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Professional and household cooks around the world can thank Cincinnati’s own Willis Johnson for developing an improved egg beater that helped make their lives easier.
Until Johnson patented the device on February 5, 1884, mixing ingredients was a long and laborious process done by hand. Johnson’s invention was soon used for dough, batter, and other ingredients as it is today.
The mechanical egg beater (U.S. pat# 292,821) was made up of a handle attached to a series of spring-like whisk wires.
In fact, what Willis Johnson had really invented was the early mixing machine and not just an egg beater. His device was not intended for eggs specifically. It was a double-acting machine with two chambers. Ingredients such as batter could be beaten in one section and eggs could be beaten in another section, or one section could be cleaned while the other section could continue beating.
Johnson’s original patent boosted kitchen productivity because the two whisks were placed such that you could call the eggbeater a virtual mixing machine.
Johnson’s invention continues to help people save time in the kitchen, Tara McMullin of Explore What Works, says, “as a woman who bakes and also owns a KitchenAid Pro stand mixer, the thought of doing everything my mixer does with my own two hands is a bit horrifying. I can combine my flour, milk, yeast, butter, and eggs, turn on my mixer, and walk away as it kneads my brioche for me. Instead of spending ten minutes bent over a floured slab of granite, kneading the dough by hand, I can use that time to sweep up or empty the dishwasher. I can be more productive!”
By the time Johnson died in 1923, his design remained a model for the commercial and household electrical beaters to this day. As Thanksgiving approaches, don’t forget to save a plate for the man who blended it all together, Willis Johnson.