Most iceboxes looked like plain wooden cabinets in the early 1900s. Without electric refrigeration, they were fitted inside with a space for ice, which had to be topped up regularly to keep food cool and fresh.
Keeping the butter hard, the milk and cream sweet, and the meat from spoiling, is a part of the housewife’s trouble in the summer time.
White Frost ad from Carter’s Hardware, Sonora CA, 1913
The White Frost Refrigerator was the only cylinder-shaped icebox. A block of ice sat in a compartment under the lid and chilled air was vented into the food storage space below. The makers said their distinctive model was:
- More hygienic – easy-clean curved enamelled steel, food always in perfect condition
- More scientific – better design, better insulated, economical with ice, revolving shelves
- Desirable yet affordable – stylish, special, above-average price payable in installments
Excerpts from their ads show what White Frost Refrigerator Co. and their dealers thought buyers wanted. (To read about the manufacturer, designer, patent etc. please scroll down the page.)
…rolled steel, galvanized and beautifully enameled…nothing to swell, warp or shrink…no corners to dig out, no shelter for germs…absolutely wholesome…circulation of air so scientifically directed…there can be no moisture from the ice in the food chamber
Weis & Fisher ad, Rochester NY, 1905
…only sanitary refrigerator on the market, not a splinter of wood, no waste of ice, clean and odorless
Cahn’s ad, Youngstown OH, 1908
…sparkling, cleanly white…harmonizes so well with the modern white kitchens
Trice-O’Neal Furniture Store ad, Florida, 1925
Of course the advertisers wanted to appeal to women, but they also needed to persuade men. An ad in Popular Mechanics showed “Bob” and his wife in icebox-inspired closeness.
- 47in high
- 27in diameter
- Holding up to 110lb. ice
- Double walls insulated with asbestos or aerofelt, and maltha (asphalt) with “dead air space”, later models with granulated cork
- 3 coats of white enamel inside
- Exterior white with nickel or brass trim, or golden oak finish
- Easy to move, on wheels
- White Frost Sanitary Refrigerator an alternative name
- “Crystal” water cooler attachment allowing for an extra shelf – from 1919
Manufacturers and inventor
The first White Frosts were made in Jackson, Michigan even before a full patent was granted in 1906. The president of the company making them was Hugh L. Smith, a hardware entrepreneur and director of at least 2 other businesses. He also bought the Boeck Stove Company.
Charles H. Boeck patented various stove designs and other inventions too. His 1906 refrigerator patent describes him as assignor to the Jackson Metal Stamping Co. In the next few years he patented some improvements to the icebox. His 1919 patent for the water cooler attachment used a different company name: White Frost Refrigerator Co. White Frosts were sold through dealers in many different states, and were also available by mail order from Mechanic Street in Jackson. The price in its first few years was about $30, with a $20 end-of-summer bargain in Paterson NJ. By 1924 a store in Painesville OH was selling one at $74, reduced from over $90.