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The Big Chill
October 6, 2013 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Why American refrigerators are so huge, and what it says about our culture.
posted by reenum (265 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
We like to store small children?
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:11 PM on October 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


I would love to have a few small grocers within a couple of blocks I could walk to instead of making a schlep to a big box every week.
posted by yoga at 4:12 PM on October 6, 2013 [55 favorites]


Our fridge is about half the size of a normal small fridge, because our apartment in Manhattan has a hotel kitchen, and there's just no room. I actually like it, though. It forces us to go shopping at least 5 times a week for fresh meats, fruits and vegetables.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:13 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


the average American family goes grocery shopping once a week

Bingo. At one time, I lived within walking distance of an open air "European" market. I shopped nearly every day, just buying fresh what I needed. I barely needed a fridge at all. The way most of suburbia is structured, going shopping isn't so simple, thus it's done infrequently and storage is required.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:15 PM on October 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


Will this be another thread where we all humble-brag about how we don't really care much for refrigeration and would be happy with a dorm fridge did circumstances permit?

I like having a decent sized refrigerator. I do not like working a long day and stopping at the store every day, or cooking from dried ingredients every time I haven't just been to the store.

MFK Fisher has this absolutely harrowing account of living in Provence - Provence! - in the summer with no refrigeration and the huge fucking slog it was to bring food for herself and her daughters back from the market every couple of days and get it all cooked before it rotted. It was an absolute race against decay, and even she admits that it was pretty miserable.

Also, how does all this "oooh, refrigeration is so American and spoiled and luxurious" business square with the omnipresent "save money by cooking a giant pot of beans and eating beans all week" advice?

It's all very well to talk about how virtuous it is to buy fresh all the time and not have a big old sickeningly American appliance crouched in the corner of the kitchen, but cooking healthy, vegetable-heavy meals from scratch and shopping for the ingredients every day pretty much demands at least one person in the family who does paid work for no more than half time. (Sure, there are exceptions, but I personally just cannot imagine trying to work 40 hours, go to school, exercise, clean and live out of a mini-fridge with multiple grocery trips every week - and I live in a dense metropolitan area and do not have a child.)
posted by Frowner at 4:19 PM on October 6, 2013 [244 favorites]


(Sure, there are exceptions, but I personally just cannot imagine trying to work 40 hours, go to school, exercise, clean and live out of a mini-fridge with multiple grocery trips every week - and I live in a dense metropolitan area and do not have a child.)

This is exactly how I do it. No child, we both work full time. I run 40-60 miles a week and my husband teaches on top of a full time corporate job.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:23 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


“Who ever heard of an American without an icebox?,” wrote the British travel writer Winifred James in 1914. “It is his country’s emblem. It asserts his nationality as conclusively as the Stars and Stripes afloat from his roof-tree, besides being much more useful in keeping his butter cool.”

No kidding. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, prior to widespread availability of refrigeration, the U.S. was at the center of the global ice trade. It's hard to believe now, but not so long ago in many places the signature U.S. product was ice.
posted by RichardP at 4:23 PM on October 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


Just one fridge? Many of my friends have a second fridge in the garage just for beer.
posted by COD at 4:23 PM on October 6, 2013 [42 favorites]


Are Americans slaves to convenience?

Yes. That is the answer.
posted by mdn at 4:24 PM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


The fridge in our current apartment is smaller than full-sized (maybe one or two steps down), and I'm not a fan. We always have OJ, whole milk & skim milk on hand, so one night of heavy leftovers or leftover soda/lemonade from a party and I feel like I'm playing Tetris to get the door shut.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:24 PM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


I can't help but read a little OH YOU GREEDY OBESE AMERICANS WITH YOUR MASSIVE GREEDY OBESE FRIDGES into this, honestly. It's irritating because as per usual it ignores the unfortunate status quo of lower income people working in big cities and living in exurbs or other locations inconvenient to daily shopping. So yeah, a family of 4 with 2 working parents and 2 school-age kids is going to need a massive fucking fridge, because who has the time or the energy to go shopping every single day? People already get enough fucking lectures over how they're not making every sauce with a roux from scratch and not getting the most ecologically sound piece of fucking tuna and not spending 2.5 hours every day making the most nutritionally sound meal possible. Every one of these articles is another "you are bad and your food is bad and the way you cook it is bad and if you don't cook it that's bad too and your kids are bad and you are fat and your kids are fat lol america" nail in the fucking coffin.

I fucking never get huffy on behalf of complaints made about the american lifestyle so this shit is clearly getting out of hand.
posted by elizardbits at 4:28 PM on October 6, 2013 [212 favorites]


Hmm. I dunno. Not only are standard refrigerators here in Korea pretty huge -- 870L is a pretty much standard size, which is twice the stated average in the US, according to the article, if I'm converting correctly -- most households (including my own) also have a separate, similarly-sized kimchi fridge.

What that mostly says about 'Korean culture' (other than its growing affluence) is that Koreans love their many and varied types of kimchi.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:28 PM on October 6, 2013 [29 favorites]


My closest market is about 6 miles away. But, it's more expensive than the one we go to, which is closer to 10 miles away. There are a total of 0 sidewalks between my home and either of them, and no bike paths.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:28 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


A smart refrigerator could be built into an outside wall and use cold outdoor temperatures to do most of its work, when available. During summer months, the considerable heat produced by the compressor could be vented outside, rather than inside. They would basically be a modern version of a spring house.
posted by Brian B. at 4:32 PM on October 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


In some environments that I've lived in in the past, the refrigerator was also a reliably bug-proof container. So there's that.
posted by gimonca at 4:34 PM on October 6, 2013 [50 favorites]


Will this be another thread where we all humble-brag about how we don't really care much for refrigeration and would be happy with a dorm fridge did circumstances permit?

^This.^

We just got back from a great two-week vacation in London and while our lovely flat had one of those small fridges I've found in any flat I've rented in the UK, I say I like the tiny fridge with starry-eyed ideas of doing something similar at home, but frankly, I don't live in the environment to support the idea.
posted by Kitteh at 4:34 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't want to speak for any other Americans, but personally I need some square footage for my magnet collection.
posted by .kobayashi. at 4:37 PM on October 6, 2013 [120 favorites]


Dang it, you'll pry my fridge out of my kitchen over my cold, but unrefridgerated, dead body.

Even in Turkey with the Pazar--Sunday market--and the stores and street sellers, we still had a full fridge.

The best use of the fridge is to shop for sales items. While we don't buy a lot of processed stuff, if I can get 5 chickens for the price of 3-4, then it certainly makes sense to shop on sale. We buy and freeze meat and bread, store uantities of cheese and yoghurt, and take advantage of fruit and veg sales in the winter. Summer is for eating straight out of the garden. We could probably do with a slightly smaller fridge but a larger freezer. Rather than put fruit and veg in the fridge, I wish I had a cold cellar, but that's not likely to happen.

With our location, the price we would pay in gasoline traveling to purchase groceries would be astronomical if we had to do it several times a week. As is, we travel 45 minutes by interstate bi-monthly to shop at a coop rather than use Walmart, 15 minutes away.

I must admit, along with hot showers, the most civilized item in the house is the ice maker. Damn but I love that thing, winter and summer. Felt like I really came up in the world when we bought a fridge that had an ice maker in the door.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:38 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once a week? If we only go once in a day, it's unusual. We do go through a gallon of milk a day, and fruit doesn't last long. Can't imagine how big a fridge we would need to only go once a week...
posted by Windopaene at 4:39 PM on October 6, 2013


I knew a family that had a dorm sized fridge for two parents and three sons. One of which was a 16 year old at the time.

The secrets to their success were daily shopping, being artists, cooking for hours a day, and having a chest freezer, and not seeming to eat much that was processed, except popsicles.
posted by bilabial at 4:42 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"American-style fridge-freezer" is a thing in England. It typically refers to the double-door cabinets with 500l+ hold. Most normal fridge-freezers come in about half that, and undercounter singles are pretty common too. But then, so is living within walking distance of a supermarket. Different cultures call for different things.
posted by Thing at 4:47 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We do go through a gallon of milk a day

A family of four drinking 32 oz of milk a day...? That's... a lot of milk.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 4:47 PM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Perhaps, too, as an anarchist I can say this: capitalism is popular because, in part, it makes life better and easier. It also makes life worse and crueler and in the main I do not care for it, but the anti-technology strain in this kind of article is really irritating - as if it were sheer selfish laziness that prompted people to want to be able to refrigerate food to begin with, and as if there's something morally wrong with wanting a varied diet. What is next? Perhaps the idea that the washing machine is just a stupid, fat-making innovation which enables us all to have too many clothes, supports fast-fashion, etc. We'd all get a LOT more exercise if we hand-washed everything, put it through a mangle, hung it in the yard and starched and ironed it! And no doubt there'd be an exemplary couple somewhere who worked full time, volunteered tutoring the homeless, cooked all meals from scratch, did daily Taebo and hand washed all their clothes who could tell us how much more fulfilling it was, how much softer the clothes felt, how authentic and close to their roots it made them feel and how they still had ample time to work their way through the entire Criterion collection and get second PhDs.

The issue is that we need clean energy. The rest of this can be sorted out in myriad ways that suit individual circumstances.

(I add that the main beneficiaries of appliances have been women, and I get kind of sketched out every time there's a new wave of "look you spoiled lazy Americans ruining your lives" because all I can think of is the generations of housewives and - more than that - the generations of servants. Read a book about how servants lived in the Victorian era! In average middle class houses, the cook-maid slept in the kitchen on the floor! In a dank Victorian kitchen! On a pallete that she kept rolled up during the day! That was brutal, gross, back-breaking labor, and I'll take Oscar Wilde's utopian socialism over "authentic" labor any day of the week.)
posted by Frowner at 4:48 PM on October 6, 2013 [153 favorites]


People already get enough fucking lectures over how they're not making every sauce with a roux from scratch and not getting the most ecologically sound piece of fucking tuna and not spending 2.5 hours every day making the most nutritionally sound meal possible. Every one of these articles is another "you are bad and your food is bad and the way you cook it is bad and if you don't cook it that's bad too and your kids are bad and you are fat and your kids are fat lol america"

If I could trade my favoriting privileges for the ability give this comment the maximum number of Metafilter favorites possible over a lifetime, I would do that. Even though this article is pretty mild and skews much more to the "but honestly life without fridges would suck balls, so let's just try to be grateful and mindful" side than most.

I would actually love to have a lil' undercounter baby fridge, because my kitchen is in fact too small to fit the behemoth that my landlord put there. And because I live, literally, 45 feet from a supermarket. (I also never cook, to speak of. Cereal, eggs, and the occasional pie are about the limit) But at no other time in my adult life, and under no other conditions, would I have been willing to say sure, who needs room for more than 3 things in their fridge?
posted by like_a_friend at 4:48 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Refrigerators did get bigger as houses grew to McMansion proportions throughout the 'burbs in the 2000s. I noted this when recently getting a new fridge, and being told the one I ordered (for a small apt.) was smaller than most now. Mine, the salesman said, was of '90s size.
posted by raysmj at 4:49 PM on October 6, 2013


One way I hope fridges become more efficient is more drawers. Every freezer I've had in China was all drawers, which holds a lot of the cold in.

I went and looked in my fridge just now to try to figure out the size (not a whole lot smaller than the standard American fridge), and I noticed that it is primarily full of beverages and fruit, both of which Americans like cold and Chinese people do not (typically, of course). Beverages take up a lot of space.

“A great deal of what’s in your fridge absolutely does NOT need to be there.”
I wish the article had gone more into those things that do NOT need to be in the fridge. I know Americans are weird for refrigerating eggs, but what else? (Please don't refrigerate tomatoes! They'll lose whatever flavor they may have!)
posted by MsDaniB at 4:51 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


What that mostly says about 'Korean culture' (other than its growing affluence) is that Koreans love their many and varied types of kimchi.

Kimchi requires a fridge? I was under the impression kimchi is quite happy to be buried in the garden.

Quite frankly I doubt that America is uniquely "bad" in the fridge size statistics. We've got a small fridge, because it's what we've always had and we've never got around to buying anything bigger, but based on the typical sizes of fridges I see in shops in Australia, I think we must be way, way low on that bell curve compared to other people.
posted by Jimbob at 4:52 PM on October 6, 2013


I know Americans are weird for refrigerating eggs, but what else?

Well... you just mentioned fruit. The only fruit I'd put in a fridge would probably be a watermelon, once it's been sliced. Apples, bananas, oranges...people are really putting these things in the fridge?
posted by Jimbob at 4:54 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish the article had gone more into those things that do NOT need to be in the fridge.

A lot of condiments.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 4:55 PM on October 6, 2013


If a huge fridge is used to reduce the number of cars trips one makes to the supermarket then it can be seen as an energy saver.
posted by islander at 4:57 PM on October 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


  1. Need for balanced diet/good nutrition
  2. Need for lower (-> approaching zero) non-human energy consumption
  3. Need to minimize limited fertile land use, wear and tear
These three needs have been occupying my energy problem mind for a while...

Also, the second to last paragraph is good in this article.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 4:58 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We could easily make a smaller fridge work, especially if we also had a small chest freezer.

Daily cooking does not have to be a 4 course event. A lot of times we spend a couple of hours on Sunday pre-chopping carrots, broccoli, cauliflower or other steamable veggies. That way we don't have to think too hard about a menu when we're zapped at the end of the day. Throw it in the steamer, hit the cook button, and go change clothes. Come back to al dente ready to eat in 10 minutes.

I'd like to have a pressure cooker, also. That's efficient cooking, right there.
posted by yoga at 4:59 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh Jesus. Now I have to be ashamed about my fridge size?


Oh wait, no I don't.
posted by stltony at 4:59 PM on October 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


I've got a mammoth fucking Samsung the size of a house but I still go shopping almost every day.

Supermarket is only a five minute walk from where I live though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:00 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I worked in the produce department at a supermarket for many years, so I usually refrigerate the produce items that were stored in the cooler at the store. Apples and oranges: yes, bananas: no.

Condiments don't need to go in the fridge? I usually abide strictly by any "refrigerate after opening" directive. (I just moved, so I don't have any condiments to refer to in my fridge.)
posted by MsDaniB at 5:03 PM on October 6, 2013


Are Americans slaves to convenience?

That seems better than being a slave to inconvenience. Less slavey even.
posted by biffa at 5:03 PM on October 6, 2013 [36 favorites]


Family of four with a small fridge (and no freezer) here. Going shopping every few days is kind of fun (I like the produce section). It helps that we live within walking distance of a supermarket and Chinatown (fresh produce).

In Japan we have an even smaller fridge, but live a couple of blocks from a couple of different supermarkets. Love the fresh fish section.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:04 PM on October 6, 2013


Kimchi requires a fridge? I was under the impression kimchi is quite happy to be buried in the garden.

And so it was, in the old days. But these days, more than 80% (or more than 90%, it might be -- I can't remember the exact numbers offhand) of Koreans live in massive beehive apartment complexes. Very few people indeed have a garden to bury anything in.

Kimchi fridges are designed specifically to minimize temperature variation, built with separate compartments and enclosures, to mimic as closely as possible the gentle temperature gradients that traditional pots-in-the-ground allowed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:04 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


My wife refrigerates bread. I gave up on trying to change this behavior about 15 years ago. Even now that we have the counter space for a breadbox.

Most of the remainder of the fridge space is leftovers. We buy stuff, we cook, we eat, we save leftovers until a few days later when no one feels like cooking. It seems a lot better than throwing it all away. And we never know how hungry our boy will be, so we can't really anticipate how much we do or don't need to cook. Other times we cook more on purpose because some leftovers (lasagna, chili, etc.) are the kind of thing we really want to eat for days.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:06 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had a mini fridge in a previous apartment. Size-wise it was fine, but otherwise it was pretty shitty. Everything went bad quickly and the laughable "freezer" compartment had to be defrosted periodically. Now I enjoy having a full size, largely empty refrigerator.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:08 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


bilabial: "The secrets to their success were daily shopping, being artists, cooking for hours a day, and having a chest freezer, and not seeming to eat much that was processed, except popsicles."

To be fair, most Americans now have work schedules that pretty much prohibit daily shopping and cooking for hours a day. Big fridges may be all that's keeping lots of people from fast food every night.
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:09 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


It seems like the author is making the assumption that an increase in volume of a fridge equals a linear (or at least 'big') increase in energy consumption. I wasn't sure about this so I did some rough estimates. My naive guess was that the insulation of a fridge would be the bigger factor, and that the losses / energy use of a fridge governed by size would be small relative to an increase in volume because they would be related to the surface area of the fridge, which increases at a slower rate than the volume.

For example, let's take a 16 ft^3 and an 8 ft^3 fridge (internal capacity, not external size) Assuming the width and depth are equal both to each other and between the two fridges, then we have a surface area described by the equation 4 * width * height [surface area of the sides] + 2 * width squared [bottom and top].

Let's call the width and depth 2 ft in our example. So the 16 ft^3 fridge has internal dimensions of 2 x 2 x 4, and the 8 ft^3 fridge is 2 x 2 x 2.

The (interior) surface areas are, for the larger fridge, 4 x 2 x 4 + 2^2 = 36 ft^2 and, for the smaller, 4 x 2 x 2 + 2 x 2 = 20 ft^2.

