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Pneumatic Kitchen

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Berlin: 1933

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In the 2 February 1913 issue of The New York Times, science writer Mr Waldemar Kaempffert, editor of Scientific American magazine, made a not entirely serious prediction about the kitchen of the future:

Housekeeping, Mr. Kaempffert divides into cooking and housecleaning.  Very gradually we are beginning to buy our food ready cooked instead of attempting to cook them ourselves.  Potted meats, boiled hams, cold roasted chickens, and a great many viands that only as late as twenty years ago were prepared at home can now be bought at the corner delicatessen or grocery store.  Huge companies, capitalized at millions, cook soup for hundreds of thousands and sell that soup in tins–better soup, moreover, than most Bridgets can make.  We are now living in the tin-can epoch of housekeeping.  The pneumatic-tube epoch is about to dawn.

Mr. Kaempffert has the daring to propose that each city shall have its central kitchen with tubes radiating from it like the pipes from a water reservoir to the thousands of kitchens in the metropolis.  That central kitchen will be comparable in size with the largest hotel in the city.  Each department will be in charge of an expert.


Promptly at 1:30 a carrier containing your luncheon whizzes into your kitchen.  It is simply necessary for you to serve it.  When your luncheon has been eaten and your guests have departed, you have only to pack up your dishes and send them back to the central station by the very carrier that brought the, for the corporation not only cooks your food, but washes your dishes as well.

The pneumatic tube age wasn't that far off.  Within 20 years, apartments in the centre of Berlin  were linked by a pneumatic system, though the "carriers" were thermos jugs.  This must have made soup, stews, and chicken legs popular, though removing sandwiches would have required a lot of picking with a fork and whole lobsters were right out.

Ironically, We have a similar home-delivery system, but it generally involves pizza.

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