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Cold goes south. The emergence of refrigeration technologies in the European South. The case of Greece (late 19th-20th centuries)

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Seeing is believing for Greek cooks

Worldwide, eating habits changed once the refrigerator was invented. Even though mass-marketed in the 1950s, Greek housewives took some convincing before incorporating these electrical appliances into their kitchens.

Industrial Technologies

The EU-funded project COLDGR has produced a retrospective account of mechanical refrigeration in Greece. It recounts the development of the cold chain in Greece between the 1920s and the 2000s, placing industrial and domestic refrigeration in context. Emphasis was placed on the frozen fish industry and the refrigeration of agricultural products. Project members paid special attention to the period between 1950 and1970. This period was characterised by the development of the cold chain and the gradual diffusion of domestic electric refrigerators in the Greek urban household. Financial journals and technical reports provided the background for much of the research on the Greek cold chain with Greece’s integration into the EEC in the late 1960s. And period material from newspapers, magazines, cookbooks and books on nutrition provided prudent advice for consumers shaping the era’s outlook on refrigeration. Mechanical refrigeration in Greece came with the country's industrialisation throughout the 20th century and the development of infrastructures, such as road and railway networks. New jobs were created, giving rise to technicians and their associations devoted to the maintenance and service of refrigerating machines. Additional jobs created were for salesmen and demonstrators of domestic appliances promoting their usage. The sage Home Economist of the era informed and advised the consumer on everyday aspects of living including food and nutrition. Changing the role of the housewife forever, electrical appliances were not an easy transition for everyone. Home economists were hired to convince the Greek housewife of the superiority of electrical appliances over gas-based ones. Demonstrations on using the appliances were sponsored by manufacturers. Going house-to-house, home economists (other women) supported salesmen spreading the good news of electrical appliances to Greek housewives.

Keywords

Refrigerator, electrical appliance, mechanical refrigeration, cold chain, Greek urban household, industrialisation, domestic appliance

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2 October 2020