In other words, a twice as large fridge has 1.8x the surface area. Assuming cold is lost equally from top, sides, and bottom, and that your housemate leaving the door open while staring at the contents, slackjawed, is not a significant factor, then it costs 1.8x the energy to cool a fridge that is double the volume.
posted by zippy at 5:09 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


RE: A gallon of milk a day. We were a family of 6, but are now down to five. But yes, we do drink a lot of milk.
posted by Windopaene at 5:12 PM on October 6, 2013


It says we're worried about nuclear explosions and want to be able to survive them unhurt.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:16 PM on October 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


I just need enough space for this heaping plate of beans.
posted by Token Meme at 5:17 PM on October 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


Michael Bluejay says an 18cf fridge from 1986 used 1400kwh a year, while a new fridge of the same size uses 350kwh - a 75% reduction. I don't see why we should feel guilty about that.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:18 PM on October 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


MsDaniB: " I know Americans are weird for refrigerating eggs"

We refrigerate eggs because the ones you buy in the supermarket have their protective waxy coating removed as part of the industrial production process. That's what keeps eggs everywhere else in the world from going bad. If you're in America, you refrigerate your eggs if you want them to last longer. This is also why it's so much easier to get salmonella from raw eggs in the US than elsewhere.

There's produce you should definitely not refrigerate, like tomatoes, because it fucks up their texture. Makes them mealy. What the supermarket does or does not refrigerate is generally a good guide.
posted by danny the boy at 5:18 PM on October 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


We have large refrigerators because the Greatest Generation gave us food security, among other great things.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:22 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kimchi Refrigerator. Are all Korean refrigerators pretty like that, or is it just the kimchi refrigerators?
posted by Lyn Never at 5:24 PM on October 6, 2013


Yep. Bargain basement fridges are relatively plain, and add varying levels of bling (to a level which can get kind of aesthetically unsettling) as you get up into the more luxury items in the range.

The first fridge she's showing is a standard fridge, but she moves on to display a kimchi fridge later in the video.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:28 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do not like working a long day and stopping at the store every day, or cooking from dried ingredients every time I haven't just been to the store.


I'm relieved to come to this thread and see people saying things like this. We don't have a big fridge (the wall doesn't fit one) but we're totally buying a chest freezer and it's for reasons like this -- we're exhausted. We're up at 5am every day, herding our small family through its paces. I wouldn't have anything different, but holy shit, yeah, no, I'm not running out to the store every damn day and I'm aghast that someone might not understand the relationship between socio-economic cultural realities and how they play out in something as mundane as appliance sales. No kidding families want to store four gallons of milk.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:29 PM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm an American living in New Zealand. Yes, the fridges are significantly smaller. But the cupboard space for dry, canned, or just more stable foods is much larger than in the States.

So...here is another instance of just making up stories based on glaring omissions.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:32 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I must admit, along with hot showers, the most civilized item in the house is the ice maker

Hear, hear! I'm as anti-American as your next soixante-huitard offspring, but on a recent stay in the US I rented a place with one of those refrigerators described in the article, and I discovered that on top of it, in a smaller freezer, it had an intelligent mechanism that automatically produced ice cubes. My mind was figuratively blown and I had to radically reconsider my sentiments towards a whole range of issues.
posted by klue at 5:35 PM on October 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


I am not American, and I have a fairly typical for Australia 200 litre fridge/freezer combo. The freezer part fits like two loaves of bread and a container of icecream and then it is full.

I would LOVE to have a large American freezer. I do not enjoy shopping more than once a week, and fresh produce totally lasts a full week or more in the fridge (or you know, you can freeze it). It saves a lot of money to buy in bulk instead of single recipe amounts, plus it saves time, plus your house is then well stocked to be flexible and spontaneous about what's for dinner. Recently a Costco opened here and I was quite excited to explore it, but it turned out it sold almost nothing that would actually fit in my fridge, so not worth joining. Sigh.

But there is a built-in space for a fridge in my house, and it wouldn't fit anything much bigger than what I have. The same has been true of almost all houses I have ever lived in. Sometimes we talk about maybe getting a second (dorm room style) fridge or a chest freezer as back-up, but we have nowhere sensible to put it. Sigh.

When I'm on holiday, I quite enjoy stopping at markets or grocers every day in the late afternoon to see what I'm inspired to cook for that evening, but it is not compatible with a normal working life. And with the small European fridges I had when living in Europe (and that all my European friends and colleagues had) you still don't browse the markets every single day. You shop maybe two or three times a week, each time in a panic because you don't have as much of whatever as you thought you had and that recipe you planned for tonight isn't going to work after all.
posted by lollusc at 5:35 PM on October 6, 2013


Let me let you in on a little secret— anytime anyone from the U.K. sees one of those big 'American' fridges, you know what they think?

"GOD I WISH I HAD ONE".
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:39 PM on October 6, 2013 [25 favorites]


Kimchi Refrigerator. Are all Korean refrigerators pretty like that, or is it just the kimchi refrigerators?

For what it's worth, the two fridges she shows in that video -- standard and kimchi -- are basically the models I own (except ours are a step or two down in the decorative scale, and are just plain stainless steel fronted, with none of the embedded crystal or floral etching), and are set up like that, side by side, in the kitchen. That's pretty much the standard setup these days in middle-class households here.

Electricity is hugely expensive in Korea, at least in comparison to Canada (and I assume the States), and so there's been a lot of work done to make fridges (and everything else) more energy efficient. I'd be willing to wager that the latest Samsung or LG fridges are world-beating in that regard.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:42 PM on October 6, 2013


Wow, there may be something to say about this topic but that article doesn't seem to bother. A big wordy mess with very little content.
posted by odinsdream at 5:46 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


we're exhausted.

Seriously. You know when I cooked every day from fresh things bought daily? When I was seasonally employed and living off of summer savings as an illegal resident in europe. When I literally had nothing else to do most days other than poke around in farmer's markets and sit in the carniceria and chat with the butcher about his brother's lambs for hours at a time.

Right now I live within walking distance from my office and I rarely put in over 50h/wk and I have no kids and I never will and it is still too much fucking hassle to go shopping/bother to cook every day. (Or ever. FRESH DIRECT 4 LYF.) If I had to come home after 12 hours at a non-privileged non-salaried position and go to the store and decide what I wanted to spend an hour preparing for my similarly tired family I would prolly just lay facedown at the bottom of the garden and weep while eating dirt.
posted by elizardbits at 5:49 PM on October 6, 2013 [67 favorites]


I got a separate fridge which is apparently for Coke Zero and pickles cuz we seem to be having a shortage of Arizona iced tea and Babybel cheeses in my area.

It occurs to me that the modern supply chain, that allows delivery of Arizona Iced tea and Babybel cheese, may have broken down.

Good thing I have a fridge, because I can horde Babybel cheese next time it is available instead of having to rely on the whims of the global market whether my Duane Reade gets Babybel cheese this week or not.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:49 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okay, I just used Google to work out what our 200 L fridge is in square feet, so I could compare it to the ones in the article. It reckons it's just over 7 square feet. So the average American ones are more than twice as big?

WANT.

Also, I think other people in this thread are probably right on about it being as much about what different countries want to have chilled as anything. I don't know many Australians who keep any beverages in their fridge on a regular basis. Sure, you might chill a thing of juice, white wine or beer when people are coming over, but not on a daily basis. And if you buy multiple soft drinks or juice bottles at the shops, you would only store the open one in the fridge. (Or maybe that's just my friends. I think it's a bit of a class thing, too. My social circle doesn't drink soft drinks or beer, and rarely drinks juice. We are more water-out-of-the-tap, tea or red wine people.)

And I don't know anyone who chills fruit. We generally chill eggs, but most people know you don't have to (here), and they are the first thing to be moved out of the fridge when we are running out of room. Most people I know buy lettuces with the roots still attached, so you can store them on the counter balanced in a jar of water. Most people don't (I think) store jam or condiments in the fridge.

We only buy long-life milk so we keep it in the pantry until it's open. I would prefer to buy the chilled stuff, but there is no room in the fridge.

Right now my fridge contains leftover pad thai I made last night, a huge bowl of fruit salad which we are eating for desserts lately, one open litre of milk, carrots, broccoli, beans, snowpeas, various herbs, a cut up pumpkin, a block of cheddar, a block of feta, an open can of cat food, and some phyllo pastry I am defrosting to make spanakopita from. It is PACKED. Seriously, I have to rearrange the whole damn fridge every time I want to get anything in or out.
posted by lollusc at 5:51 PM on October 6, 2013


Our weekly trip to the supermarket is one of the only times during the week that I fire up the car. It would make little sense to have a smaller fridge and then have to drive three or four more times a week to get food. I live more or less downtown in a medium-sized city but the closest supermarket with edible food is about five miles away which in traffic is at least a 1/2 hour drive. I don't really want to spend and hour plus three or for evenings a week driving to the super market.
posted by octothorpe at 5:54 PM on October 6, 2013


It reckons it's just over 7 square feet.

7 cubic feet, but yeah, I think that's right. Which would make our two fridges, with a combined capacity of about 60 cubic feet, like 9 times as much. Yikes!

That said, you can turn off sections of the kimchi fridge, so we just use the bottom half of it as room-temperature storage, so like 45 cubic feet total.

Also, I keep my Friday beer in the kimchi fridge. Quite a lot of Friday beer.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:57 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was growing up in Rotterdam, Netherlands in the late 1950s, we had no refrigerator. The milkman, vegetable man and baker came vending down the street every two days with fresh stuff. It kept cool enough on the basement steps. We walked to the butcher every day or two for meat. We had hard cheese that was just kept in a plastic bag in the closet. Nothing much spoiled, nobody got poisoned (which is why I always get a chuckle out of the "can I eat this" conniptions hereabouts).

Not long ago I visited a cousin in Holland who had a very small under-the-counter fridge where he kept milk and a few other things, but for the rest, all his storage was as I remembered from 50 years earlier, on the basement steps. Like my family in Rotterdam, he was close to a network of farms and markets so he could get fresh food every day or two.

The problem most of us in the US have is that by the time we get fresh food from the supermarket it is already so many days removed from harvest that it's only a day or two removed from spoilage.

So, connecting as much as we can with local sources is the solution: the food is fresher, tastes better, has retained higher nutritive values, doesn't need refrigeration if we eat it rather than inventory it, allows smaller fridges, and keeps us healthier.
posted by beagle at 5:57 PM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


The eggs ought probably be kept in the fridge, but that's because we process them a bit differently.

But yes. I love both my fridges. One brews lager! The chest freezer has most of a pig in it too!
posted by furnace.heart at 5:58 PM on October 6, 2013


Okay one more comment:

Here's the other big difference between (at least) Europe and America that affects fridge sizes. In many places in Europe, a lot of the food shops are not so easily accessible by car (i.e. in pedestrian-only areas or places without much parking, or in a big city where no one really drives because public transport is quicker and easier). If you are passing a grocery shop in the pedestrian-only area on your walk home from work every day (as was pretty much always the case for me everywhere I lived in Europe) or if you HAVE to walk or cycle through the food market because it is on your route home, then it is actually easier to shop then and there than to fire up the car for a separate trip to the bigger supermarket on the outskirts of town.

And of course, if you are doing all your shopping on foot, bicycle or public transport, you can only transport a couple of bags of groceries at a time, so you don't need a big fridge, and you do have to shop more often. It does work out more expensively, though. When I was POOR in Europe, I spent a lot of time scheming about how to get to the large cheaper bulk grocery shops and how to carry bulk foods without a car.
posted by lollusc at 6:01 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, if it makes Americans feel any better, when I lived in Sweden everyone I knew had huge fridges which mainly seemed to be necessity because everyone seemed to need to have several types of milk, a few types of fermented milk, and at least two yogurts and types of cream.

Many also had big chest freezers for berries or other forest-gathered products and sometimes hunted meat.
posted by melissam at 6:02 PM on October 6, 2013


It kept cool enough on the basement steps

Significant portions of the United States are further south and warmer than Rotterdam or Holland - even when I lived in a house with an unfinished basement, it wasn't cool enough to keep milk from spoiling in the summer.
posted by muddgirl at 6:05 PM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Big fridges are awesome. Mine can tweet.
posted by planetesimal at 6:06 PM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I did the small fridge/grocery a block away thing for about five years. I'm done with that. It's a lot of time out of an already busy weekday to walk there, shop, walk back, and only then start cooking. I ended up using a lot of canned goods and never storing anything but finished meals, because there simply wasn't the room to do it.
posted by kafziel at 6:06 PM on October 6, 2013


I store nearly everything that isn't dried or canned in the fridge. Why wouldn't I? IT IS A MAGICAL DEVICE THAT KEEPS FOOD FROM ROTTING.

The bulk of human cuisine throughout history comes from desperate attempts to achieve just that. We got some food! Quick, smoke it, pickle it, cure it, salt it, cook it, dry it, can it, bottle, it, jug it, jelly it, bury it, and dip it in lye before it gets all green and fuzzy! Or wait, what's that? I can put it in my MAGIC BOX instead?

Yeah, I'll take a biggun! Sign me up!
posted by kyrademon at 6:07 PM on October 6, 2013 [62 favorites]


One of the things I use my "Big American-Sized" freezer for is to store the bones of the 2-3 chickens I roast per month. Every few months I pull out the accumulated bones, make a big-ass pot of of stock, freeze it, then chop it into 2-Cup sized chunks and keep those bagged in the freezer. That way I always have minimally-processed, minimally-salted, and most of all CHEAP home-made chicken stock to use in all sorts of tasty creative and healthy ways (it makes great rice!!). If I couldn't fit more than one or two carcasses in the freezer at a time, I probably wouldn't bother.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:08 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


@plantesimal: your #milk expires in two days.

@plantesimal: This is your #Whirlpool reminding you to keep your #bananas and #apricots separate from your #cucumbers and #watermelons.
posted by Redfield at 6:09 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


the only thing that appeals to me about being a homeowner would be getting to pick my own appliances, namely a regular sized fridge with those neat freezer drawers and the double doors. and a chest freezer.

i don't care if it makes me Amurrican. i like to cook a big thing and then freeze half or more for later use.

apartment-size fridges SUCK.
posted by sio42 at 6:16 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am one of those cranky cynical people who rarely, if ever, is excited about anything in American culture, but every time I have ice water -- at home, in a restaurant, or wherever -- I suddenly turn all GOD BLESS AMERICA for a few seconds. (It's definitely the thing I miss most when I travel abroad.)
posted by heurtebise at 6:18 PM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


OMG, plantesimal. If I could somehow find out the contents of my fridge when I'm not home...
My brain refuses to store that information, no matter how big or small my fridge is.

I dunno if I'd be comfortable with a tweeting fridge, but maybe a couple of webcams hooked up to an iPod touch. Or some sort of prefab home security system that I could access on a phone (and that I would, uh, install in my fridge like a weirdo).
posted by MsDaniB at 6:21 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everything is big in the US--our cars, our wives, our deficit
posted by Postroad at 6:24 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Among the marvels of the refrigerator - it is one of the few enclosures in my kitchen that is easy for me to open, but which my cats cannot.
posted by wotsac at 6:25 PM on October 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


On the energy front, blaming size is just lazy. Efficient fridges can be made any size, but good engineering and not making stupid design choices are requirements. First up: you don't let all the goddamn cold air fall out when you open the door. Second: you use good insulation. There are other little details if you want to get all picky about those joules, but those big issues need to be done right or the rest doesn't matter.

Surprisingly, it's nearly impossible to actually buy a fridge that follows these basic rules. There's Sunfrost or converting a chest freezer yourself. There are no other commercial options available to consumers, and that's pretty crazy.
posted by odinsdream at 6:27 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


oneswellfoop: "We like to store small children?" I actually went and bought a commercial sized refrigerator. I could actually store two adults in it. Without cutting them up, but they would be a little scrunched.

Whenever I have had people over and they see the beast, they marvel at it. When I explain I can keep a full turkey, a cake, and the rest of the Thanksgiving meal in it without resorting to tetris like stacking, they hug me.

I have three teenagers, two of whom play on their high school football team and lacrosse team and the other who was also active in her sports. They consume about 7,000 calories a day and go through a gallon of milk a day. I can now keep 3 or 4 gallons in the refrig and only have to go to the grocery two or three times a week. I keep cases of Gatorade and bottled water in the bottom for them at sports events. The amount of meat, chicken, vegetables and other food stuffs we go through a week is mind boggling. The volume of liquids is also huge.

Yeah large refrigerators!
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:37 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


My mother has a biggish fridge in the kitchen and a huge freezer in the garage. There are two people (she and her husband) in the household. Pretty much every time I'm over there (2-4 times a week) I grab stuff from her kitchen or garage because HEY FREE FOODS ARE GOOD. Go Team 'Merica.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:39 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Our next fridge will be smaller than our current one, because we no longer need to keep enough food around to feed three teenagers and all their friends, which we did when we bought this one.

Same with the house, too. No more need for all those bedrooms on multiple levels. Give me 800sf all on one level and that would be sufficient.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:40 PM on October 6, 2013


I love my big American refrigerator.

Mine's not even as big as most--it looks like it is from the front, but it's pretty shallow.

I do plan my meals in advance every week and I appreciate planning for leftovers which either get stored in the fridge for lunches or frozen for later in the month, and I like being able to buy in bulk for the month or two ahead. I couldn't do this in a smaller fridge, I'd spend more money buying fresh meat every week.

I definitely shop multiple times a week for dairy and fresh vegetables that supplement what I can grow in my urban back yard in our short growing season, but I also like to preserve some of what I grow in the freezer, so more space is great.

I like to bake, but I do bread dough "Five Minutes A Day" style which requires a little fridge space, and I freeze off pizza dough which takes freezer space.

My husband does homebrew beer and it's nice to have it cold when he wants it, so that's some fridge space. If we weren't American maybe we wouldn't care how cold the beer is.

