even the Muricans are funny. BaHaHAhahahahahaha.

Posted by: Gerry at July 15, 2004 at 10:52 AM

We aims to please, Gerry.

"These are specially modified so that he can lie on his back with a hose in his mouth, and feed himself a wide variety of ice cream using a remote control."

I want one of those, one that dispenses coffee.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 15, 2004 at 11:17 AM

Gawd, next thing you know, ever-larger American-style bathrooms will be encouraging people to bathe more often. I weep for Europe.

Posted by: Sean M. at July 15, 2004 at 11:44 AM

When I open my fridge my dogs come running. Capitalist running dogs.

Posted by: ilibcc at July 15, 2004 at 12:35 PM

Michael Moore has his own Mr. Softee machine? I'd love one of those.

We got big iceboxes, big stoves, TVs everywhere, and chicken in every pot and streets paved with gold. I think it's all an outgrowth of our good dental hygiene. Countries whose people have good teeth get nice things.

Posted by: Donnah at July 15, 2004 at 01:09 PM

You may also be in trouble if the toaster has been laughing at you.

Especially, if it's a TALKIE TOASTER (trademark patent pending)

cheshirecat
("...would you like a waffle?")

Posted by: cheshirecat at July 15, 2004 at 01:09 PM

"Or do they play a more active part in affecting the amount we eat, encouraging us to crave and consume more?"

Actually, last year, my BigAmericanFridge encouraged me to learn to play the piano, so I did, and I'm glad I did....but this year it has been encouraging me kill and eat small children.....I'm starting to think one of us is quite insane.

Posted by: rinardman at July 15, 2004 at 01:23 PM

Of course what we really need is a walk-in fridge - like the liquor store ones - where you could hang out on a hot day.

Posted by: ilibcc at July 15, 2004 at 01:46 PM

has anyone else in Australia seen those tellie ads for internet fridges? i could never work out why you'd wanna surf the net standing up in the kitchen.

Posted by: roscoe.p.coltrane at July 15, 2004 at 02:19 PM

Looks like small Euro fridge can cause grapes to go sour. Probably goes well with warm Parmalat.

Has anyone ever experianced this?:

Another American expert, Leon Rappoport, author of How We Eat, says: "The really large 'trophy fridge' is a status symbol. It stands out like a Mercedes or BMW as a conspicuous proclamation of domestic success and prosperity. In some households, it is a conversation piece for people to stand around and admire."

A 'trophy fridge'?
'That was a lovely meal.'
'Thank you for saying. Shall we move to the refrigerator?'
'That sounds great!'

Posted by: David [.net] at July 15, 2004 at 02:19 PM

But if you want to hang out and talk about my All-Clad, that's different.

Posted by: David [.net] at July 15, 2004 at 02:20 PM

ilibcc - "Capitalist Running Dogs" - LOL

Do it more ili ...

Posted by: Robert Blair at July 15, 2004 at 02:43 PM

Given the market involved, the 'fridge wouldn't be needed to keep beer cold.

Posted by: Habib at July 15, 2004 at 02:56 PM

We here in the South got you Yankees beat all to hell...

...that's right: we've got one big enough to hold Texan Cowboy Worship Services in!!

Beat that, you Kedwards lovin' varmints!

Posted by: geezer at July 15, 2004 at 03:03 PM

Why would you need a fridge in Britain? They only have to leave the food outside and it would freeze permanently; and everyone drinks warm beer anyway. I suppose having any sort of fridge is oneupmanship: like showing you showing you don't keep the coal in the bath; or that you have an indoor toilet.

Posted by: freddyboy at July 15, 2004 at 03:37 PM

Doctor, I have this problem, I don't have a big fridge and it's affecting my social life. Am I suffering from Fridge Envy?

Posted by: freddyboy at July 15, 2004 at 03:44 PM

Freddyboy, perhaps you had a bad experience with a refrigerator sometime in your life, and thus are shy of entering into a similar relationship.

The medical term for this situation is "Freezer Burn".

Posted by: The Real JeffS at July 15, 2004 at 03:56 PM

If I were the French, I'd be worried about the invasion of the BigAmericanBarofSoap. Or maybe the multi-head pulsing shower. Or maybe just Listerine.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at July 15, 2004 at 03:57 PM

In May, the excellent Daily Ablution drew our attention to the Guardian's ecological audit of a hapless staffer's kitchen. According to the hired eco-gauleiters, "A truly eco-house might have no fridge, just a larder and a water-containing pottery vessel as a cooler."

Posted by: liz at July 15, 2004 at 04:18 PM

I'll buy whatever size fridge I fuckin' (excuse the French) well like. But seriously folks point your browser to http://pages.infinit.net/garrick/jokes/refrigerator.html

Posted by: johng at July 15, 2004 at 08:52 PM

Doctor, I have this problem, I don't have a big fridge and it's affecting my social life. Am I suffering from Fridge Envy?

Be thankful you do not have a big fridge. Some have a refridgerator mother-of-all and suffer from haute-ism as a result.

