Curator's Corner Blog

Tag Archives: children

The cutest little kitchen you’ll ever see

When you’re little, it seems like you can’t grow up fast enough. All you want is to be able to walk by yourself to the ice cream store, drive the car, push the lawnmower. You just want to do what mom and dad are doing.

While researching the toaster post, we came across some absolutely darling toys from the 1940s that put at least one grown-up thing — cooking — in the hands of little ones. These tiny toys are sized for tiny hands. Too big for the doll house, they were clearly designed for children to make pretend cakes, pour pretend lemonade, mash pretend potatoes and saute pretend omelets.

These tiny kitchen items are in the collection of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula.

Surveying these kitchen tools gives us a good sense of what the late 1930s / early 1940s kitchen looked like. There would have been a standing mixer, a pop-up toaster, and a hand-held egg beater. Mom might have done the ironing in the kitchen, too. (We’ve noticed fold-down ironing boards in the kitchens of older Missoula homes.) Perhaps in the fridge you had a glass dispenser that contained punch, lemonade or iced tea for those hot afternoons in July and August.

Collection of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. 1997.0003.085

This lil’ mixer, one of our favorite items in the group, ran on battery power. An old Everready is still in the compartment. Collection of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula.

Baking is a great entryway for children into cooking (kids love sweets!). Kid-sized cookie cutters shaped like a gingerbread man and a chicken attest to the fact that 1940s kids would have been making cut-out sugar cookies, too.

Many of these toys seem to be more than just play things — they are smaller, working versions of the real thing. A child could stand on a stool next to his or her parent and help beat eggs, turn silver-dollar pancakes, and mash potatoes, with tools that fit in a child’s hand.

The toys were donated by three sisters who grew up in our region, and the dings and scratches on each miniature appliance or utensil reflects how much they were clearly loved.

Did you ever “play kitchen” when you were growing up? What were your favorite toys?