My next goal in life is to be able to buy meat in bulk from farmers. That's going to require more freezer space than I have. Bless Europeans and everyone else for so many things that make life more elegant but in the end I'm an American, and I need my refrigeration, so fuck it.
posted by padraigin at 6:41 PM on October 6, 2013


Fine, everyone keep your behemoth fridges if you want them. I just want a proper selection of European-sized fridges and fridges that aren't so goddamned DEEP to choose from here in the US. Is that so wrong? But mostly there are humongous fridges, and the smaller ones tend to still be too deep. Why do they have to stick out so far beyond the cupboards?

In my house, the fridge cubby is both too short for most modern fridges, and if you put a deep fridge there, you can't get at the cupboards on the other side. My eventual solution? This. 82 years old and still chillin'. It is about 60" tall and only 21" deep. If I could get a good modern fridge of that size, I'd be pretty happy.

I do have to keep a separate freezer, but it actually uses less energy to run this and a chest freezer than to run a modern giant fridge.

This fridge is actually a good size for 1-2 people living in a city where shopping is nearby. I try to buy veggies on the day I'll use them.

Here's the thing -- when I had a larger fridge, it was full of stuff, all right. Old, moldy food in the back. This one is small enough that the science experiments don't get to grow in it. It gets cleaned out much more often since I need the space. For me, this is a benefit.
posted by litlnemo at 6:50 PM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


(And, yes, I am clearly not normal.)
posted by litlnemo at 6:52 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sizes of fridges I have used: huge, mini, European, 3/4 normal American size, none (six weeks: tough,) and normal American size.

Do you know what is awesome? Having a freezer big enough to store everything including multiple ice trays! Have fridge space for multiple pots and milk and the fifteen kinds of mustard my life apparently demands and leftovers I can take to work and heads of lettuce!

I don't have a car, we don't have central air, the apartment will undoubtedly be at some ungodly temperature of icy hell all winter, and I line-dry almost all of my clothing. I'm sorry but I'm not apologizing for the fridge.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:53 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


When my mom was a baby, they kept her bottle of milk cool by sitting it in the sink and leaving the cold water running over it (water bills were based on the number of faucets a house had). Fridges are wonderful things.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:58 PM on October 6, 2013


Unlike Europeans, Americans love their children enough to need a big fridge to hang all their artwork. (Either that or European kids are just lousy at drawing with crayons.)
posted by straight at 7:00 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry but this is BS. I've lived in rural parts of Europe where we only shopped once a week or less and had 3-5 people in the house. And a counter height fridge. With a tiny interior freezer. We just kept produce out on the counter or in a hanging basket or out in the shed, where it was colder. At one house we did have an enormous freezer and we used the hell out of it but most places didn't even have that. I will say that we did not snack much. Everyone planned ahead, bought what they needed and ate according to a plan most of the time.

Not everywhere outside the US is a stone's throw from an awesome outdoor market.
posted by fshgrl at 7:00 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


litlnemo, I wonder how long it would take for the energy savings from a modern fridge to pay for new cabinets.
posted by ryanrs at 7:01 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just don't have the energy to prepare my meals every day. I usually try to prepare a week's worth of food on the weekend, and when I do that I need my big fridge--even though I live alone! A smaller fridge => more canned soup and popcorn for dinner.

All of this slight scorn for American laziness ... it would really be better place as slight scorn at the American puritan work ethic and corporate obeisance. People are tired when they get home. Those of us who have jobs work long hours and have few breaks. Oh sure, you can work twenty hours in a day, go to the gymn and bench press 2,000 pounds, and then go home where you will whip up a perfect chicken cordon bleu with freeze-dried goji berry sherbet for dessert, and that's great, but if you think that means everyone else can--or should--then you're part of the problem.

I would love to feel as though I could cook a nice meal every evening without it cutting into the precious little time that I have to relax and do the things I'd like. But that's just not my life.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:07 PM on October 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Why click bait articles are ruining the American Dream and what it says about the magazine that published Mark Twain
posted by gorbweaver at 7:07 PM on October 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


ryanrs, a modern fridge uses more energy than my 1931 Monitor Top. Yeah, those 60s and 70s fridges are energy hogs. The early ones, not so much.

Why would I want new cupboards just to make room for a humongous fridge?
posted by litlnemo at 7:07 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We just kept produce out on the counter or in a hanging basket or out in the shed, where it was colder.

How long would it last?

Because if I did that, it would pretty much mean none of the more fragile vegetables for a few days at the end of each week; they would have rotted. I also have to refrigerate my bread because it will go moldy by the end of the week otherwise.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:10 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mini fridges cost about the same to run as much larger refrigerators, according to Consumer Reports.
posted by Brian B. at 7:11 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The two biggest font sizes on the information sticker for refrigerators on sale in Japanese department stores are the width and the energy usage. The increase in efficiency of modern refrigerators is pretty astounding. And in Japan, the width of the fridge is pretty much crucial to deciding which fridge to get (our kitchen shelving dictates a fridge no more than 67 cm wide).

Our fridge, narrow as it may be, is a thing of wonder. The door to the top compartment, when it is open, effectively seals off the opening to the kitchen. However, the door to the fridge opens from either side! You can open the door from the right or the left. If you're in the kitchen, open from the left. If you're just grabbing something, open from the right. It's a goddamn miracle of design. I love my ambidoorxtrous refrigerator, and I hope I never have to get used to a boring, open one way fridge again.

Even the flaws in our fridge are pretty wonderful. The veggie crisper is too cold, colder than most of the rest of the fridge. Veggies were getting mildly frozen. So, now the veggies go in the bottom drawer, and beer goes in the veggie crisper, where it stays wonderfully cold. I think I'm going to give my fridge a hug when I get home.

And probably give my spare freezer a pat on the head for doing a good job.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:17 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


How long would it last?

All week I guess, although it wasn't 111 degrees like it can be in the US. We definitely threw very little or nothing away ever. I think one big difference is if its been refrigerated at any point in its life, then you need to keep it refrigerated or it'll start to rot. But if it hasn't you're good to go. Greens last a few days, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli etc easily last 4-5 days in a dry coolish place with airflow, those tiered wire hanging baskets are perfect but you do have to eat that stuff first. Potatoes and root vegetables lived in the shed/ garage and lasted basically forever, those were end of the week staples. We did refrigerate carrots for some reason. Never refrigerated fruit in my life. And we had bread bins, bread goes stale if you refrigerate it- a bread bin is far superior imho!
posted by fshgrl at 7:18 PM on October 6, 2013


Let me let you in on a little secret— anytime anyone from the U.K. sees one of those big 'American' fridges, you know what they think?

"GOD I WISH I HAD ONE".


Oh sure, that's true. Though I don't know how many ever go through with it. The cost just isn't worth it if you don't need the space. It's really an extravagance for most.
posted by Thing at 7:23 PM on October 6, 2013


the fifteen kinds of mustard my life apparently demands

YES WE ARE AS ONE IN THE LAND OF MUSTARD ENTHUSIASM, one of my two crisper drawers is only mustard.


the door to the fridge opens from either side!

I wish to hear more about this magnificent work of sorcery.
posted by elizardbits at 7:25 PM on October 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


think one big difference is if its been refrigerated at any point in its life, then you need to keep it refrigerated or it'll start to rot.

So the thing is, even if I buy local fruits and veggies from a farmer's market, I'm not actually at the farm, and I do not personally know which farmers use refrigerated trucks. I don't have a shed or a garage to keep things cool. And if anything at all happens to the fruit's skin -- a cat knocks it while I'm away, for instance -- I get fruit flies until it's winter and they all die.

Also, yeah, I love cold water, and that takes up a lot of room. Part of why I want to redo my kitchen is because I don't have enough height for a proper fridge. (Part is that the cabinets suck.)
posted by jeather at 7:27 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do really like having a larger fridge but I still won't refrigerate fruit or many vegetables. It just destroys the taste. Refrigerated tomatoes or apples are just not very good.
posted by fshgrl at 7:33 PM on October 6, 2013


My old house had a pantry that had been a back porch at some point during its life. Insulated, but no dedicated heat source. It was the perfect food storage option, especially in the winter when the temp would stay at about 50 degrees. Big fridge, chest freezer, and shelves where drinks and non-refrigerated veg went.

This freed up the small kitchen for work space rather than counter space. I did end up getting an undercounter fridge for the kitchen, but mostly because it was on clearance and I didn't want to build another cabinet in the hole left by the old fridge. We used it as a party fridge.
posted by pernoctalian at 7:33 PM on October 6, 2013


Wow, your crazy big-assed fridges are something. I say this after having attempted to help move some of these ugly monstrosities. The current fashion in new fridges and ranges is for restaurant-scale bloat-ware so massive that they often will not fit through a standard door frame. Perfectly reasonable if you need to store and cook enough food to feed a restaurant, but personally I think it is an indication of something odd in North American culture.
posted by ovvl at 7:39 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


If a huge fridge is used to reduce the number of cars trips one makes to the supermarket then it can be seen as an energy saver.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the power consumption of a new fridge. This chart says 492kwh per year. That's about 1.8GJ. By comparison, a litre of gasoline is 35MJ, so 50l of gas, or about 700km in a newer Honda Civic.
posted by klanawa at 7:43 PM on October 6, 2013


Greens last a few days, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli etc easily last 4-5 days in a dry coolish place with airflow

Yeah, for the majority of the US for the majority of the year, the only way to do that is in a fridge.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:45 PM on October 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Simply Economy of Scale. The more you buy at a time, the cheaper you can get it for. Combine that with a carcentric culture that encourage sprawl and it is pretty much guaranteed.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 7:45 PM on October 6, 2013


I've lived in the same tiny apartment in a small town for twenty-five years now, and my kitchen is almost New York small at 5x9 feet, of which half is the giant cast iron sink, the enormous antique Real Host gas stove, and the ridiculous ginormous refrigerator that the man who owned my apartment building between when the bank took all my family's homes after the collapse of our business and when my ex bought the place back into the family ten years ago.

I don't mind the fact that I actually have zero counter space (I work on the broad shoulders of the stove and a cutting board over the sink), but I hate that giant refrigerator like the plague it is, and only ended up with it because the landlord found the giant refrigerator was cheaper than smaller ones.

Thing is—I live alone, I cook elaborate meals twice a day, and I just don't need an enormous monolith looming in my microkitchen like something from Kubrick. I have a set of hanging baskets that I learned to love from my childhood friend whose Dutch mother kept eggs, onions, garlic, and potatoes in a similar set, and I ripped out the old wall cabinets that hung heavily in the place like overpowering metal clouds and put up baskets and racks and open shelves full of mason jars with things I've grown and either canned or dried. Half of my fridge is occupied by bottles of water I keep there because the thermal mass keeps the temperature stabilized (I prefer most beverages at room temperature, anyway), and when I look at what's in there, I could easily live with a nice UK-style undercounter fridge that would give me a couple feet of actual counter space.

For me, it's annoying that the market doesn't allow for that diversity, though—an undercounter fridge is three or four times as expensive as a room-hogging boat anchor, if you can find one, which you can't, because they're generally a special order item that you have to buy sight-unseen. You can get the sort of metastasized college cubes for reasonable prices and sort of tuck them under, but they're not the same. Still, I keep hoping my megafridge will die, and I'll just take the plunge and work to make my old truck last a few extra years.
posted by sonascope at 7:46 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


For beautiful for spacious fridge for amber lagers made of grain, for purple cabbage majesty above the fruits and cheese. America! America God shed His Grace on thee. Maytag, Kenmore brotherhood from sea to shining sea!
posted by humanfont at 7:47 PM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Perfectly reasonable if you need to store and cook enough food to feed a restaurant, but personally I think it is an indication of something odd in North American culture.

Also perfectly reasonable if you have 3-4 teenagers living in your house; do they not have teenage boys where you come from? I don't understand, who shovels the driveways.
posted by elizardbits at 7:48 PM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


elizardbits, I give you refrigerator sorcery.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:51 PM on October 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


I don't like refrigerating fruits that don't need it, but I REALLY don't like bugs in the kitchen, so.
posted by sweetkid at 7:52 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


YEAH I mean, I'd rather have not perfectly-picked-tasting strawberries than one billion fruit flies that cannot fucking be killed by any means known to mankind.
posted by elizardbits at 7:54 PM on October 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


mr_crash_davis, that is almost exactly the same model as my fridge. It's the most wonderfulest thing ever.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:54 PM on October 6, 2013


The worst is when the fruit flies are in the kitchen, and then you want to have a bit of wine, and then there are fruit flies hovering around the wine, and then everything is ruined because there's a little fly carcass bobbing in a wine dark sea, I mean, in your glass. RUINED.
posted by sweetkid at 7:56 PM on October 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Like seriously what were you even thinking fly. Your poor wife and kids over by the sink.
posted by sweetkid at 7:57 PM on October 6, 2013 [29 favorites]


In Finland when I was girl not only did we have a big fridge in the kitchen, but we also had a huge fridge that was just for potatoes.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:58 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Americans refrigerate eggs because they should be refrigerated when treated as specified by the USDA. (previously)

I put bread in the fridge in the summer because otherwise it's humid enough (northeast US) that it'll moulder before going stale. In the fridge, it will go stale a bit faster but won't get moldy.

My fridge is the same "standard" size fridge that I've seen in American homes for 3 years. When I initially moved in here, I tried to get a slightly larger one, but had to send it back as it wouldn't fit up the stairs. So, yeah, there's that.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:00 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, maybe US re-fridg-er-ators are a little bigger than need be. Driving times, leftover-keeping, "convenience" (a loaded term), culture, food and nutrition - and more - make this a complicated issue.

I grew up in a huge family, in the Leave-it -to-Beaver age, where my mom kept a fridge/freeze, a freezer, and ANOTHER deep-freezer in the basement. If ground beef was on sale, she'd buy 20 pounds. My dad bought a half a steer once. She'd buy a hundred pounds of flour from a Mormon friend. You get the idea. Yet: she still called the fridge an "icebox." That's what it was, when she grew up during the depression. In fact: we kids called it an icebox.

One thing missing, by and large, from this conversation (I admit to some skimming), food waste has not been adequately addressed. Considering the amount of food waste in this country, a currently cresting topic on the Web, the slight addition of energy consumed by household refrigeration in this country is hardly worth getting het up about, according to my off-the-cuff computations.
posted by kozad at 8:01 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


...we also had a huge fridge that was just for potatoes.

Was it switched on? It seems such an odd thing to keep potatoes in a cold fridge. As long as it's dark they keep well. We just had a sack by the back door.
posted by Thing at 8:04 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Best birthday present ever: a big french door refrigerator. I adore my refrigerator. Also, I don't think that article was really all that super duper critical of our giant cold boxes. It was just a exploration of why they were big, not a condemnation.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:05 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


beagle: "When I was growing up in Rotterdam, Netherlands in the late 1950s, we had no refrigerator. The milkman, vegetable man and baker came vending down the street every two days with fresh stuff. It kept cool enough on the basement steps."

a) This is awesome and I want to go to there

b) It gets a LOT HOTTER in much of the U.S. in the summer than in much of Europe. In my house we do a certain amount of cellaring but for five months a year we can't, it's just too hot ... and last week it hit 90 degrees (around 32*C), in early OCTOBER for God's sake, and those late-season (or early-season) heat bursts aren't unusual.

We do put some things outside in winter ... plenty of people will keep a case of beer just outside their back door when it's below 40 or so (some people only throw winter parties so they don't have to refrigerate all the soda and beer!). I've put out stock pots on the back steps to get the stock cold enough to skim the fat off before storing, since my stock pot is too big for my fridge. But mostly it isn't very practical.

I live in a neighborhood built in 1945-1950, so the spaces for fridges are smaller than in more modern houses, and most of us have fairly small fridges by American standards (though large, I know, by world standards). I can fit a medium pizza box in my fridge but not a large. We also don't have a lot of garage fridges as the garages are detached (by building code at the time) and many have no electricity run to them. It isn't unusual, when your neighbor throws a graduation party for their kid or an 80th birthday party for grandma, to have your neighbor knock at your door and ask apologetically, "Could I store a bowl of pasta salad in your fridge overnight tomorrow night? I'm trying to pre-prep for the party and I don't have the space in my fridge." I feel their pain, we always have to pick up sheet cakes and deli trays the morning of parties, they just won't fit in the fridge.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:06 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speaking of cool kitchen cooling things, though, my former it's-complicated has a neat feature in his ridiculously oversized old house in Los Angeles—in the traditional pantry, there's a wall cabinet that's built into an open plenum that leads from the basement to a little vent on the roof, with racks made of wood strips and chicken wire that let you store things in a space that keep surprisingly cool by convection drawing cool air from the basement, through the racks, and then out through the roof vent. It's up there with my fondness for the springhouse outside a friend's house where milk, butter, cheese and other things were kept in enameled buckets in a trough full of icy cool running spring water that also fed the house cistern.
posted by sonascope at 8:08 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


My house started out with a massive Wood all fridge (17 cu ft) in an awkward corner, plus a full standing freezer at the other end of the kitchen. The fridge didn't fit properly into the shallow alcove and made the corner counter and associated cabinets difficult to reach.

I finally sold the fridge on Craigslist (with some regrets, because it really was a great fridge), moved the big freezer to the basement, and bought this narrow, true counter-depth LG fridge.

While there are days when I bring home too many groceries to fit because I was planning batch cooking or mass freezing some time that week, which, of course, turns into a same-day job, it generally holds enough. Highly recommended for people with limited space for a fridge. (Sorry, litlnemo, it's 68" tall, so it won't fit your alcove.)
posted by maudlin at 8:12 PM on October 6, 2013


Thing: "Oh sure, that's true. Though I don't know how many ever go through with it. The cost just isn't worth it if you don't need the space. It's really an extravagance for most."

My electric bill in the summer is 30 dollars. Extravagance or not, the fridge is a pretty cheap frill for something that reduces food waste and saves me time.