Posted by: Andjam at July 16, 2004 at 12:57 AM

Stupid imperialist Americans. Forcing the world to live more luxurious lives. When will this tyranny end?!

Posted by: Robin Goodfellow at July 16, 2004 at 01:13 AM

Thanks to the Gaurdian for the informative report. I wasn't even aware that major household appliance enjoyed nationality status. Hail to my bretheren - the Fridge, the Dishwasher, and the Stove. I look forard to the day when the currently downtrodden Mixers and Toasters are granted theit natural right to citizenship.

Posted by: Hucklebuck at July 16, 2004 at 01:35 AM

"Of course what we really need is a walk-in fridge - like the liquor store ones - where you could hang out on a hot day."

Hey! I have one of those! Out at the ranch. Where we slaughter cattle. And pigs. And lambies. And shoot deer. With a gun. Sometimes with a semiauto gun. And then haul them home. In a pickup. With four wheel drive. Just like my soul brother RC Dean.

Posted by: Ken Summers, Killer of Herbivores and the Occasional Varmint at July 16, 2004 at 01:51 AM

We have a local theater group here in town. One of their prized possessions, located in the basement of their theater, is a specially modified 'fridge. It has been rebuilt to store kegs of beer on the inside, with external taps, so that cold beer may be dispensed at will during parties. No need for cans or bottles -- the kegs are replaced as necessary. This is a common modification seen in fraternity houses and bachelor pads.

Now, that is the height of civilization!

Posted by: The Real JeffS at July 16, 2004 at 02:46 AM

Ken - you might laugh, but back when I was living through a particularly scorching summer on the great plains (and working a summer job as a caterer - yes, long sleeves, polyester skirt, and every heat-rash-inducing clothing accessory possible) the walk-in cooler was a popular place to spend a few minutes.

As for Leon Rappoport, I don't know what kind of circles he moves in, but I can't remember ever being particularly impressed by anyone's home refrigerator size. Methinks he may be projecting a few issues of his own onto the rest of us... :)

Posted by: Sonetka at July 16, 2004 at 03:37 AM

Refrigerator imperialism! We Americans know no shame.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 16, 2004 at 03:47 AM

Ken, just to clear things up:

Ken Summers, Killer of Herbivores and the Occasional Varmint
Does the appellation mean that you "kill Herbivores and the Occasional Varmint", or that you "kill Herbivores, and ARE an Occasional Varmint"? (One of those "eats, shoots, and leaves" questions.)

Inquiring minds, and all that... ;o)

[BTW, I have 3 fridges at home and one at the office. Guess I'll be first against the wall come the revolution!]

Posted by: Old Grouch at July 16, 2004 at 04:03 AM

Yes, Sonetka: I worked in a supermarket bakery during the summer holidays when I was at school. The walk-in freezer was a great place. It was kept at -18C (0F) so you couldn't stay long, but the heat in the bakery was infernal.

What constitutes a 'big' fridge? Mine is 500 litres and it holds a lot of stuff but I never thought of it as 'big'.

Posted by: David Gillies at July 16, 2004 at 04:03 AM

I've seen the little bar fridges in British kitchens on movies and TV, but I've never been able to bring myself to accept that most people actually lived like that. A normal sized fridge as a status symbol and conversation piece!? Makes me wonder if they have dishwashers and walk-in pantries. Or air-conditioners?

It's amazing how far one article can go to make me think of all of Europe as one big hell-hole.

Posted by: Sean E at July 16, 2004 at 08:07 AM

It occurs to me to ask this question.

If some people in England feel that a normal sized 'fridge (that would suit us cold beer guzzling imperialistic Yanks) is some sort of status symbol, how do these same people view the flushing toilet?

Posted by: The Real JeffS at July 16, 2004 at 10:40 AM

Sean: air conditioners in England? These are people who open the windows when the sun comes out, no matter how cold it actually is outside.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2004 at 12:11 PM

The Guardian is just unhappy because they can't digest that meagerness isn't a virtue, and that it's inefficient. The Idea behind having a real fridge is that ones saves a great deal of money by cooking at home and saving leftovers. That sounds more like an anti-consumerist/ anit-capitalist/ neo-anti-guardianism/ heathly eating type of thing anyway!

Posted by: Joe at July 16, 2004 at 11:20 PM

Andrea: I live in the Canadian Prairies, so I can relate to "warmer please". But still, no a/c?

I had never realized Britain was so foreign. Sigh. I'm such a provincial.

Posted by: Sean E at July 17, 2004 at 01:52 AM

It's all just a plot by the vast fridge magnet manufacturer conspiracy, really. I read a research paper some years ago about how the Euro fridge wasn't the home-planning-memo-center that it is for us colonials, 'cause the fridges were so small. No place to hang up the kids' soccer schedules, the delivery menus, and so forth. Now that the big fridges are bargin' in, their owners will succumb to the dark side!

Posted by: Sheryl at July 20, 2004 at 06:00 AM