July 02, 2013
Among the items displayed in the Kennedys' Beals Street home is the appliance pictured above. For many of the visitors who view the house, this device is one of the least recognizable objects in the kitchen.
It is a toaster, manufactured by the Edison Electric Appliance Company of Chicago, Illinois, and marketed under the Hotpoint brand name. The Edison Electric Appliance Company formed in 1918, just a year after John F. Kennedy's birth, as the result of a merger between the Hotpoint Electric Heating Company and a division of General Electric.
Research indicates that this particular toaster is the Hotpoint "Tick Tock" model, which featured a built-in automatic timer. Bread (the toaster could toast two pieces at a time) was placed in the flopper-style doors that were opened with the decoratively pierced metal handles seen projecting from the toaster's sides. Because the heating element was in the center of the toaster, only one side of a piece of bread at a time was directly exposed to the heat. In order to evenly toast both sides, the user would need to open the door, flip the piece of bread, close the door, and toast the other side.
A 1929 advertisement for the Hotpoint Automatic Tick Tock toaster claimed that the toaster was not just convenient, but that it was also "A beautiful table appointment." At the time, the toaster retailed for $9.75.
Did You Know?
Like many middle-class families in Brookline, the Kennedy’s relied upon the many contributions of live-in domestic help. Mary O’Donaghue and Alice Michelan, two first-generation Americans, cooked, cleaned and cared for the children, enabling the family to live their version of the American dream.