As a single dude who doesn't consume a half gallon of milk every two weeks, I'm pretty sure I'm wasting a bunch of space on spoiled milk. I could get away with a smaller fridge, but I'm pretty tapped out on freezer space.
posted by pwnguin at 8:17 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apples, bananas, oranges...people are really putting these things in the fridge?

Apples, yes. They last so much longer in the refrigerator; we never get through them all before they go bad when they're kept out.

Also, anyone speaking disdainfully about keeping beverages in the refrigerator fails to understand a basic thing about refrigerators: Large bottles of liquid help keep the refrigerator at an even temperature, reducing the amount of work it has to do.
posted by limeonaire at 8:24 PM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


For the past 3 years I've had a dorm sized fridge. My previous fridge probably held more condiments in the door than the total storage capacity of this fridge. I went for a small fridge because the PV system here isn't good enough to run a fridge, so this is a propane burner, and I couldn't justify a full-size one in gas use or price.

Also, it doesn't have any freezer, and I tend to keep it on the lowest setting except during the hottest summer. Basically I just want it to keep milk from spoiling for a week. It's weird how just having some ice when I'm eating out has become more of a treat than ice cream used to be.

Anyway, I quickly learned that there were a lot of things I could leave out of the fridge without difficulty. Here's a summary of things I used to refrigerate and now leave out:

* around 50% of the produce from my CSA
* nearly any produce I plan to eat within 2 days, even from the supermarket (except lettuce and herbs)
* all fruit, except plums and nectarines, unless I want to eat it chilled the next day
* pickles or all sorts (last forever unrefrigerated, of course, but have not tried sweet ones)
* kalamara olives and capers (may get some fuky mold on top if not used in a couple months)
* sliced pepperoni, sealed in bag (notice this is not always kept cold in the supermarket)
* other sausages, as long as they're sealed in some way
* cabbage (lasts for weeks outside the fridge with little problem)
* carrots (supermarket carrots are good for around 1 week and then get ugly black tips)
* pappers, especially hot ones (have also had good luck drying hot peppers I don't use in time, including some supermarket halapeños just putting the in a fruit basket)
* some butter (have to keep some of it cold for pastry though)
* homemade pies (never go bad before they're gone)
* maple syrup (good for about 3 months, then you have to start pouring it out from under a scum of mold and it tastes fine still but the waste is sad)
* garlic (no problem as long as you go through at least one head per week from the supermarket, or grow your own)
* soy sauce
* teriaki
* lemon juice in a sqeeze bottle (probably lasts forever)
* some mustard (have only tried with rustic whole mustard seed style, which lasted months with no problems)

One thing I've noticed is that when I had a big fridge, I often had a lot of wastage when I forgot things in the back of a drawer, or left things in the freezer for 3 years. And a big jar of mayo always seemed to sit around in there forever until I couldn't bear the thought of ever eating mayo again and threw it out 1/3rd unused. Now I always have planned out when I will use every item in my fridge, and if something is going to go bad, I know about it ahead of time and deal with it, just because it's not worth the wasted space. The only thing I have in my fridge at the moment that I don't have an immediate use for is some miso paste.

All this said, a big fridge is right up there with hot showers in the things I look forward to when I change my living arrangement to something less rustic.
posted by joeyh at 8:28 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh BTW, if you're like me and can barely go through a half gallon of milk in a week or before it spoils, it turns out that the best quality organic milk you can buy spoils about 1/2 as fast as the cheap stuff (and in a *lot* less disgusting ways..). So it's actually possible to save money buying it. Also, if you split the milk into two quart jars, it will tend to last longer (because one isn't exposed to air? I don't know) and when one is used up, you suddenly have an extra quart of space in your small-fridge tetris game.
posted by joeyh at 8:33 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


limeonaire: "Also, anyone speaking disdainfully about keeping beverages in the refrigerator fails to understand a basic thing about refrigerators: Large bottles of liquid help keep the refrigerator at an even temperature, reducing the amount of work it has to do."

As I understand it, the main benefit is that less air travels when you open / close the door. The only proper way to test this, of course, is to make two fridges, store identical things in them and only vary the presence of bottles of water vs empty bottles. Maybe add a third with just empty space as a control.
posted by pwnguin at 8:35 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


pwnguin, one energy-saving trick I've read is that, when the fridge is mostly empty, it's good to fill it with bottles of cold water, which, as you mention, eliminates the need for the fridge to cool as much air when the door is opened.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:41 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


GE Monitor Tops of the kind litlnemo has are indeed quite efficient. Here's a good explanatory article, which also touches on US/Euro size differences and what to look for when seeking an efficient fridge.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:47 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


maple syrup (good for about 3 months, then you have to start pouring it out from under a scum of mold and it tastes fine still but the waste is sad)

I have heard many tales of mouldy syrup and I fear it greatly, but I have had the same jug of syrup in my cabinet for like 18 months and it is still pristine and tasty. It's in a glass jug so I can see that there is no fuzz.

am i a syrup magician

do i have eldritch powers

plz advise
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 PM on October 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


We also don't have a lot of garage fridges as the garages are detached (by building code at the time)

Detached as God intended. Whoever authorised non-detached garages should be made to fix all the air quality problems they created.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:51 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


As handfruit, cold apples are better than warm apples. Objectively so.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 8:52 PM on October 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


And I don't know anyone who chills fruit.

Oh, there's something very satisfying about biting into a chilly Valencia orange at the height of a 44 degree Canberra summer.
posted by smoke at 9:04 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


My electric bill in the summer is 30 dollars. Extravagance or not, the fridge is a pretty cheap frill for something that reduces food waste and saves me time.

It is the straightdown cost which is offputting and extravagant. Even the cheapest "American-style" are two to three times more expensive than ordinary size, and a so-so brand can easily cost the same as a normal size Miele or Smeg. Just not worth it if you don't need the space, though they are very desiresome.
posted by Thing at 9:05 PM on October 6, 2013


Putting a stalk of celery in with your bread, and making sure it stays well-sealed in a plastic bag, will keep it fresh and moist in the fridge far longer.

Every place I've lived in the US, leaving bread at room temp means whatever I can't eat in a week or so starts getting moldy.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:21 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thing: "It is the straightdown cost which is offputting and extravagant. Even the cheapest "American-style" are two to three times more expensive than ordinary size, and a so-so brand can easily cost the same as a normal size Miele or Smeg. Just not worth it if you don't need the space, though they are very desiresome."

I don't know what things cost where you are, but appliances last a while. A cheap hotpoint fridge is 625. If it lasts 5 years and costs 3 times the price of whatever it is you use, amortizing the extra cost works out to 6 dollars a month plus perhaps an extra 15-20 dollars in refrigeration costs. If it saves me 1 hour a month, it's a good deal.
posted by pwnguin at 9:23 PM on October 6, 2013


The size of my fridge is what the landlord provided.
posted by scottymac at 9:37 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't help but read a little OH YOU GREEDY OBESE AMERICANS WITH YOUR MASSIVE GREEDY OBESE FRIDGES into this, honestly.

At least you're honest, because honestly, that's a pretty uncharitable reading of the actual FA.
posted by notyou at 9:42 PM on October 6, 2013


Waiting from someone to come in saying they literally have an "ice box" and they buy fresh, organic ice blocks daily from the locally sourced ice fields within 100 miles of Brooklyn, NY. In the winter they can their ice and bury in a cellar deep below their apartment so they'll have it all summer. It keeps things cold _way_ better than regular big box store ice that people in the suburbs buy.
posted by stp123 at 9:47 PM on October 6, 2013 [24 favorites]


As I understand it, the main benefit is that less air travels when you open / close the door.

Keeping fridges stocked would be an example of thermal mass, although hard to say how efficient it is with other fridge habits.
posted by Brian B. at 9:50 PM on October 6, 2013


in the traditional pantry, there's a wall cabinet that's built into an open plenum that leads from the basement to a little vent on the roof, with racks made of wood strips and chicken wire that let you store things in a space that keep surprisingly cool by convection drawing cool air from the basement, through the racks, and then out through the roof vent.

My current SoCal place, built in 1924, has one of these. We use it as a regular old pantry. There's also a built-in breadbox.
posted by notyou at 9:53 PM on October 6, 2013


Oh for pete's sake. My household, we're one of those couples who live in an urban area with marvellous access to produce, butchers, etc. We hit up the market or grocery every day and cook mostly from fresh ingredients. We also have a container garden that supplies a plethora of herbs and a respectable amount of vegetables. I pickle and jam and can. I bake our bread. We use very little in the way of convenience or prepared foods.

We have a normal American-sized refrigerator, and it's pretty full because of all of the above. A full fridge isn't necessarily saying what the author assumes that it's saying.

Buying fresh produce from the market doesn't mean only buying enough of each vegetable to make one meal for that day -- we buy enough salad greens for the week and finish them, we buy a bundle of asparagus and use it a few different ways that week, etc. Cooking from scratch means we've got leftovers in the fridge and in the freezer. Canning means we've got a bunch of open jars of pickled things and jam in the fridge. The odds and ends of veggie trimmings go in the freezer to be used for stock. Stock gets portioned into pint containers and kept in the freezer. The fridge is the best place for the array of cheeses we have (wrapped in paper rather than saran wrap, though, of course.) The yeast for the bread keeps longer in the fridge. Plus, there are the beverages, hello.
posted by desuetude at 9:54 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am comfortable with my refrigerator selection.
posted by mazola at 10:01 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


My (American) wife puts lots of things in the fridge that I would never have done growing up in foreign parts: eggs, bread, fruits and vegetables, butter, peanut butter, jam. We have one entire shelf filled with different kinds of flour, which I would have put in a cupboard. At a guess, I'd say about half of the contents of my fridge are things that I wouldn't normally refrigerate. I personally find it slightly inconvenient, because many foods are better at room temperature and you end up with cold damp bread and hard butter, but you know, when in Rome…

So part of it is that Americans just refrigerate a lot more things, which has more to do with an excessive paranoia about cleanliness around food than anything else. American supermarkets are usually clinically white, clean and brightly lit. So many things are unnecessarily individually wrapped, like if you go to a restaurant and they have a bowl of mints, those are almost always individually wrapped, where I remember as a kid it would just be a bowl of mints. Lots of Americans won't drink from the tap because they feel that tap water is tainted, so they use water filters. Water dispensers are installed in fridges, and that makes the fridges bigger.

Americans love ice, and ice makers take up a lot of space in freezers. You also eat a lot of frozen food, so you need a bigger freezer (and of course a toaster oven, mostly used to cook frozen food). These factors also contribute to larger fridge sizes, possibly more than American overeating or shopping only once a week.
posted by AlsoMike at 10:09 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


AlsoMike, if you kept that brush you're painting Americans with in a fridge, you could swap out your incredibly broad one for a few smaller more accurate ones...and they'd last longer, too, without getting so flagrantly stiff.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:20 PM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


The article was kind of crap, IMHO, because it didn't address the central question at all: why SO big, compared to other (similar) countries? I've been reading Apartment Therapy for years, and have always wondered at the phenomenon of massive American fridges, so I was mildly excited when I saw the title of this FPP.

All of this slight scorn for American laziness ... it would really be better place as slight scorn at the American puritan work ethic and corporate obeisance. People are tired when they get home. Those of us who have jobs work long hours and have few breaks. Oh sure, you can work twenty hours in a day, go to the gymn and bench press 2,000 pounds, and then go home where you will whip up a perfect chicken cordon bleu with freeze-dried goji berry sherbet for dessert, and that's great, but if you think that means everyone else can--or should--then you're part of the problem.

See, I don't think that's it. I mean, it's true, but it doesn't explain the fridge thing.

I live in an extremely car-centric Australian city. Most people I know work corporate jobs, have busy lives, and don't live within walking distance of anything resembling a fresh-food market or supermarket. They all drive to a supermarket once a week and load up, just like you guys. They're certainly not hand-churning yoghurt when they get home from work, either.Our lifestyles are really not that different.

Yet most people think my 420-litre fridge/freezer is pretty huge. I don't know the capacity of my parents' fridge, but it was significantly smaller than mine, and they raised three kids, both worked full-time, and lived a 20-minute drive from the nearest store.

Wow, your crazy big-assed fridges are something...Perfectly reasonable if you need to store and cook enough food to feed a restaurant, but personally I think it is an indication of something odd in North American culture.posted by ovvl at 7:39 PM on October 6 [1 favorite +] [!]

So do I. Not necessarily 'odd-bad', just 'odd-interesting'. There's a lot of defensiveness in the comments, which I kind of understand, but as a non-American I'm not trying to be critical. It's not a moral judgment, it's just a fridge.
posted by Salamander at 10:25 PM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Greg_Ace, I agree. The flour thing is unusual in America. My wife does gluten-free baking which requires many types of flours. Most Americans don't do that. Everything else seems pretty accurate, and as the world's remaining superpower and the only country in the world that is able to spread its culture across the entire globe, perhaps a bit less sensitivity wouldn't be a bad thing and maybe some open-mindedness about how other people do things.
posted by AlsoMike at 10:33 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ironically, none of the refrigerators shown in the article are actually all that bigger than the average Dutch fridge. My own fridge is about the same size and certainly couldn't fit a week's shopping worth of (bulky) vegetables.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:49 PM on October 6, 2013


It's not a moral judgment, it's just a fridge.

Ironically, the fridge once represented thriftiness and preservation in America, which were moral terms to the industrial Puritan culture America was founded on. Americans felt the need to have big fridges because in the 1950's they commercialized plastic wrap, called Saran wrap. This created a social revolution in leftover food storage. Other storage systems came after, but plastic film wrap preserved huge amounts of feasts and dinners as storage. This slowly raised the demand for larger and larger fridges. Everything else about the increased size came along later as frozen food, because it was industrialized processing common to America, and freezing allowed people to buy lots of stuff on sale and in season and store them long term with least effort compared with canning or putting up in jars.
posted by Brian B. at 10:50 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't really need fridge space because I prefer to buy all my food direct from restaurants like god intended. What do I win?
posted by jacalata at 10:52 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


“Refrigerator lust is one of the things driving huge energy-use increases in the developing world,” wrote one blogger quoted in that article.

Well, with impeccable sources like that how can I not be convinced?
posted by markr at 10:53 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


We had a crazy, crazy pantry moth infestation when I was a kid which got me trained to refrigerate things (bread, flour, peanut butter) that I wouldn't normally. Nothing like opening a jar of peanut butter and finding it crawling with larvae!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:02 PM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Every place I've lived in the US, leaving bread at room temp means whatever I can't eat in a week or so starts getting moldy.

I suppose I'd never expect bread to last a week. If I buy more than I can eat in a few days I freeze it.
posted by fshgrl at 11:32 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi, having experienced the same horrific event, I'd love to give you a favorite of solidarity, but... eww. Bad memories.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:34 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here in Texas those huge roaches will just poke their heads right through the bread wrapper and start chowing down. Gotta keep anything you don't want chewed by bugs in the fridge or in air tight containers. Fridge is easier.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:42 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yet most people think my 420-litre fridge/freezer is pretty huge. I don't know the capacity of my parents' fridge, but it was significantly smaller than mine, and they raised three kids, both worked full-time, and lived a 20-minute drive from the nearest store.--Salamander

Now you've got me curious. How full was your parent's fridge? Would your parents have preferred to have a bigger refrigerator? Did they just buy less things or make fewer leftovers that needed refrigerating? Why do you have a bigger one than your parents? Do you fill it up?

Maybe American's lived in big houses and big refrigerators were being offered at a good price, so they just bought what was in the store. More Americans now live in apartments and condos and notice the comments here where people are complaining about smaller fridges. I think anyone can find a way to live with whatever they are handed, though. Maybe the two countries' average refrigerator sizes will even out.
posted by eye of newt at 11:52 PM on October 6, 2013


ha! I was also thinking of the pantry moths horror. I'm lucky enough to have been spared so far, but only barely. (Found some dead ones in a jar of rice hidden behind a lot of other stuff in a cabinet. whew!)

I am totally jealous of Big Lusty American Fridge. Do want. However, I haven't managed to have one myself for my entire adult life, usually because the kitchen is too small (often because the kitchen itself is the size of a big, lusty American fridge). Our current place could fit one, but I'd have to sacrifice either the table in the kitchen (noooo! I love the table in the kitchen!) or cover up the nice window door in our kitchen (pic), so, no again. So our fridge is small. It's bigger than an under-the-counter size, but not by a lot, and the only time there's really enough room for it to be mostly convenient is in fall/winter, when I can keep the vegetables outside.

There's only enough room in the freezer for a couple bags of frozen veg, the ice trays, one container of frozen broth and maybe a frozen chicken breast or two. I definitely cannot cook n' freeze, which is a shame. Just trying to jam a big pot of chili, stew, or whatever into the fridge overnight is a major pain. I'll often put those outside, too, when it's cold enough... which seems sort of silly, but I just don't seem able to keep a whole shelf free to easily store larger leftovers. So, yeah, solid fridge envy here.
posted by taz at 12:17 AM on October 7, 2013


You will take my giant refrigerator/freezer from my cold, well-preserved, hands.
posted by Cranberry at 12:18 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


cover up the nice window door in our kitchen (pic), so, no again.

I feel your pain. But yes, like you, I think sacrificing that table and window view for a "Big Lusty American Fridge" ain't worth it...
posted by Mister Bijou at 12:34 AM on October 7, 2013


Ugh, this has been on my mind for several months.

And what really brought it to the front of my mind was the fact that i moved in to an apartment with a large kitchen, but a really oddly laid out one. It's enormous for an apartment, but because of the way the counters/cabinets are laid out i only get one of those mini(i've heard "european style!") gas stoves that anything wider than 12in won't fit in the oven of, and a 24in wide fridge.

