Dorri Partain

Cooks were able to take their daily cooking tasks “out of the Space Age and into the Stone Age” when Rival Manufacturing introduced a small appliance named the Crock-Pot in 1971.

Rival was already well-known for the various kitchen appliances it manufactured right here in Kansas City, the Grind-O-Mat food grinder and the Can-O-Mat can opener. The company was founded in 1932 by Henry J. Talge and was located at 36th & Bennington Avenue when the Crock-Pot made its debut.

A year earlier, Rival had purchased a smaller appliance company, Naxion Utilities Corp., that offered a slow-cooking appliance named the Bean Pot that used a heating element that wrapped around a stoneware crock, providing continuous, even heating that required no supervision or constant stirring.

Company executives saw the potential and developed a whole range of recipes, not just beans, that could “cook all day while the cook’s away,” fitting with the trend of women leaving home daily, and new careers outside the home.

Attractively designed in fashion colors of avocado green and orange-red, the Crock-Pot was a staple on any kitchen counter and foods could be directly served from it, as well. It was also portable anywhere an electric outlet was available, and food could be prepared with minimal supervision.

In addition to the convenience, home economists touted that Crock-Pot cooking provided better nutrition and flavor, retaining vitamins and nutrients lost in other cooking methods, and economy, with electric usage only costing two cents a day.

To show the versatility of the Crock-Pot, a 24-page recipe booklet was included with each purchase: soups and stews, chickens and roasts, fondue and hot dips, even cakes and breads.

Rival was purchased by the Jarden Corporation in 2005 and offers a full range of products in the Crock-Pot Original Slow-Cooker line.The National Museum of American History inducted Crock-Pot Model 3100 into their collection in 2011.