My Australian-made “Deluxe automatic Sunbeam Mixmaster mixer” dates from 1974. It was a wedding gift – without doubt one of the most useful and enduring gifts my husband Tony and I received all those years ago.
I purchased the mixmaster using part of the $100 my grandfather in Melbourne sent us (he was not well enough to travel to Rockhampton for our wedding). It cost $69.99.
In 1974 $100 was a lot of money – equivalent to about $920 today. So, at $69.99, my 1970s Sunbeam Mixmaster would cost around $643 today.
Interestingly, we used part of the balance of the $100 to purchase a Breville Milkshake Maker. The appliance came with three large plastic cups, each one a different colour (brown, beige, orange – colours of the 1970s). Unlike the mixmaster, the milkshake maker didn’t last 48 years. I recall it left our service after about 20 years.
In 1974, like me (newly married and setting up home for the first time), my Sunbeam Mixmaster was brand new, gleaming and keen to get to work. Everything functioned perfectly. My mixmaster and I (together) were ready and able to tackle any culinary project put to us. And did we live up to our expectations? Most certainly we did.
According to the manufacturer, the motor in my 1970s MX24561 Sunbeam Mixmaster was more powerful than that of Sunbeam’s earlier Australian-made models. It was also lighter in weight and easier to handle.
According to the Australian Food Timeline, the first Australian-made Sunbeam mixer, an American-designed product, came onto the Australian market in 1948. Like its earlier American iterations, the first dating from 1930, this mixer was unique in having two interlocking, detachable beaters and a revolving bowl.
The American-owned Sunbeam company produced its second model for the Australian market in 1950. This new model boasted automatic bowl-speed control as well as beater-speed control.
I remember my Auntie Dulcie having an electric mixer in the late 1950s and early 1960s (read Auntie Dulcie and the Bung-in Cake). Hers was one of these early model Sunbeam mixers.
By the 1970s, the Sunbeam company had perfected its product to the extent that the Sunbeam Mixmaster had become the most popular mixmaster on the Australian market.
My 1970s model was described as a “Kitchen Woodtone Mixmaster Mixer” and “the latest in modern kitchen appliances”. With its brown “woodtone” stand, handle and speed dial, it was designed to complement the typical 1970s woodtone kitchen.
My Sunbeam Mixmaster came with two bowls – one large, one small – made from heat resistant glass. They were shaped to match the beaters and had an inbuilt rim on the base which held them firmly on the bowl disc. There was a bowl shift lever at the left side of the base, clearly marked “LARGE BOWL” and “SMALL BOWL”. For correct mixing, the lever had to be set to the correct position. To move the lever, one simply pressed it down and moved it in either direction.
The lightweight bakelite bowl disc was shaped to fit the rim on the base of the bowls. The bowl disc was secured by inserting the spindle on its underside into the socket in the centre of the appliance stand.
Among the Sunbeam Mixmaster’s other features were its bowl-fit beaters, beater ejector, convenient tilt motor, portable motor (the motor and attached beaters can be used as a hand held appliance) and its wide speed range (0 – 12).
I still have the instruction and recipe book that came with my Sunbeam Mixmaster. Just like the mixmaster, it’s been an indispensable helpmate for more than 48 years. I consulted it often. You can tell how much it’s been used from its grease-spotted, yellowed and finger-marked pages.
During the 48+ years my Sunbeam Mixmaster and I laboured together, we produced hundreds, even thousands, of cakes, biscuits and desserts. I’ve calculated that, if I made one cake, batch of biscuits or dessert each week for 48 years, the number would be 2496!
I often wonder how many times my mixmaster and I prepared the Bung-in Cake. Without doubt, it’s the cake I’ve made most often over the years. The recipe is so simple and versatile. Since 1974, I’ve used the Bung-in Cake recipe to make birthday cakes, patty cakes, lamingtons, pineapple upside-down cakes and apple tea cakes (to name a few).
Whenever I make the Bung-in Cake, I think of my late Auntie Dulcie and thank God for her. Little did she imagine when she gave me her recipe for the Bung-in Cake, just how often I would use it (read Auntie Dulcie and the Bung-in Cake).
Another cake I’ve made often in conjunction with my mixmaster is the Banana Yoghurt Cake (November 9, 2016). Like the Bung-in Cake, it’s super-easy to prepare. You put all the ingredients into the mixer bowl, blend thoroughly then beat at moderate to high speed for about 3 minutes. After that, all you have to do is pour the mixture into a prepared tin and bake.
Over the years, my mixmaster and I have produced a number of specialty biscuits that require whipped egg whites or meringue (whipped egg whites and blended sugar). Examples are Brotlaibchen, Zimtsterne (“Cinnamon Stars”) and Almond Bread (Biscotti). These three biscuit exemplars are Christmas treats, which I make in bulk in December each year to give as Christmas gifts to friends and family members. You’ll find the recipes for all three on my blog (click on the links).
And how can I forget the many delicious desserts my mixmaster has helped me produce? They include pavlovas, cheesecakes, chocolate mousse, self-saucing puddings and various tarts or pies with a meringue topping. The best example of the latter is the subject of my daughter’s beautiful story Grandma’s Easy Lemon Meringue Pie (June 14, 2017) and accompanying recipe.
Today, my long-serving Sunbeam Mixmaster is not what it used to be. The end of the motor console has come apart (I’ve held it together with sticky tape for a number of years!). The motor leans forward, like a stooped old person. The beaters are bent beyond repair and no longer work in harmony. At high speeds, the whole apparatus rattles and shakes and makes an awful racket. Sadly, my faithful kitchen helpmate no longer functions as it once did.
In December last year, my daughter encouraged me to buy a new mixmaster. I reluctantly agreed. As their Christmas gift, she and her husband gave me money towards the purchase. I made up the balance. Allowing for inflation, I paid about the same amount for my new mixmaster ($595) as I paid for my Sunbeam Mixmaster in 1974 ($643). I bought the new appliance (a KitchenAid) on sale at a much-reduced price – it normally costs $795.
To date, I’ve used my grand, glossy white KitchenAid “Classic” a couple of times. It works well. But so it should. It’s brand new.