The old fridge was a dying piece of shit with fucked up door seals and tons of rust that ran 24/7, so it was replaced with a STATE OF THE ART TURBO ENERGY SAVER GTI model by the landlord. I was impressed with the rating of how incredibly little power it was rated to use... but absolutely dismayed. instead of being 80/20 fridge/freezer like the old one, it's more of a 60/40.

So now i basically have a dorm style fridge.

My partner immediately hated it, as did i. But anywhere you go you encounter tons of "I LIVED IN A PLACE WITH A TINY COUNTER HEIGHT FRIDGE AND IT WORKED AND I LOVED IT" with a strong undercurrent of "lol fat lazy americans lol" especially if the person is talking about having done it in europe.

Not to mention that once you really get in to the class/privilege implications of this it starts to remind me an awful lot of this shit. Especially when you start talking about people who live fairly far from the nearest grocery store, work long hours, need to conserve funds and buy in as much bulk as possible, etc.

In the end, a tiny fridge only works if you do one of two things

* Choose variety, but constantly buy small amounts of ingredients. Or shop at farmers markets and then prepare only the amount of food your eating that day whichever path you chose there.

* Prepare more food than you're going to eat, but that's it. You're now eating that until it's gone for the next few meals since if you prepare anything else you won't have room to save it unless you make a single serving amount.

Either route you choose, you're fucked and often stuck paying the price premium for smaller containers of basically everything. You can't shop for much of anything that needs refrigeration in bulk since where the hell does it go? I used to be big on stocking up on certain things at costco(especially frozen/refrigerated stuff) and the last trip was entirely "oh, can't get that, won't fit unless it takes up a ridiculous amount of the available space just for itself".

So both of those above paths end up seeming like something that seems totally reasonable and workable if you have a middle class amount of money, and the free time to go shopping and cook regularly. In my life what ended up happening was that i was spending way the fuck more money constantly ordering takeout because i didn't want to eat the same thing for lunch or dinner 3 days in a row.

I hate my stupid small fridge and it's giant freezer, taunting me with the fact that anything i'd buy in bulk frozen and prepare i wouldn't really be able to store refrigerated. The only things that really work in the frozen>eating situation are unhealthy things, or stuff you can pinch small amounts out of the container of like frozen vegetables for making little amounts of stir fry at a time or something.

I just can't get over how much easier it was to buy groceries, prepare more food than i intended to eat in one sitting and store it to reheat or just eat cold later. It felt more efficient from start to finish having a larger fridge. And all i see is "well you're just stuck in the rut of the large fridge lifestyle" type of stuff when i bring that up.

This reminds me a lot of the whole "no one needs a car" debate, honestly. And i don't mean the car vs bike one, just the whole "americans are addicted to cars and tons of people drive who don't really need to, in fact almost no one does look at almost any other country" one. A ton of parallels can be drawn here with the way this is being presented. And there's a lot of similarities.

If you live somewhere where you actually need a car to get to work(or at the very least, would be drastically inconvenienced, once again loaded word there) then you probably realistically need or would be seriously inconvenienced to not have a large or at least upper medium/"normal american" sized fridge. I live a 10-20 minute walk from 3 grocery stores and a block away from a weekly farmers market, and i still think it's more efficient by a huge pile of metrics to stock up in spurts rather than have a tiny fridge and constantly be making shopping trips.

I think there's some kind of romantic, almost bohemian "living light and going with the flow" thing being romanticized with the small fridge thing here. As if a large fridge indicates a comparitively pack ratty, "lazy" almost hikikomori like lifestyle. And i find that entire premise incredibly sophomoric, LOL AMERIKKA, and tiresome.

I was going to write another paragraph about how this isn't the only thing i've seen recently that's likely going to get a ton of shares and blast all around social media and blogs for slagging on parts of the american lifestyle that either aren't that bad, or are just victims of circumstance and not signs of excess... but i'll just let it drop. Suffice to say that i think the entire premise of this is flawed since it really needs to be framed on "lots of people in america, and especially some poor people in are constructively driven in to managing their home food supplies this way, lets look at why" and not "haha american fridges are so big, lets maybe look at why as an aside".
posted by emptythought at 12:34 AM on October 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


Here in Texas those huge roaches will just poke their heads right through the bread wrapper and start chowing down.

I lived in two different places in Texas that had no functioning refrigerator, because we were poor and slumlords gonna slumlord.

I can assure all y'all that it was total bullshit, especially since when you are poor enough that you have to live in a slumlord house with no fridge food is REALLY IMPORTANT. Sometimes during the winter it is possible to keep things outside, but most of the year, not only is it at least somewhat warmish but there are bugs everywhere. Things also go bad very quickly - I got horrible food poisoning at least once directly due to lack of adequate refrigeration.


We managed, somehow, but we rarely got to eat fresh food, and since of course the neighborhood we lived in was kind of a food desert there was no virtuously browsing the market each day for fresh sustainable free range home schooled local produce.


So if you don't think you need a refrigerator, you just knock yourself right out. I would rather not go back to eating assorted canned chunks and bugs and food poisoning.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:41 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not long ago I visited a cousin in Holland who had a very small under-the-counter fridge where he kept milk and a few other things, but for the rest, all his storage was as I remembered from 50 years earlier, on the basement steps.

Yeah, your cousin is very much an outlier. Most sensible people in the Netherlands do have proper fridges.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:59 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


When my mom was a baby, they kept her bottle of milk cool by sitting it in the sink and leaving the cold water running over it (water bills were based on the number of faucets a house had). Fridges are wonderful things.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:58 AM on October 7 [+] [!]

When my mum was a baby her mum kept her in the Coolgardie Safe. It was the next best thing to a fridge until my grandparents eventually bought a kerosene powered one. Summers in the Australian Mallee were fierce. With our summer high temperatures climbing still, I think the first comment in the thread is on the money.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 1:18 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I watched an architecture television programme recently here in Ireland where an American husband and his Irish wife were rebuilding the back of their house in Limerick. The American guy was generally very passive and genial about the whole thing, but the one moment he absolutely disagreed with the architect head-on was over the fridge. The architect proposed a single-door 6-foot-tall large fridge, covered by the same press door wood panelling as the rest of the kitchen (essentially hiding it). The American, without really being able to explain it, insisted on an entirely massive double-door thing, and would not allow it to be covered to look like the rest of the kitchen. The architect later hypothesised that the fridge was in some way important to the American's notion of a successful, well-off home, and worth displaying in that context. That the American had feelings about comfort and success tied up with that fridge that were quite alien to the Irish psyche. The American's position did seem strange to me, because who wants to look at a fridge door? They're usually pretty awful.

Having a counter-height fridge is really annoying (for the tiny freezer rather than the smaller fridge), but a not-massive 6-foot-tall one is really fine for most people if it is packed efficiently (most don't seem to be). But I don't love my fridge, or even really like it. I like them best when they're kept in a room outside the kitchen.
posted by distorte at 1:31 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't read "greedy fat Americans LOL" into this article, although I understand the sensitivity.

Fridge sizes are indicative of where we as a society are. America (and affluent middle classes that consume like America), that has large fridges, and developed countries where food distribution has moved to a primary model developed in the US - big box, out of town supermarkets targeting weekly shoppers. This includes countries like Australia and Canada, most of Western Europe, increasingly Eastern Europe and with Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco moving aggressively into Asia more commonly countries like South Korea and Thailand too.

Big fridges are, basically, a function of cheap food prices. They encourage bigger shopping baskets and more waste, even if consumers would be horrified to see themselves as part of that process. Cheap food prices are a function of cheap oil and efficiency in the food processing system. Since WW2, the percentage of income accounted for by food in countries like America (and elsewhere) has shot down. It's now levelling out, having continued to fall even in the past 30 years. Food is cheaper in America than anywhere on earth, by quite a margin. This cheapness is fantastic for consumers. But it has a social cost. And an environmental cost. And one way its price, and the food processing and distribution system that supports it, is evidenced is by big fridges.

We have basically reached the end of the golden years in that a) in countries like the US we have realised most of the efficiencies we are going to get in the food processing system b) oil is increasing in price and c) demand for fresh food, meat and dairy is going to increase dramatically. On that last point, we typically point to countries like China and India, whose middle classes are growing at an explosive rate. But looking globally, the middle class is about to expand in a way we can barely conceive with growth across Asia, a doubling in size of the middle class in Africa and high growth in South America too.

Bear in mind that "middle class" in less developed countries just means people earning more than $10 a day. These new middle classes are barely consumers in Western terms. As they get richer, they want the things we have - fridges, even bigger fridges for the ones that already have fridges, TVs etc. It is going to put tremendous upward pressure on oil prices unless we find alternative sources of energy. At best fracking and other new oil and gas fields delay the problem. We will also see huge competition on food resources and with that the first place we'll see it is meat, dairy and intensive cash crops.

In that respect, fridge sizes are a symbol of what will have to change. And America, which is so often used as the symbol of the consuming developed world middle class, represents where that change will be felt.

Because the cost of food has been going down for so long, we are now more than three generations into the era of cheap food. Baby boomers, their children and grandchildren have only known food prices to fall. This is true in America and also true to a lesser degree in other developed countries. We expect cheap food. We don't typically see big fridges as part of a wider system that is not sustainable in its current form.

The era of cheap food as we know it is ending. In truth it has already ended. As we go through the process of denial or ignorance and continue to demand cheap food, the first place we'll see the change is in substitutions - where more expensive products are bulked out with cheaper ones. We see this already - corn syrup is a great example. We also see a switch away from brands as a cost-saving measure. We'll continue to see things like your seafood processing being outsourced to cheaper countries like Thailand and supermarkets won't be in a rush to pay workers living wages so they can be more expensive than their rivals. But, eventually, food prices will have to rise. In fact, across Europe, they already are rising in countries where supermarket penetration is high. In those countries meat is, for example, far more expensive now than it was 10 years ago.

So, back to fridges - where once big fridges, like big cars, were seen as a sign of affluence they will come to be seen as indicative of waste - both waste in the wider system (big box supermarkets are the problem) and waste on the part of the individual. Because consumers like to rationalise price choices as ethical ones, eating less meat and cutting food waste will take on a greater moral dimension. Or a moral and a health dimension. We see this already with initiatives like Meat Free Mondays.

And, as with oil, we can expect the same sorts of dialogue - denial there is a problem at all, the search for market or technology-based solutions (lab-grown meat, for example), blaming the system (for lack of public transport read lack of local shops or local supply chains) and not the individual, claiming that the right to consume excessively is the freedom of the individual, consumption as morality etc etc.

So yes, fridge sizes are not just hurf durf Americans and certainly not hurf durf butterball Americans. The issue is far wider than America and obesity is a factor in the discussion but it is an output of a complex range of factors that extend beyond cheap food and excessive consumption. But at a country level fridge sizes are an interesting indicator of a culture and food distribution system that will undergo radical change in the next fifty years.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:59 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now you've got me curious. How full was your parent's fridge? Would your parents have preferred to have a bigger refrigerator? Did they just buy less things or make fewer leftovers that needed refrigerating? Why do you have a bigger one than your parents? Do you fill it up?

In order of questions:

- usually fairly full, but not jammed or anything

- I don't know, but I doubt it. The only time their fridge was inadequate was Christmas, when we hosted big family dinner. Then my parents turned on the small bar fridge in the garage for a few days, and used that for the overflow. After us kids moved out of home and they renovated their kitchen, they actually downgraded to a smaller main fridge.

- I have a bigger fridge than my parents because it was the only quality-brand, bottom-mount-freezer model available at the 'seconds' store (i.e. ex-display) when I was buying. I love it for the huge freezer, but no, I don't fill it up and I don't really need it to be as large as it is.

Don't get me wrong, I'd rather chew my arm off than make do with only a mini-fridge or under-counter fridge, or whatever you call them. I don't think there's anything righteous about living with inadequate refrigeration. My point was that everyone I know in Aus has a full-sized fridge, but what we consider full-sized seems to be WAY smaller than the American ones. Like, my sister's family of 2 adults and 3 kids has a fridge the same size as mine, and they think it's fine.

(And FWIW, I'm talking about people with large, spacious houses, two incomes, double garages, swimming pools, and so on. I am confident it is not an issue of space, finances, or availability of said massive fridges. Just...they're not at all popular, IME.)
posted by Salamander at 2:18 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Also, anyone speaking disdainfully about keeping beverages in the refrigerator fails to understand a basic thing about refrigerators

Well, no. I was speaking (not exactly) disdainfully about keeping beverages in the refrigerator from the point of view that if you don't do that, you don't need such a big fridge. And so the air-flow/thermal mass thing is moot. My little fridge is chock full without any beverages. If you prefer not to have cold beverages, but you find you have to keep them in the fridge because otherwise your fridge is too empty to be efficient... well there's something strange going on.

On another note, I just remembered that the largest freezer I ever saw was at my husband's relatives' place in Sweden, where they use it for storing entire elks.
posted by lollusc at 2:23 AM on October 7, 2013


I once worked in Italy alongside numerous other newly-arrived British and US expats. Something that united the latter group was despondency about the tiny refrigerators they encountered in their new apartments.
posted by misteraitch at 3:37 AM on October 7, 2013


Heh misteraitch - the only people I've known to have walk-in cool rooms in their (admittedly very large) homes were Italian immigrants to Australia. I would love a walk-in cool room in my house.

I have a large fridge (for the UK), and another one the same size for beer and freezer overflow in the conservatory. I've had the undercounter fridge in a previous home and never again. I hate supermarkets with a passion and so only shop once per month (fruit, veg, eggs, yoghurt etc we get delivered once per week, and we're vegetarian). I'd hate to have to go back to the tiny fridge and shopping more frequently - ugh.
posted by goo at 4:18 AM on October 7, 2013


(And FWIW, I'm talking about people with large, spacious houses, two incomes, double garages, swimming pools, and so on. I am confident it is not an issue of space, finances, or availability of said massive fridges. Just...they're not at all popular, IME.)

Yeah, this is also my experience in the UK. My parents have always had under-the-counter style fridges, including when they were both working full-time and had three teenagers at home eating like locusts, and we never lived anywhere with a great local market in walkable distance or anything. They weren't exactly in double-garage or swimming-pool territory but they could probably have afforded a massive fridge if they needed one, and certainly a bigger fridge by UK standards.

I'm guessing the giant fridges aren't so popular here because people aren't used to them and are used to doing fine with smaller fridge spaces even if not as small as under-the-counter (and so don't expect to have all drinks chilled, are fine with Tetris-style cramming rather than everything neatly arranged on shelves, etc), so it doesn't really seem worth it. Bigger fridges take up more room, eat into the available counter-top space, are expensive, so why bother if nobody else you know has one and it's never felt like something you needed? It's more about different expectations than totally different lifestyles - and I'm not saying Americans have the wrong expectations, just that it's not like everyone everywhere else is living a relaxed lifestyle of local fresh-food markets and relaxed workdays in contrast to the US, either.

My current fridge isn't huge but is still way too big for the two of us, and if it wasn't a rented house I would swap it out for an under-the-counter sized fridge tomorrow to get some more surface space in the kitchen. But its freezer does have a section just for ice cubes, which feels like the height of slightly pointless luxury.
posted by Catseye at 4:20 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


So many things are unnecessarily individually wrapped

Bizarrely, I've found this not true in the US, but very very true in the UK. Seeing how elaborately wrapped produce is in supermarkets just blows my mind every time I'm over there. (The exception being smaller towns outside London, where this seems to be less of a thing.)
posted by Kitteh at 4:46 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Catseye - kitchen size is definitely is an issue in the UK. The average house size in the UK is 75-85m2. Average houses in Canada (181m2), the US (201m2), Australia (214m2), New Zealand (195m2) are 2.5x to 3x bigger, for example. Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and France are all smaller than 115m2.

Furthermore, the current building trend in the UK is towards smaller apartments rather than larger houses because the growth demographic is adult individuals or couples rather than families.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:01 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best fridge I've ever seen for keeping beverages cool was the one out at a friends camp in the woods. It is a large plastic tub which is spring fed from the natural spring that used to run down through the sot where the camp was into a small stream. Instead it got routed through the tub and into the stream via an overflow pipe buried in the ground. Just drop whatever cans or bottles you wanted into the tub and it would keep them cold indefinitely using only the power of the cold water flowing downhill.
posted by koolkat at 5:27 AM on October 7, 2013


Baby boomers, their children and grandchildren have only known food prices to fall.

I'm not sure how it feels in the US or (back home in) Australia, but here in the UK we've seen food prices rise significantly relative to wages over the past five years, while wages have been static. If I had to guess I'd say it's something like a 25% increase, maybe more. Butter is the one I always notice: routinely £1 or even cheaper for a typical 250g block before the recession, now £1.60 or (sometimes) two for £2.50.
posted by rory at 6:02 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I go straight home from work, it takes me 5 minutes. If I go to the grocery store first, doesn't matter how little I might buy, it takes me 40 minutes and I've burned more gas and get home crankier.
posted by Foosnark at 6:06 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


A smart refrigerator could be built into an outside wall and use cold outdoor temperatures to do most of its work, when available. During summer months, the considerable heat produced by the compressor could be vented outside, rather than inside.

Well, if we wanted to be really smart and efficient about it, we'd understand that modern homes have multiple appliances to move heat around or generate heat. So we'd design houses and appliances that interact so that we can vent the heat from the refrigerator or a/c compressor into the hot water heater where it can do some work instead of being an annoying waste product.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:16 AM on October 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm not sure how it feels in the US or (back home in) Australia, but here in the UK we've seen food prices rise significantly

Indeed: But, eventually, food prices will have to rise. In fact, across Europe, they already are rising in countries where supermarket penetration is high.

In more developed Europe, including the UK, there is less wiggle room to depress food prices. They're now rising with demand and input costs like the cost of wheat, animal feed or oil.

