Journey Indiana – The Hoosier Cabinet: A Cupboard With Brains

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STORY.>>TODAY ALMOST EVERYBODY KNOWS THESE CABINETS AS HOOSIER CABINETS. ♪♪>>FOR WOMEN IN THE EARLY 20th CENTURY, THEY WERE BY ANY NAME A GAME CHANGER.>>IT IS PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE AND APPROPRIATE TO SAY THAT THE HOOSIER CABINET REVOLUTIONIZED KITCHENS IN AMERICA.>>THE EARLY KITCHEN WAS BASICALLY A TABLE, THE HOUSEWIFE WORKED ON IT, THE FAMILY ATE AT IT, THE FOOD PREPARATION WAS DONE ON THE TABLE. STORAGE MAY HAVE BEEN A SHELF, BOXES ON THE FLOOR. NOT REALLY ORGANIZED.>>IF YOU HAD A HOOSIER CABINET, THE IDEA WAS YOU COULD CONSOLIDATE THE KITCHEN INTO A MUCH SMALLER SPACE AND SAVE STEPS. IT WAS FREQUENTLY REFERRED TO AS A STEP-SAVER, LITERALLY.>>THE MARKETING OF HOOSIER CABINETS ALSO UTILIZED MONIKERS SUCH AS KITCHEN PIANO, CUPBOARD WITH BRAINS, AND SCIENTIFIC PANTRY. IT WAS INGENIOUS AND EFFECTIVE.>>WE KNOW OF 65 OTHER COMPANIES THAT MADE CABINETS THAT I CALL HOOSIER CABINETS. THEY’RE ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY.>>THE LARGEST, BY FAR, WAS NEWCASTLE’S HOOSIER MANUFACTURING COMPANY. THEY’RE REPORTED TO HAVE MADE MORE THAN 2 MILLION CABINETS BY THE 1920S. NEARLY 700 PER DAY AT THEIR PEAK. IN THE 1930s, BUILT-IN CABINETS, MORE OR LESS WHAT YOU’D SEE IN KITCHENS TODAY, STARTED TO BECOME THE NORM.>>EVENTUALLY THAT STYLE OF CABINET TOOK OVER, BUT WE WERE IN BUSINESS WITH THIS TYPE OF CABINET FOR APPROXIMATELY 40 YEARS.>>AND ALTHOUGH THEY WERE NO LONGER BEING MANUFACTURED, THEY DIDN’T DISAPPEAR. IN FACT, TODAY MORE THAN A CENTURY AFTER THEY FIRST HIT THE MARKET HOOSIER CABINETS ARE COLLECTED, RESTORED AND OFTEN PASSED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION.>>THERE ARE LITERALLY MILLIONS OUT THERE IN KITCHENS, IN GARAGES AND BARNS. PROBABLY NO LONGER BEING USED, BUT THEY ARE STILL OUT THERE.>>HERE THEY ARE ON DISPLAY IN GREATER NUMBERS THAN PROBABLY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. IT’S AND I DEAL LOCATION BECAUSE FOR DECADES STARTING IN THE LATE 1800s HOOSIER CABINETS WERE CONSTRUCTED IN THIS VERY BUILDING.>>WE COLLECT JUST ABOUT ANYTHING RELATED TO HOOSIER CABINETS. THE BRAND THAT WE MADE, DUTCH KITCHENETTES, AND IF THEY ARE AFFORDABLE AND NICE WE PICK UP OUR COMPETITION. WE HAVE SEVERAL CABINETS IN THE CORNER OF THE ROOM, WHICH I CALLING THE COMPETITION CORNER. WE HAVE HOOSIER, SELLERS, DEARBORN DESK MANUFACTURING COMPANY, WHICH IS SORT OF AN ODD BRAND. WE GET THEM EVERYWHERE. IF THEY ARE UNIQUE AND EXTREMELY INTERESTING, WE WILL PURSUE THEM. BUT MOST OF THEM CAME LOCALLY WITHIN, I’D SAY, 50 MILE RADIUS.>>AND ON OCCASION THEY JUST GET LUCKY.>>I WAS HERE SHOWING PEOPLE AROUND THE 3450U SEEM APPROXIMATELY 4 YEARS AGO AND A YOUNG COUPLE CAME IN AND WERE TALKING TO ME AND SAID, OH, I HAVE A CABINET. IT’S IN MY STORAGE UNIT. MY EARS PERKED UP. AND APPROXIMATELY THREE YEARS LATER I WAS ABLE TO PURCHASE THAT CABINET AFTER GOING AND LOOKING AT IT AND REALIZING IT WAS A VERY UNIQUE DUTCH KITCHENETTE CABINET MADE IN 1904, WHICH IS ONE OF OUR VERY EARLIEST ONES, IN ORIGINAL CONDITION, AND IT IS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS MUSEUM, AND WE GOT IT BASICALLY BY ACCIDENT FOLLOWING UP ON A LEAD. IF THOSE PEOPLE HAD NOT BEEN HERE AND TOLD US ABOUT IT, WHO KNOWS WHERE IT WOULD HAVE GONE.>>YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY REDUCE THE DEFINITION OF THE HOOSIER CABINET’S EFFECTIVENESS TO WHETHER THEY ACTUALLY SAVED STEPS, BECAUSE IT GOES SO FAR BEYOND THAT. I MEAN, ANYTHING THAT GIVES YOU THAT MUCH PLEASURE — LOOK, IT’S LIKE MARIE CONDO TODAY. DOES IT SPARK JOY? THE HOOSIER CABINET SPARKED A TON OF JOY FOR ITS USERS PARTLY BECAUSE OF THE HYPE. YOU HYPE IT ENOUGH, YOU’RE CLEVER ENOUGH IN YOUR MARKETING, AND PEOPLE WILL LOVE IT.

 

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