1956 commercial shows that refrigerators back then were more advanced than they are today
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In the 1950s, the peak of modernity in America was seen in its technological advancements. From all those advancements, a particular television commercial, made in 1956, gives us a surprising insight: refrigerators back then were way more advanced than they are today. Let us take a look at these astonishing advancements and explore how the technology has evolved over the decades.
1956 commercial shows that refrigerators back then were more advanced than they are today

Table of Contents

1. From Invention to Luxury: Refrigeration in 1956

In 1956, refrigeration technology was something to marvel at – a new invention that began to revolutionize our ability to store food and drink. The sheer convenience and luxuriousness of having a refrigerator in the home was enough to make many families scramble to get their hands on one.

  • Mechanisms: The concepts of cooling and insulation were fairly rudimentary back in 1956. Refrigerators would usually include a compressor that operated on its own motor, condensing refrigerant gas and recirculating the cooling gases in the insulated walls of the fridge. Simplicity was key, so the buttons and dials necessary to execute the cooling process were kept to a minimum.
  • Design: Heavy, boxy and unwieldy, the refrigerators of 1956 boasted a classic retro design that embodied the simplicity of the period. The glossy paint, quirky handles and simplistic white design showcased a rugged functionality and effortless charm.
  • Luxury: Having a refrigerator in the home was a sign of luxury and status. This kind of technology allowed people to store their food for longer periods and buy in bulk, significantly increasing efficiency and convenience. Coupled with the beautiful, stylish designs, refrigerators quickly became a status symbol among many households.

Preserving food with greater efficiency was made possible with the invention of refrigeration technology, and by 1956 it had become a luxurious and indispensable part of our lives. Although the technology may have changed and become more advanced over time, the basic principles from 1956 remain the same. From a simple invention to a symbol of luxury, refrigerators are here to stay.
1. From Invention to Luxury: Refrigeration in 1956

2. Why ’50s Refrigerators Were Ahead of the Curve

Back in the 50s, when refrigerators were just making their entrance into the home, they were surprisingly ahead of the curve. Developed and released to the public by the early 1950s, these modern appliances offered a great range of features.

    Features included:

  • A top-mounted freezer. This was significantly more convenient than the separate iceboxes of the past.
  • – Adjustable shelves in both the refrigerator and the freezer. This allowed for much more efficient storage of products and better food management.
  • Humidity controls in the vegetable crispers. Now, fruits and vegetables could stay fresher for longer.

The biggest advancement of the era, however, was the newly designed compressor. This new creation allowed the refrigerator to actually get cooler than the outside environment, instead of just acting as a box for insulation.

These refrigerators were revolutionary in many ways. Not only did they provide convenience to the home, but they liberated the homemaker from constant trips to the market. With the advent of the modern refrigerator, food could now last much longer. 50s-era refrigerators were well ahead of their time in design and efficiency.

3. How Today’s Refrigerators Fall Behind

    1. Inadequate Space

Today’s refrigerators are outdated in one of the most basic ways – space. With ever-growing households, it is becoming increasingly difficult to fit all the needs of one into a small fridge or even a large one. Most of the time, there are not enough shelves or drawers in a typical household refrigerator to fit all of the necessary groceries for a family.

    2. Limited Controls

Today’s refrigerators come with limited controls or information about temperature settings that can be provided. Temperature settings to suit different types of groceries or beverages may not be something that current-day refrigerators are able to provide. As a result, it can be hard to ensure that everything stored inside the refrigerator remains at the right temperature, leading to premature food spoilage.

    3. Poor Energy Ratings

Another thing that makes modern refrigerators fall behind is their poor energy efficiency ratings. Older refrigerators use more energy than modern models, often leading to much higher electricity bills and even environmental waste. Most manufacturers have yet to design refrigerators with long-term energy saving features. The result is increased electricity bills and more environmental damage.

4. Uncovering the Hidden Innovations of 1956 Refrigerators

The advances in refrigerator technology during the mid-1950s might surprise many. Here are some of the innovative features that graced refrigerators of the era.

  • Manual Defrost – Many of the brands, such as Frigidaire, offered manual defrost refrigerators. This allowed consumers to easily and quickly defrost their fridge with just a few simple tools.
  • Adaptive Thermostat – This cutting-edge technology could sense and adjust the temperature to reduce energy waste and ensure maximum cooling efficiency.
  • Recessed Handles – The modernized look of recessed refrigerator door handles was something that many manufacturers incorporated into their designs.

Moreover, 1956 refrigerators stood apart from earlier designs due to their sleek and stylish exteriors. Many models featured chrome finished doors and stainless steel accents, giving the refrigerator a sophisticated look. For this reason, many mid-century kitchens remain as attractive today as they were back then.


Q: What were some of the features of the 1956 refrigerator?

A: The 1956 Imperial Refrigerator featured sleek, modern aesthetics, and boasted advanced features such as removable shelves, adjustable temperature settings, a separate freezing compartment, a defrosting system, and even a music box for entertaining.

Q: How does that compare to the fridge of today?

A: Modern fridges are certainly more accessible and affordable today, but in terms of features, they don’t quite measure up to those seen in the 1956 model – most lack removable shelves, adjustable temperature settings, and a defrosting system.

Q: Are there any other advantages that the Imperial Refrigerator had over today’s models?

A: Yes! The Imperial Refrigerator also included built-in shelves, interior lights, and even an icemaker – features rarely seen in today’s standard refrigerators.


In conclusion, the ‘56 refrigerator commercial from the 1950s shows us that appliances were quite advanced, even then. Although modern refrigerators come with a few added features, they are still far behind the level of innovation related to the classic fridge shown in the commercial. Truly a reminder that the past can still have relevance in today’s world!

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