Stronger food safety, employment and competition legislation as well as consumer pressure for quality means that reducing quality or cost cutting is harder. The supermarkets already compete strongly on price - all the more so in countries like Germany where discounters are the norm. In addition, supermarkets already control the vast majority of grocery sales and private label (i.e. store brand) penetration is already at or nearing its upper threshold in lots of countries. They can do things round the edges - improve logistics, decrease some wastage in the supply chain, consolidate suppliers, open smaller stores, but they aren't many soft targets to keep the cost of food down so they're passing those costs on to customers.

In less developed Europe (Poland, Romania, Hungary etc), the big retailers are still building market share so economies of scale can still work its magic.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:19 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a NZer that's lived in the USA for 12 years, by far the biggest difference is that my (American) husband insists on keeping enough beverages to supply two football teams in the fridge. So at any given time we have about dozen cans of soda, a couple dozen bottles/cans of beer and assorted other sparkling waters, juices etc.

Was quite eyebrow raising for me at first, but not worth arguing over, because we've always had the giant American fridge so there's still enough room for our once a week food shopping to go in there. Without all the drinks, we'd get along fine without the giant fridge.
posted by gaspode at 6:47 AM on October 7, 2013


The American, without really being able to explain it, insisted on an entirely massive double-door thing, and would not allow it to be covered to look like the rest of the kitchen.

I've seen pictures of really nice, fancy kitchens where the fridge is hidden, and it just looks really weird to me. I like wood paneling, I like all that Shaker and Japanese design where Stuff Is Not Out All The Time, but I don't like the hidden fridge. Partly, it just seems wrong, like putting the stove or the sink behind a paneled door. Partly, in my weird hybrid blue collar/snob-intellectual upbringing, things-that-look-like-things were vulgar. Like, it was vulgar to hide the television - there were people who might get, say, some kind of antique cabinet and have it refitted to conceal the television, but that was vulgar because it reflected sort of a nicey-nice, prim anxiety to be genteel. Things that got used regularly should be kept in decent condition, visible and accessible, and if you were genuinely ashamed of the television, then maybe you should bite the bullet and get rid of it. And of course, other things-that-look-like things - old books hollowed out to be boxes, toilet roll covers, that sort of thing - were just horrible on the face of them. The hidden fridge really gives me a "it is weird to be this anxious about the appearance of your fridge" vibe. I recognize that this is totally a cultural difference, but for this USian, it's not about wanting to see the fridge, it's about feeling like it's a little weird and repressed to hide it.
posted by Frowner at 6:59 AM on October 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


Not everywhere outside the US is a stone's throw from an awesome outdoor market.

I used to live in a house share in a part of London where the only supermarket that wasn't a bus-ride away was a frozen food store. As I worked shifts - often 10hr days, late evenings or very early starts - and was usually away on the weekends I wasn't working, I was used to taking advantage of my day off to go to the supermarket and buy all the things I needed for the week, with only a ten minute walk or so to the nearest large store (few markets in my part of London). Then I moved to this place where I had a total of one shelf in the fridge to call my own, and four of us shared an icebox-sized freezer. And mice. The landlord actually told me off for 'keeping your shelf too full' (?) and told me I should shop daily 'like everyone else'.

I didn't stay there long.
posted by mippy at 7:01 AM on October 7, 2013


Please don't refrigerate tomatoes! They'll lose whatever flavor they may have!

There's produce you should definitely not refrigerate, like tomatoes, because it fucks up their texture.

You guys are blowing my mind right now
posted by likeatoaster at 7:11 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do like having a large freezer. I don't do a lot of home growing and freezing like Mom did, but I like getting a bunch of stuff when it's on sale.

However, I readily admit that I have twice as much fridge as I need. It comes with the apartment, so there's not much I can do about it. When I lived in my little shack in the woods, I had a half-sized fridge, and I'd get annoyed about not being able to have gallons of milk or cold multi-packs of beer or soda, but then when I moved into an apartment and got the big fridge, I kept throwing away unfinished gallons of spoiled milk and keeping up the habit of putting two or three beers or sodas in the fridge at a time. The fridge is never full. And I never use the crisper drawers, because out of sight, out of mind.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:15 AM on October 7, 2013


This graph shows that although the average refrigerator size has increased by about 20% since 1972, the average energy consumption has decreased by about 1/2 to 2/3s. And that energy use is predicted to decrease by about 50% over current levels through new energy-use standards set to take effect in 2014.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 7:16 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, tomatoes can get mealy in the fridge! Apples do too to an extent but not as badly. Also unless you live somewhere extremely hot or extremely damp then there is no reason to refrigerate onions and garlic. (or unless you live somewhere with thieving monkeys, then everything should be locked away from their little monkey hands)
posted by elizardbits at 7:17 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


You should never put bananas in the refrigerator! The song says so!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:22 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nthing the bug protection. When we have had infestations of various bug kinds or even worse, mice, the fridge was the only place to safely store food while we got things cleaned up/killed/chased out. I don't have a handy supply of bugproof/mouseproof metal cans to store all my cereal, bread, and rice.

Leftovers, too; we tend to cook some kind of meat/vegetable and/or starch twice a week and eat off of various permutations of that food the rest of the time. My fridge is currently full of oven-roasted potatoes I had to cook last night because the bag I had was getting old and in danger of spoiling if I didn't cook them. Thanks to refrigeration, I can take them to lunch and reheat them all week.

Many of my friends had chest freezers as well as fridges when I was growing up. They are excellent for people who hunt and eat game, or raise livestock and need somewhere to store an entire butchered animal that the family eats on for months, as well as a stock of other frozen foods. If we had a bigger family, we might consider one, especially as our son looks likely to be a giant, constantly hungry teenager like his father was. If I had a family full of those, I might need to do some serious discount food shopping.

Before fridges, you salted or spiced your food into near-inedibility to preserve it, or canned and pickled it (an extremely labor-intensive process that can sicken you if not done right), or turned it into jerky, or stored it briefly in underground rooms that might or might not keep it cool enough to not kill you when you ate it. Or be eaten by invading critters.
posted by emjaybee at 7:50 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Butter is the one I always notice: routinely £1 or even cheaper for a typical 250g block before the recession, now £1.60 or (sometimes) two for £2.50.

I moved to London in 2005, and I remember economy butter being 50p and an economy loaf of bread was 20p. (I had a housemate who earned just about the minimum wage.) Now a block of economy butter is £1.10 and I think the cheapest loaf you can get is about 70p now - if you want brand-name bread, it's about £1.50 now.
posted by mippy at 8:04 AM on October 7, 2013


ONS stats on the cost of an average loaf of bread:

Oct 2002 - 57p
Oct 2003 - 60p
Oct 2004 - 65p
Oct 2005 - 75p
Oct 2006 - 83p
Oct 2007 - 91p
Oct 2008 - £1.26
Oct 2009 - £1.21
Oct 2010 - £1.20
Oct 2011 - £1.19
Oct 2012 - £1.26
posted by MuffinMan at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "lol fat americans" stuff wrt enormous fridges puzzles me. The pre-processed convenience foods that I associate with American obesity don't have to be refrigerated -- what has to be refrigerated is produce, meat, fresh dairy, and leftovers. And all the "what, you don't need to refrigerate vegetables!" people don't seem to understand that America is HOT. When I lived in Texas, we kept our air conditioning set on 82 degrees Farenheit, 28 degrees Celsius. Veggies don't last quite so long under those conditions. Now I leave my butter out, as well as my eggs (we get fresh farm eggs that are fine unrefrigerated), onions, garlic, hand fruit, etc. but strawberries? Salad greens? Baby carrots? Those are untenable unrefrigerated.
posted by KathrynT at 8:29 AM on October 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


We drink seven or more gallons of milk per week, and only one of our four kids is a teenager yet. Half the damn fridge is milk!!

We were talking with a designer & a contractor last month about maybe re-doing the kitchen, and the designer's one MAJOR INSIGHT is that you pick a site for the fridge and the whole rest of the kitchen falls into place around it. Grudgingly, I came to agree...and ours isn't an especially huge fridge, either.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:35 AM on October 7, 2013


Earlier this year I replaced the fridge in my apartment. It was from 1986, sounded even older, and didn't have a self-defrosting freezer. Finding a model that actually fit in the shallow, short space was tricky, as most new fridges are very deep and/or very tall. (I checked out Smeg. Too small and too expensive.) The only suitable candidate was a Frigidaire Gallery, which stuck only about two inches from the counter. It's got 18 cubic feet, a stainless steel front, removable shelves, a self-defrosting freezer and it keeps everything deliciously cold. I love it. It's full of milk, cheese, yogurt, kale, cabbage, leftover pasta and Pellogrino soda (oh crap, I'm out of beer!). My kitchen is unfortunately too warm to keep much on the counter, including fresh bread after a few days.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:36 AM on October 7, 2013


The "lol fat americans" stuff wrt enormous fridges puzzles me. The pre-processed convenience foods that I associate with American obesity don't have to be refrigerated

Agreed, that's why I don't get the 'enormous fridge' thing in the first place!

Also, Australians are fat buggers too, sadly, and getting fatter.

And all the "what, you don't need to refrigerate vegetables!" people don't seem to understand that America is HOT.

Yeah, ditto Australia. Not many fruit & veg will survive long outside of a fridge in a West Oz summer, trust me.

I'm leaning towards the explanation for the huge fridges being (partly) the beverage thing. Based on my vast and rigorous research of watching American tv shows and movies, I get the impression that Americans drink a lot more soda, juice and even milk than other developed countries. There are often these humongous plastic jugs of juice on the breakfast table in American sitcoms, whereas most people here just drink...water. I mean, I can't remember the last time I had a soda, and I never drink anything but water or coffee with breakfast.

Oh, I dunno. It remains a mystery.
posted by Salamander at 8:38 AM on October 7, 2013


With respect KathrynT, I think people do understand that America gets hot. The heat in Texas is not exceptional to Spaniards, Greeks, Portuguese, Australians etc.

I don't subscribe to the 'lol fat Americans' view re fridges. Americans have big fridges largely because they can and because they perceive a need for them.

The point, however, is why or how large fridges are [perceived to be] needed where they typically aren't in other hot and/or developed countries.

To which, like most questions of this nature, there are are variety of reasons, no single one of which screams "and therefore you need a big fridge."
posted by MuffinMan at 8:42 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


My dad went to grad school when I was a wee beastie. The way my folks did it with two adults and two kids on a grad school stipend was with a freezer full of meat. They did one of those, "buy a half a cow and we'll give you the freezer to store it in!" So that thing sat in the living room of our tiny Berkeley apartment and our house was the one all those hungry grad students were hanging around at dinner-time.

Having cold storage capacity is like having money in the bank. You can take advantage of deals and store them until you need them! I still view my freezer and pantry as a savings account. A DELICIOUS savings account.

We Americans have the ability to make and store inexpensive food that Europeans just don't have.

Most all of the Expats I work with found it quite easy to adapt to inexpensive groceries, kept in abundance, in the big fridge.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:52 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Our fridge is mostly full of leftovers, and we eat them. We finally caved and bought an additional mini chest freezer, which for lack of anyplace better to put it, lives in our bedroom (there is now much debate over whether it would substantially decrease its usefulness if someone put, say, a decorative textile and a lamp over the top, please, just something to make it not look like there is a freezer taking up a third of the home office area, please?). We cook a lot. We do shop more than once a week, with lots of shops in walking distance, but we have guests frequently (including relatively frequent influxes of teenagers) and a dog whose nose reaches the countertops, so without a big fridge where would we put all the food?

Meanwhile, for those who want to have the big fridge / small fridge lifestyle both ways, here's my latest fridge obsession: A Door-In-Door-Fridge (!!!)
posted by Mchelly at 8:52 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Especially when you start talking about people who live fairly far from the nearest grocery store, work long hours, need to conserve funds and buy in as much bulk as possible, etc. — emptythought
Then let's talk about it from the perspectives of city planning, working hours, and poverty! It's not about making fun of Americans, it's about looking at how society functions structurally, and how it could work better.

Because a lot of the reasons I've seen in this thread for big refridgerators are exactly the kind of thing the original article wants to discuss (but never really does): politically relevant factors that manifest as seemingly banal household choices.
posted by mbrock at 9:10 AM on October 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


The heat in Texas is not exceptional to Spaniards, Greeks, Portuguese, Australians etc.

I have no personal data on Australia, but similar temperatures in the Mediterranean are simply not as oppressive as in Texas or Florida, because of the absolute total and complete lack of useful heat-avoiding architecture in hot US states (AZ and NM occasionally excluded). It is okay to live without a/c in the Med if your house has 3-foot thick stone walls. People are also, in general, much smarter about shuttering windows in the oppressive heat of the day to keep in the previous evening's coolness.

In the US almost no one bothers to build that way, barring a certain small percentage of wealthy single-home-owners, because everything is terrible and short-sighted and ridiculous. In some of the hottest states in the nation you will still see fancy homes with floor to ceiling south-facing windows because it looks pretty like that.

we are a dumb country filled with people who have largely forgotten how to live without "standard" mod cons, and, even if we have experience in doing so, our average living situations preclude the usage of this incredibly useful and beneficial knowledge.

see also: terrible city/suburb layouts dependent on car travel.
posted by elizardbits at 9:16 AM on October 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Buildings aside, the humidity tends to be worse-- my host family in Italy would routinely leave leftovers on the stove, covered, overnight. If you did that in DC in the summertime, your leftovers would generally be garnished with incipient fuzzy strands and slime...
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:19 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Was it switched on? It seems such an odd thing to keep potatoes in a cold fridge.

Yes. It wasn't as cold as the fridge in the kitchen. You can trust Finns to look after their potatoes well.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:23 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The humidity thing is so odd to me. I mean, you are totally correct and I know this from personal DC swamp experience, but then I read comments above from people reminiscing about storing food outside in the Netherlands, which also has reclaimed land. Is it the northerliness of their country? Is it secret dutch magic? Are they just better at drainage? Are they just better at life? All signs point to yes.
posted by elizardbits at 9:23 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it secret dutch magic?

they're probably fending off the horrors with salty black licorice, so yes, this
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:27 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, tomatoes can get mealy in the fridge! Apples do too to an extent but not as badly.

What? I prefer my apples cold. No, prefer isn't a strong enough world. I demand my apples cold. Plus, apples will last much longer in the fridge than they do at room temperature.

When we replaced our circa 2002 in 2009 (because it was a General Electric piece of shit) I had a little bit of trouble finding a fridge to it the space designed in 2002. Apparently between 2002 and 2008 the "standard" went from 22 ft to 25ft, if I remember the numbers correctly. There were only a couple of options in the smaller size at Sears, where as there were 12+ in the larger size.

We find 22 cubic feet to be barely adequate for a family with two teenagers.
posted by COD at 9:28 AM on October 7, 2013


In some of the hottest states in the nation you will still see fancy homes with floor to ceiling south-facing windows because it looks pretty like that.

Our family room (in VA) is always 4 degrees hotter than the rest of the house because of west facing windows at the top of the two story family room that suck in the afternoon heat. They are about 18 feet up, so I'd need some sort of expensive motorized blinds on them to block the sun. Years ago I bought a darkening film for them, but lacking a 20 foot ladder to get up there the film never got installed.
posted by COD at 9:32 AM on October 7, 2013


So, so many comments here reflective of a near-approximation of the post's byline: "What refrigerators say about our culture yourself."

By clicking on the link to the article, I considered the author's POV while viewing the accompanying photo, of a landfill showing side-by-side thrownaway or hurricane-ruined refrigerators.
And I was forced to consider what some folks voiced here: that opting to hit the groc's once/week saves on the energy otherwise used to motor to the market in more frequency. But the abandoned appliances photographed revealed to me what the *overall* energy expenditure of a locality overpopulated with multiple refrigerators would look like. You can defend your personal fridge's size for the sake of convenience, but supermarkets' is for necessity. They are expected to stock a prescribed quantity of goods acc. to market trend and customer demand. I don't think therefore of why my smaller-than-standard fridge (U.S.) could *save* me more time or save the ecology more energy if I upgraded to Supersize and cut back to 1x/week grocery visits - - rather I think of the supermarket storing those for me til I can get to them, it's what they're there for. And what I need to have on hand -- sans children or dependents nor much entertaining habits to sustain w/ added foodstuffs -- will suffice with my substandard "icebox" just fine.

* I have always liked the term "icebox" and enjoyed the history included in the article
** I totally get when families require larger fridges - - I just don't understand the vehement retorts in some of these comments //\\ proportionate to the article's premise
*** If you're overworked and/ or displaced from easy reach of a grocer on the way home from work, or rely on public transport limiting how much to carry in a single visit, that is no less reason to take so PERSONALLY from a message offered on behalf of *what* excess castoff refrigerating appliances do to our landfills, American-sized ones particularly, in American landfills
**** I also keep a wine mini-fridge (holds 8 bottles) adjusted temp- for keeping the butterdish so it won't turn full solid as in the reg fridge but stays spreadable; also bananas keep well and bread won't mold as easily in these moderate-chilled extra's
***** I admit for the sake of cooking home-cooked meals 3-4 times/ week I sacrifice doing other stuff I'd rather do instead, like chill out. But I sit at work 8 hours a day. It's surprising how after I've spent 45 minutes average cooking a square meal, dashing back & forth on my feet, I can feel adrenaline reacquainting w/ my body again~
posted by skyper at 9:38 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


We have a narrow German AEG fridge. It came with the house when we bought it. I don't know where the previous owners got this thing, but they somehow hooked it up to a 220V line and everything. German buttons and german instruction manual. God forbid if you leave the door open longer than like 3 secondsBEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. DAS COLD IS ESCHCAPINK!! ACTIVATE DAS BLINKENLIGHTS!

Though it took a bit of getting used to, I actually like the smaller capacity fridge. It handles a week worth of fresh groceries for a family of four just fine (we do have an additional mini chest freezer in the basement for freezing bulk soups, sauces, etc). I think we waste less food, or at the very least throw out the stuff that's gone bad more often. It's like living in a smaller house, you just learn to be more efficient with your space.

But the fucking german beeping.
posted by Kabanos at 9:51 AM on October 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Kabanos, the German word for 'beep' is 'pieps'.
I'm not sure whether that makes it better or worse; I'll leave that up to you.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:08 AM on October 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


My big fridge is awesome, I can just keep stuffing food into it that I can then forget for like MONTHS until I can no longer stuff any more food into it and am forced to clean it out.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:29 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


You guys drink a lot of milk. Jesus Christ on a Holstein.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:40 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


MFK Fisher has this absolutely harrowing account of living in Provence - Provence! - in the summer with no refrigeration and the huge fucking slog it was

Where on earth do all these people writing about Provence and more generally France actually live. I have lived here for 14 years now and never, ever, not once, seen a home without a refrigerator. Most people who own houses also have a deep freezer. Seriously, are these authors doing it on purpose? So it sounds all quaint and stuff? One old French friend of mine is actually from deep Provence; his father is a farmer, hunter, and truffler. He owns beagles he trains to truffle. They live in a stone farmhouse with walls so thick it doesn't need insulation, basically the sort that non-French authors fall over to write about. Two refrigerators and two deep freezers. Filled with canned food and meat.

Anyway. That said, it is true that in many, if not most, US cities, big stores are on the outskirts, whereas in Europe, cities have been around for so long that you can get most of your shopping done not far from home if you're a city-dweller. Living in the countryside is different, more like the States, and consequently, most people not in big cities have larger refrigerators and usually a deep freezer. Not as big as American ones, but big by local standards.

As for groceries when you're walking, you buy your own shopping "cart"! Kind of like rolling luggage, but a big bag. I can easily fill two weeks' worth of food for myself into just one. Families come with two, or take a car. I don't know many people who shop more than twice a week, though fresh fruit and vegetables are an exception. That's kind of a local specificty though, we're in rich farmlands and it's just too tempting to stay away from all the fresh, local produce.
posted by fraula at 10:56 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have never been jealous of a refrigerator, until I heard of yours, Kabanos. I want my fridge to yell at me ACTIVATE DAS BLINKENLIGHTS when I offend it.

I suppose my fridge is slightly smaller than the average American fridge, but it is usually half empty. I wouldn't mind a smaller one, actually, but I'm a renter and I don't get to pick. I find when I have more space than I really need (this applies to everything, and not just the fridge) I'm more likely to fill it up with things and forget I have them, and then wind up with three jars of the same mustard, two of them expired.

Also, I lived in Provence, with a host family, for a summer. They definitely had a refrigerator. My host mom thought it was really bizarre that I loved ice water on hot days, though.
posted by inertia at 11:02 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Youtube doesn't seem to have the video clip of the song and dance number from The Drew Carey Show where he sings about his dream refrigerator ("Forty Cubic Feet," to the tune of "Forty-Second Street,") after his old one dies, but they do have the song.

Bonus clip of the cobbled-together "Frankenfridge" the gang tries to console him with.

One of my favorite episodes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:06 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the future, refrigerators will come with udders. Cold, delicious udders.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:07 AM on October 7, 2013


And if you can't wait, for the princely sum of £14.95...
posted by MuffinMan at 11:29 AM on October 7, 2013


> I can't help but read a little OH YOU GREEDY OBESE AMERICANS WITH YOUR MASSIVE GREEDY OBESE FRIDGES into this, honestly.

Pretty much, this. I would bet if the roles were reversed, and it was Europeans that had massive fridges, that would somehow be seen as a good thing. LOL ESTUPIDE AMERICAINS AND YOUR TINY LITTLE REFRIGERATORS.
posted by elmwood at 11:34 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am stunned by the amounts of milk people are drinking. And I grew up in Minnesota, descended from Scandinavians. Aside from pouring it over cereal or into coffee, are US adults actually drinking multiple glasses of it every day?
posted by theory at 11:35 AM on October 7, 2013


I just got my dead-on-average 17.5cf Fridge delivered this weekend. After shopping around I would have guess the average was much larger.

(and, theory, most of that milk is being consumed by my two-year-old son.)
posted by JBennett at 11:42 AM on October 7, 2013


I would pay good money for a fridge that, if left open, would scream "ACHTUNG! Meine Tür ist offen! Schließen Sie es sofort!*" at rock-concert volume. And when it's broken in some way it would scream "ACHTUNG! Ich habe in meine Hosen gescheist!"

*if google translate can be believed
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:43 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


We always have a gallon jug of milk in the fridge, but yeah, about 95% of it is consumed by my 2-year-old. My spouse and I only drink milk with cookies or cake, so it's very rare we drink milk at all. I pour a little into scrambled eggs or over the occasional bowl of cereal.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:52 AM on October 7, 2013


> Where on earth do all these people writing about Provence and more generally France actually live. I have lived here for 14 years now and never, ever, not once, seen a home without a refrigerator. Most people who own houses also have a deep freezer. Seriously, are these authors doing it on purpose?

To be fair to MFK Fisher she probably was writing about Provence of fifty or sixty years ago, not the 21st century.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:53 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just don't understand the vehement retorts in some of these comments //\\ proportionate to the article's premise

I found this interesting too, because I thought the article was actually pretty nonjudgmental and balanced. But I think the defensiveness (I feel it too) comes from the fact that the food-writing climate on the internet has been especially judgy in the past few years, and people are getting fed up with it. It's easy to feel sensitive about it because food: you literally have to eat it and often your choices about how to do that are limited by factors beyond your control.
posted by Ouisch at 12:31 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never drink milk- even as a kid, I have no memory of ever sitting down and consuming a container of milk as a beverage. I eat it on cereal, but when I was buying larger amounts it was because I baked a lot, which I no longer do.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:34 PM on October 7, 2013


Just to clarify, my fridge does not yell in German (or even Hollywood German-English) at me. But it does pieps like crazy, and the flashing red "Kühlen" light makes me imagine a sort of German HAL that will one day kill me.
posted by Kabanos at 12:40 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is one of the many things that is so much nicer about living in NYC than when I used to live out in the 'burbs. There are 2 grocery stores within a couple of blocks of my house, both on the walk back from the train, and the local farmers market is multiple times per week. It's not a problem to stop in for a little something on the way back from work or running errands, so I don't need massive amounts of storage space (and all my food is fresher). I have an American-sized fridge, but it's pretty sparse and orderly in there.
posted by antinomia at 1:01 PM on October 7, 2013


Kabanos, not to make you paranoid about the relationship with your fridge, but I am imagining a scenario out of Woody Allen's routine on mechanical objects.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:09 PM on October 7, 2013


I need my ginormous refrigerator for all my non biodegradable carryout boxes. Oh, and Mountain Dew.
posted by Kokopuff at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2013


blaming the system (for lack of public transport read lack of local shops or local supply chains) and not the individual

How is this invalid or unproductive though? I see this as being on the same level of legitimacy as the "minimum wage is not a living wage" arguments. How are things like food deserts and rising housing costs driving people out into the exurbs/suburbs/shitty interstitial areas of major metro areas the fault of the individual? I mean in aggregate maybe, but then you're back to the system pretty much.

The people on the receiving end of that dicking can't do much of anything to change it, nor should the onus really even be on them. That point i pull-quoted actually is one of the main pillars the discussion should be tentpoled by, honestly.

But I think the defensiveness (I feel it too) comes from the fact that the food-writing climate on the internet has been especially judgy in the past few years, and people are getting fed up with it.

Not only that, but that a huge amount of it centers on LOL AMERICANS(and to a lesser extent western europeans) YOU DO THIS THING XYZ WAY AND MOST OF THE REST OF THE WORLD DOES IT YZX WAY, THEREFOR YOUR WAY IS STUPID AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO EXAMINE WHY MUCH OF AT ALL JUST SLAG ON THE NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTES.

You really don't have to go far at all to find this sort of thing. And there's plenty of other subjects that are easy to get a rise out of people even on MeFi, but somehow this one has this air of "and if you complain or retort it's just because you're defensive, embarrassed, and i've exposed your soft gross underbelly". The urge to, and ease of which you can get slapped on the back and cheered on for going "lol america" is just too powerful i guess.

As far as that goes i don't think this is a particularly bad article at all. But in aggregate with all the other more tiresome stuff it definitely quacks like a duck.

The "lol fat americans" stuff wrt enormous fridges puzzles me. The pre-processed convenience foods that I associate with American obesity don't have to be refrigerated -- what has to be refrigerated is produce, meat, fresh dairy, and leftovers.

I think it's just that they're simply physically large. And that in and of itself makes it easy to lampoon. Right up there with hummers and excursions, and other "obvious symbols of american excess" stuff. As you can see above, the larger fridges nowadays are actually significantly more energy efficient(and environmentally friendly due to new refrigerants, standards of materials recyclability, etc) than older smaller fridges... and in addition to that most fanless small under-counter type "minifridge" style fridges are shit on the energy usage/size equation.

It's easy to present lots of arguments along the lines of buying in bulk and stockpiling things being more efficient everywhere from time wise and monetarily(lol now we're back at "convenience") for the individual to on the carbon based fuel front since you're making less trips to the store(that you likely have to drive to). But yea, it's just too easy to make fun of LOL GIANT FRIDGES LIKE BIG SUVS GET IT GUYS? as far as i can tell.

Next up: "what the size of carts at costco say about americans". o my god they seat two kids side by side can you believe that? is it for one really fat kid? lol
posted by emptythought at 2:58 PM on October 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


I just think the whole premise is wrong. People in Europe have smaller fridges because.. they always have? And its not a problem because they're used to it. I really don't think it has anywhere near as much to do with food availability as the author thinks.

One thing I've noticed with big American fridges is that there is always something very old and very moldy forgotten at the back which suggests the room is not needed quite as much as people think it is.
posted by fshgrl at 3:09 PM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've written before about the generational/national divide between my parents and me when it comes to food waste/cooking, and this is definitely reflected in food storage as well. My parents (non-American) have an older typically American fridge that is filled with mostly all of the cheaper bulk/oversize products: hug jugs of milk/juice, giant pot of soup Mom made to last the week, other leftovers, beer, etc. But they also leave tons of stuff out: butter, bread, almost all fruits and veggies. The result: well, I can't really attest to the improved taste of the produce or bread because when I visit them I'm always fighting off hordes of ants and fruit flies, as well as having to cut off or around all of the mold that springs up on the bread and fruit after about 3 days, especially in the spring and summer (my parents are in a humid region).

As for me, their American daughter? Everything--except banannas, avocados, and the occasional stone fruit I will eat within 24 hours--is refrigerated. And I have a kitchen blessedly free from ants, fruit flies, or other rodents that I know for sure dwell in my apartment building, because I've seen them in neighbors' apartments. Also, I never have to cut mold off of my bread, for which I am also grateful. I'll take the rodent- and mold-free food conditions over the quintessence of tomatoes/apples/whatever any day.
posted by TwoStride at 3:13 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Milk: are US adults actually drinking multiple glasses of it every day?

Not necessarily every day, but right now I'm enjoying a frosty glass of milk with my cookies before heading to bed.

Mmmm, milk and cookies.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:31 PM on October 7, 2013


My big-ass fridge keeps a gallon of raw milk fresh for two weeks.
posted by planetesimal at 8:51 PM on October 7, 2013


are US adults actually drinking multiple glasses of it every day?

When I lived with my uncle and his family, three of us, my cousin, my uncle and I drank one, sometimes two glasses of milk each night at dinner. Every day. We went through gallons a week, and it wasn't uncommon for him to tell me to drive to the store before dinner to get some more milk.

Now that I live overseas, I don't usually drink milk by the glass anymore, though I will, from time to time, take a big swig from the 1 liter carton in the fridge. Also, if cookies are being eaten, milk. It's the humane thing.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:24 PM on October 7, 2013


I gave up on eating cereal when I realized that they either have enough sugar to power 12,000 kindergardeners for one thousand years, or are stuffed full of unnecessary whey, that vile poisonous fart juice. SO now I just drink milk alone rather than fiddle about with Gritty-Os. I go through about 1.5ish gallons a week.
posted by elizardbits at 9:51 PM on October 7, 2013


blaming the system (for lack of public transport read lack of local shops or local supply chains) and not the individual

How is this invalid or unproductive though?

I'm not saying it is invalid. I think there are direct analogies between the two conversations. Americans have cheap food and cheap oil (relative to Europe), and its infrastructure and culture is what it is. It's why LOL Americans type comments miss the point. This is not about cramming your fridge full of stuff you're going to eat. It is symptomatic of a food distribution network and consumption culture that is efficient at delivering cheap food but wasteful at the point of consumption.

Non Americans love to hold up America's excess as if the very idea is alien elsewhere. In truth, many British and others would love a big fridge and some do own them. Shopping patterns across lots of rural Europe are weekly shops in big box places. To the average sub saharan African, the idea of a rotund Frenchman with his car, big house, big tv, fridge, freezer etc lecturing an American on excess or wastage would be curious. America is both cautionary tale and fairy tale.

But it's funny how in, say a conversation about race, sex or wealth people are quick to recognise their privilege. Mention food and the barriers go up and one does see some curious explanations about why something is necessary or essential when it is neither. Big fridges are useful and convenient. Having them is a privilege, like any other we benefit from. I think it's fair to point out that the idea that a large fridge doesn't seem like a privilege within the culture is itself interesting.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:37 PM on October 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


My fridge is medium sized but packed to the gills.

I became aware of the class system again because of a comment in this thread about not having lots of soft drink in the fridge and I just became all self conscious.

Goddamn, I hate being a loser (but not enough to do anything about it).

Anyway, I like cold fruit. What's wrong with that?
posted by h00py at 8:28 AM on October 8, 2013


MuffinMan: "But it's funny how in, say a conversation about race, sex or wealth people are quick to recognise their privilege. Mention food and the barriers go up and one does see some curious explanations about why something is necessary or essential when it is neither. Big fridges are useful and convenient."

Isn't that, by and large, what most people are saying here? That large fridges are useful and convenient, not that they are they are vital for survival.

Worth nothing also that we buy the refrigerators that are for sale in the stores, and the typical sizes of the things are dictated by marketing research and gods-know-what consumer trends gibberish. If you want a smaller-than-average fridge, you can either spend a LOT of money on something super fancy-pants marketed as "European-styled" or you can buy a bare-bones, no-name brand cheap "apartment-sized" fridge marketed to owners of rental properties. Neither are really a very good deal; most of us get the most efficient and best-rated fridge we can afford.
posted by desuetude at 9:36 AM on October 8, 2013


One thing I've noticed with big American fridges is that there is always something very old and very moldy forgotten at the back

My dream refrigerator is like 10 feet wide, 18" deep, and the bottom shelf is at knee-level. I want a cold/frozen food library rather than a cave of abandoned furry Gladware.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:18 AM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here you go, Lyn Never.

It's "counter depth" (24") so not quite 18". And it's only 5 feet wide.
posted by notyou at 11:09 AM on October 8, 2013


I will buy two, it's fine.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:10 AM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's actually two of the 30" models, stuck together. So it'll be four of those.
posted by notyou at 11:12 AM on October 8, 2013


It's "counter depth" (24") so not quite 18".

Still, it would mean a lot less obsessively arranging my food like a school choir with the tall stuff in the back, with an aisle for dragging it forward, and maybe I wouldn't have to keep a stool nearby for getting at the right angle to see the food at the back of the top shelf of the lower compartment. My bad shoulder feels better already.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:56 PM on October 8, 2013


Don't get rid of the stool. Those Liebherrs are nearly 7 feet tall (80").
posted by notyou at 1:25 PM on October 8, 2013


But it's funny how in, say a conversation about race, sex or wealth people are quick to recognise their privilege.

This strikes me as an utter strawman. Where are you seeing these discussions take place that people don't get defensive or go "but what about the *!" when confronted with that? If anything, this seems like a lot of reasonable responses backed up by more "this is exactly how and why" type of explanations than just "but shit sucks for me too it's not all on the other side!" type of responses you get to that other stuff.

Mention food and the barriers go up and one does see some curious explanations about why something is necessary or essential when it is neither. Big fridges are useful and convenient. Having them is a privilege, like any other we benefit from. I think it's fair to point out that the idea that a large fridge doesn't seem like a privilege within the culture is itself interesting.

And once again, no one is saying it's necessary and essential. No one would die without a giant fridge. And now we get right back to the loaded "convenient" issue though.

Many poor and generally underprivileged people have large fridges. Hell, my aunt who lives in a trailer in one of the most depressing towns i've ever seen in the middle of bumfuck nowhere and several friends i had growing up who lived in section 8 housing had big fridges.

I don't see any barriers go up, i see you trying to make the facts and situation fit your predetermined mold of how big fridges are a sign of opulence and privilege that's unacknowledged from top to bottom in this country or something.

What i present, is that i think big fridges are like cars. Many people argue constantly that having a vehicle is a privilege and very few people really need one. And yet there are a lot of people at the very low end of the socioeconomic scale who yes, barring small rural towns and assuming their urban could likely survive without one so it isn't theoretically necessary. But they would probably suffer pretty greatly having to take transit to work one side of town and pick up their kids on the other every day. At the same time, plenty of people on the complete opposite end of the spectrum have cars that are absolutely displays of wealth and privilege.

Fridges are kind of the same way. A large fridge is not some shining beacon of unacknowledged privilege when it's used to hold a bunch of food bought in bulk once or twice a month with food stamps or taken home from the food bank(although those have recently switched to very little refrigerated food, i'll acknowledge. I remember it being a hell of a lot more perishable stuff when i was a kid).

You can move the goal posts to make a fridge look like a badge of privilege just like you can with cars, but a lot of the reasons behind either being necessary to prevent further hardship are fairly systemic. But once again, i really do think a lot of people(including possibly yourself) are fixated on the "large size = large like an SUV" sort of mindset with this.

When i think of a big fridge, i think of my aunt piling in a bunch of bulk containers of stuff from the grocery store thats like an hour away in a rural part of the state, or me and all my loser musician friends in our slumlord flophouse piling in stuff from a costco and grocery outlet run. Only if someone mentions it being a giant restaurant style fridge with wood paneling to match to the cabinets does it make me think "privileged american lol".
posted by emptythought at 2:36 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I need my large refrigerator to keep all my plates of beans from spoiling.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:45 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my corner of the world, these are currently the fridges people crave. American-style refrigerators are "so" pre-crash.
While I agree many different factors contribute to the American fridge anomaly, I suspect the most important factors are demand for space for beverages (and ice), much bigger houses, and design-preferences, in that order.

In several threads here on Metafilter including this one, I've been surprised at how many Americans of all cultural and social backgrounds eat out or take away several times a week, and obviously are finding it completely normal. So it makes no sense to assume that Americans need to stock more or that it has to do with only shopping weekends. Lots of people work full time and mostly shop on days off, all over the world, and they cook three full meals for families every day.

This photo-series was interesting, though. It seems to me that families outside America are eating more legumes, rice, pasta or potatoes, which aren't refrigerated, and also seem to be buying bread and fish fresh every day (or every time they want it), rather than storing bread for several days or eating frozen fish. Come to think about it, even in the worst food deserts here, there will be some sort of sale of freshly baked bread (bad bread, though), and lots of people will bake at home daily.

It's really fascinating to see what different cultures expect or dream of, when it comes to quality of life. And fridges are an interesting marker, with lots of layers.
posted by mumimor at 2:47 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the major considerations to our recent house remodel was to do away with a ghastly 1955 era kitchen, open up the living area, and provide adequate space for a proper fridge. We chose the largest french door, freezer-under, true counter depth LG we could get without a water dispenser (takes up too much door space and Boulder tap is exceptionally good, at least from our source, which incidentally is the same source as is used for Eldorado spring water).

For reference, our house is a 1050 square foot 1955 single story ranch; a basic boring-box tract home in which we've replaced the shitty cheap plumbing, shitty cheap wiring, shitty cheap roof, shitty cheap windows, shitty cheap appliances and utter lack of insulation that it came with in 2007 when my husband bought it from the original owner.

We don't have room for a chest freezer or a "garage fridge" like so many of our suburban cohort peers, as our attached "garage" is an 11'x20' joke of an alleyway that is barely sufficient to the task of cramming in 12 bicycles, six pairs of skis, 3 shelving units for helmets, shoes and miscellany, along with all the other attendant accessories and spare gear related to said hobbies, a vast assortment of tools and gardening equipment, a bike stand, and (minimal) workbench space, not to mention a pair of laundry machines, the crawl space access, and the biggest wall mounted tankless water heater we could get our hands on. So no garage fridge or chest freezer for us, alas.

We don't drink soda, or orange juice, or milk, or beer, or really anything besides water, red wine, coffee, tea and the powdered electrolyte mix we use on long hot rides that's made up in the bottles on an as needed basis. We don't eat processed packaged food, cereals, grains or legumes, so nothing like bread gets kept in our fridge. We do eat quite a few eggs, and don't have a reliable source beyond the grocery store, so it's USDA-protocol washed / refrigerated eggs for us, again, alas. We don't store any type of fruit in our fridge beyond berries, which would otherwise rapidly succumb to heat and/or fruit flies.

Things like apples, citrus, onions, garlic, potatoes, etc... are all kept in especially configured airy wire mesh bins in the built-in pantry we included in our kitchen remodel. If you're fortunate enough to be able to afford a higher end set of cabinets, this is now a fairly common option; I'd imagine this sort of storage concept may trickle down eventually (what's old is new again!)

As our house is not centrally air conditioned, and despite that we are at 5,400' elevation, there are a total of about 8 weeks during summer when the daytime temps remain above 90°F and we aren't able to keep much in the way in this dry storage area, despite all of my husband's diligent thermal management protocols (open the house at night and run fans to allow it to cool, close everything during the day). I have also battled fruit flies, house flies, pantry moths, mice, centipedes, earwigs, miller moths and a vast array of spiders, so during the remodel I found a supply of sealed storage bins to keep our various dry goods (mostly nuts and dried fruit) safe in the pantry. This was a rather extravagant cost outlay, but over time it will pay for itself in not throwing things out because they're crawling. I have spares to store things like garlic in when the height of bug season hits (June, mostly).

Our household is 2 adults, no kids. Both of us work 45-ish hour weeks, train and ride or run as a hobby roughly 12 hours weekly. Our typical habit is to do a big once-a-week shop followed by a couple of large / leftovers-providing cooking sessions weekly as it saves a huge amount of time and means we don't have to spend on meals out.

We have one car that we only use on market days and travelling-to-bike-race days. We sometimes walk to the grocery store (15 minutes' walk one way) but it's not really time efficient to our schedules. At least twice a month our weekly shops involve bulk runs at Costco for various reasons, quality and socioeconomic considerations being among the key ones.

Our huge, expensive, luxurious American fridge and freezer is constantly packed full with a variety of things like fresh berries, eggs, produce by the metric shitload, cheese, fish, homemade yogurt, charcuterie, pre-packaged homemade lunches (I made a huge batch of rice-free dolmas on Sunday that's this week's current selection) and things like a giant casserole full of crustless quiche or a stockpot full of chicken soup, etc... We rarely let anything go to waste and we almost never eat out, or out of a box.

I freely admit that our lifestyle exudes the privilege of choice and wealth. However, when I was flat broke poor in the inner city, I maintained a similar set of habits with far cheaper ingredients purely out of necessity. I was fortunate enough to have decently sized fridge/freezers in my various shithole apartments (that could hold things like 4/$1 melons or lettuce heads in season or an 8 pound pork shoulder roast bought on "manager special"; i.e. past its sell-by date, or giant bins of cheaply made chili or stir-fry), I sincerely have no idea how else I'd have afforded to live, because eating out is incredibly expensive, I mostly lived in food deserts, and I rarely owned a car.

tl;dr: it's complicated.
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:03 PM on October 8, 2013


I had to manually defrost our piece-of-shit fridge last night. I was pulling off four-inch-thick lumps of ice with my bare hands and also a hammer. Super satisfying but got me wondering, why did I leave it so long? Certain things on the shelves had actually been swallowed by the ice - turns out we did already have some soy sauce. No beer, sadly. Point is, we need a new fridge.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:09 PM on October 8, 2013


6 pairs of skis for 2 people? I mean, I know there are different kinds of bikes if you're serious racers, but is multiple pairs of skis a thing or is it just too hard to sell them?
posted by jacalata at 4:10 PM on October 8, 2013


I saw "12 bikes" and assumed they were amphibious octopi until I saw the traveling to bike race line.
posted by elizardbits at 4:44 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


6 pairs of skis for 2 people?

- metal-edged touring (backcountry) skis x2
- skate (Nordic cross-country racing) skis x2
- carving (downhill/alpine/"normal") skis x2

the first 2 are "nordic" type skis, meaning you make them go by striding or skating, not by taking a lift, so they can be skied uphill or down; the skate skis do require a groomed track howevs.

this completely ignores other variants (as we're by no means "serious" skiers) such as:

- classic (nordic xc racing) skis - these you don't skate, you stride in a groomed track
- powder fats (alpine DH skis for powder days / tree skiing on lift-served resorts in quasi-backcountry conditions)
- telemark alpine (downhill skis old school style with free heels for climbing, you turn by doing a bent-knee lunge); this is fucking hard and also insane; people ski these on multi-day hut trips and I am in awe.
- alpine touring; same as telemark but with a lockable heel for off-piste steeps (this is the badassery sort of thing you see in Warren Miller movies)
- slalom skis, for DH slalom racing on lift-served groomed terrain

and probably six or seven other flavors I'm forgetting and can't be arsed to look up. Oh and we have all the boots and associated poles and irons and waxing table and tools and other random bullshit that Nordic skiing requires as well.

tbh we also don't have: dedicated time trial bikes, dedicated all-mountain / freeride or downhill bikes, track bikes (sold mine recently) fatbikes (for sand / snow) or cruisers, so by some standards we are dilettantes at the cycling thing as well. We did just buy a pair of Gates drive singlespeed commuters, so there is that.
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:45 PM on October 8, 2013


I had to read Lonefrontranger's first comment two or three times, and I'm still not entirely sure it isn't a parody of some sort.
posted by lollusc at 8:00 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


We don't drink soda, or orange juice, or milk, or beer, or really anything besides water, red wine, coffee, tea and the powdered electrolyte mix we use on long hot rides that's made up in the bottles on an as needed basis. We don't eat processed packaged food, cereals, grains or legumes, so nothing like bread gets kept in our fridge. We do eat quite a few eggs, and don't have a reliable source beyond the grocery store, so it's USDA-protocol washed / refrigerated eggs for us, again, alas. We don't store any type of fruit in our fridge beyond berries, which would otherwise rapidly succumb to heat and/or fruit flies.
...

Our huge, expensive, luxurious American fridge and freezer is constantly packed full with a variety of things like fresh berries, eggs, produce by the metric shitload, cheese, fish, homemade yogurt, charcuterie, pre-packaged homemade lunches (I made a huge batch of rice-free dolmas on Sunday that's this week's current selection) and things like a giant casserole full of crustless quiche or a stockpot full of chicken soup, etc... We rarely let anything go to waste and we almost never eat out, or out of a box.


Okay, well...I just don't even know, then. So, you have the biggest fridge money can buy, for two adults, and you don't refrigerate any fruit except berries, and you don't have a ton of beverages in there? Yet it's full? How the heck do you eat all this home-cooked food and fresh vegetables and deli products before it rots??

It's not a matter of being able to afford some luxurious lifestyle; as I said before, people here do not have fridges that big because they don't want them, because they would be half empty. Nobody is yearning for a behemoth fridge. I currently live alone, but when I lived with my ex-boyfriend and zero kids, we had a fridge smaller than my current 420-litre one. And he was a semi-pro athlete and ate a ton, and we rarely ate anything but home-cooked food, and we packed our work lunches. But...there's still only so much food that 2 people can plough through in a week.

As I said before, I guess it'll remain a mystery.
posted by Salamander at 9:48 PM on October 8, 2013


We just kept produce out on the counter or in a hanging basket or out in the shed, where it was colder.

How long would it last?


I would love to keep things out but it spoils too fast (in the midwest US what local produce we have is only available fresh for a few months and farmers markets are more than double supermarket prices). Living alone, I can't finish most US portions before they go bad. Two thirds of a loaf of bread gets frozen and I'm lucky if I can find a single portion-size milk for my tea instead of a half gallon, which I'll never finish in time. Refrigerating and freezing is a way for me to be less wasteful. My fridge is usually more than half empty and is mostly used to store leftovers, eggs, and beer but it comes with the apartment.

Having lived in the UK and struggled with fridge size/shopping culture I find this post really amusing. My mom's most vibrant impression of London when she visited me wasn't any tourist site—it was how many small and single serving portions the supermarkets sold. Then again, we grew up with two full-size fridges, a chest deep freezer and a small beer fridge.

Also, what do you do about bugs, and mice, and rats? If I leave tomatoes from my own garden out on my counter for one summer day they're covered in fruit flies. After horrible mice problems at multiple apartments I did a very un-American thing and bought a bread box. They even ate the flour I had in my pantry so that goes in the fridge too. I would put it in the cupboard but there's no space because that's where I store my mustard.
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:33 AM on October 9, 2013


If I leave tomatoes from my own garden out on my counter for one summer day they're covered in fruit flies.

Or tomato vampires.

Well, it turned out to just be Danny the Cat. And it turned out to be so damn cute we ended up giving him him his own tomatoes to suck the guts out of. But it was a pretty wild mystery while it lasted.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:37 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


6 pairs of skis for 2 people?

If you ski and live somewhere where it's easy to ski a lot, this makes total sense to me. But then, my freshman year roommate in college was on the ski team and I had to get over being surprised at how many skis just one person could have pretty quick!
posted by rtha at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2013


Or tomato vampires.

BUNNICULA
posted by elizardbits at 11:49 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would put it in the cupboard but there's no space because that's where I store my mustard.

I read this as "that's where I store my husband" and I thought your life was way more interesting than it probably is.

There's something else that just struck me about people talking about how they can't leave stuff out of the fridge because of bugs - you guys don't put things in sealed containers? Like, I wouldn't just leave a loaf of bread, a block of butter, or a packet of flour sitting open in the pantry or on the bench either. They all go into closed tupperware containers or similar. (Ok, knock-off tupperware because that shit's expensive). Flour, lentils, rice, pasta all goes into screw top glass containers, otherwise the weevils will get it. Tomatoes live in a plastic bin with a lid because yeah, fruit flies.

Occasionally we get lazy about this sort of thing and then we are at risk of mice/bugs/ants, and then we do a pantry purge and re-evaluate our storage containers. Usually it meant that we had an box of crackers or something that we hadn't put in the biscuit tin (uh, "cookie jar" to you lot, I guess) and something had chewed through the cardboard.

Is this just not a thing in the USA? Are the only options seen as refrigeration or storage in the original packaging?
posted by lollusc at 7:24 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


then we are at risk of mice/bugs/ants

One of the odd things about moving from Australia to the UK was realising what a non-issue bugs and ants are (although mice can still be a problem). Australia has a wide variety of ant species of all sizes, of course, but in Scotland I could just about count the number of ants I've seen in the past 12 years on one hand. Not the number of times I've seen ants - the number of ants.

Here in Britain we've got used to just leaving flour in the paper bags it comes in, leaving tomatoes in open bowls on the counter, leaving "keep refrigerated" condiments in the cupboard - even if you leave butter out of the fridge it'll only end up over-soft about three days of the year.
posted by rory at 4:33 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this just not a thing in the USA? Are the only options seen as refrigeration or storage in the original packaging?
Not in my experience, by a longshot. I have tons of things in sealed containers residing in my cabinets or on shelves - flour, sugar, popcorn, other staples (including a big jar of something unidentifiable). It sometimes depends if it's an item that I bought in bulk and therefore in a flimsy plastic bag. These things often get decanted into another container. I think it's pretty common to remove some things from original packaging. Whole grain flour is kept in my freezer since I don't use it very often and it gets rancid quickly otherwise.

But my fruit is all on the counter, with a small dish of apple cider vinegar next to it to catch the fruit flies. This works surprisingly well. Stuff does sometimes get moldy before we get a chance to eat it but it just gets composted if that happens.

I was over at my mom's recently and noticed that she had lots of stuff in her refrigerator that I would never have considered keeping there, including red wine vinegar (why???).

I also have a bunch of old Super 8 film in my fridge.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:00 AM on October 10, 2013


We also have large fridges in Canada.

So, I don't know, stick that up your America Is Special! (the bad kind of special) and smoke it, or something.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:43 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


(That said, I have always kind of wanted a little SMEG. For the Red Dwarf/dick cheese jokes, naturally. Also because they look kinda cool, I guess. But AFAIK there's only one place in all of Canada that sells them and they are expensive, especially per cubic foot.)

(Also, I've noticed there is, oddly, a SMEG in the background of the American Baking Competition -- the generic title of which I might forgive if the show aired on ABC and not CBS -- which led me to believe that they might shoot it in England on the exact same set as the BBC version and just swap out all the little flags, but while the BBC version does also seem to contain SMEG fridges, they're different, smaller SMEG fridges, and they don't say SMEG across the front, maybe because broadcasting regulations?)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:48 PM on October 10, 2013


SMEG UK. It says SMEG, like the US ones. The US ones have a capacity of 9.22 cubic litres or 261L; the UK ones have a capacity of 341L so are actually larger. If they are not branded, that opens up the possibility that what you are seeing are faux-SMEG, since they have been heavily stylistically duplicated.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:11 PM on October 10, 2013


If they are not branded, that opens up the possibility that what you are seeing are faux-SMEG, since they have been heavily stylistically duplicated.

It's a BBC show, and the BBC routinely removes prominent traces of branding from its TV shows, because as a government broadcaster they aren't allowed to promote one brand over another. I guess the direct discussion of brands on something like Top Gear is excepted, but The Great British Bake-off has no justification for promoting one fridge brand over another - so they must have hidden it.
posted by rory at 5:14 AM on October 11, 2013


caution live frogs: "My wife refrigerates bread. I gave up on trying to change this behavior about 15 years ago. Even now that we have the counter space for a breadbox."

I kinda feel like, unless you're living in a very cold or very dry climate, a breadbox is pretty much nothing more than a mold incubator.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:28 PM on October 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't stand the texture of refrigerated bread. I'd probably save money by buying BOGO loaves, but it's one of those things where I figure as long as I can afford it it's worth it to me to buy one new loaf every week.

I grew up eating bread that we'd bought cheap at the Millbrook outlet store and kept in the chest freezer as a supplement to Mom's homemade, and although it was OK for packed school lunches I never really developed a taste for it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:25 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


My bread is either fresh or frozen. Refrigerated bread is nasty. The fresh stuff only lasts for a day before it becomes nasty too. Frozen bread is only okay if frozen immediately and without air pockets.

I like big fridge and I cannot lie.
posted by h00py at 7:56 AM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


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