Can You Identify These Household Appliances From a Single Sentence?

Torrance Grey

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Here's a fun fact you might not have known about appliances: they rendered household servants largely unnecessary! In the 19th century and earlier, servants weren't just for the rich. Most middle-class households had at least a cook, and often a housemaid as well. This was because laundry involved a lot more than putting soap in a machine and turning it on, and cooking more than sticking a pre-made pizza in the oven. Housework involved chopping wood, carrying coal, keeping fires burning, extensive food preparation from scratch, hand-washing of clothes and hanging them on a line to dry ... We get tired just thinking about it!

Things have changed! Now, keeping the house warm just means turning up the thermostat  -- or having your smartphone do it before you get home! But appliances aren't just labor-savers. Specialty devices, like pasta makers, juicers and espresso machines, make it possible to pursue special interests, from fitness (that wheatgrass juicer) to high cuisine (a home pasta maker) to wine (a special refrigerator that keeps it in the 40-55 degree range). 

There's truly a dazzling variety of household appliances out there. How many of them do you recognize, and how familiar are you with what they do? We've created a quiz so you can find out. We'll describe the appliance in one sentence, and you tell us what it is. Settle in with a glass of your own homemade mango-orange juice and test your savvy now!

I come in top-freezer, bottom-freezer and French-door styles.

Refrigerators use a lot of energy, especially since they're running 24/7. This is the reason environmentalists urge families to make do with one, and not keep an extra in the garage.

I use water so hot it sterilizes items inside.

Dishwashers are handy for larger households. Single people often find it more energy-efficient to wash dishes by hand and have a drying rack by the sink.

Tags on your clothing will tell you how to best use me.

In the age of "fast fashion," fewer and fewer people know this secret: Everything you need to know about making your clothes last and look great is on the tag, sometimes in pictorial symbols you need to decode. If you wash everything together with hot water, your clothes will fade and wear out faster!

Invented in 1946, the ________ didn't really become a household item until the 1980s.

The microwave oven goes back further than most people think. Once predicted to create a revolution in cooking, it's now mostly used to prepare convenience foods, as it doesn't get hot enough to produce the browning and crisping effects home cooks want.

In some households, I mostly work Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Ovens are great for doing turkeys, roasts and pies ... typical holiday foods. But the rest of the year, for indifferent cooks, the oven is largely something to keep the stove off the floor.

Without me, some people wouldn't get out of bed in the morning.

Okay, this one was probably easy! The coffeemaker is the workhorse of the 9-to-5'ers kitchen

These use a lot of water, but recent versions are more efficient.

Look for Energy Star certification if you're looking to conserve water and cut down on your bill. Another solution? Own more clothes! Sounds extravagant, but garments wear out when washed and dried frequently, so it evens out.

Don't let this run too long, or your clothes will wear out faster.

Heat drying is probably the toughest part of the laundry process on clothes. Some true style gurus use clothelines when possible, then a low-heat iron to get the wrinkles out.

These sometimes have a headlight on the front, as if people use them in the dark.

Technically, these were for spotting dirt or lint in dim places, like under beds and couches. Many modern vacuums don't have them anymore.

Some people mistakenly add the word "hot" to this appliance.

Yes, "hot water heater" is a fairly common term. But it's misleading -- this machine is simply heating room-temperature water.

Health nuts often have a ______ in the kitchen.

Juicers have a mixed reputation in health and fitness circles. While they allow users to pack in several servings of produce per drink, if the user peels fruits and vegetables first, they're missing a lot of of fiber. And juices can be very high in sugars per drink, depending on what they're made from.

You might find me in a college dorm room.

A mini-fridge is a nice creature comfort to have when you're living dormitory-style. Dining-hall food and takeout will only get you so far!

I'm a handy alternative to a clothes iron!

Hotels and fashion houses have had access to this long before the average Joe and Jane -- a handheld steamer that will get smaller wrinkles out of clothes. Serious wrinkling might require an actual iron.

Some of these use hot air instead of oil to save calories.

Hot-air popcorn poppers were big during the 1980s, when low-fat dieting was in. The Atkins and South Beach diets have taken a lot of the wind (or hot air) out of their sails.

Without these, we wouldn't have the margarita.

Of course, it's the blender. On a Friday or Saturday night, you'll hear them roaring all night in bars.

Be careful -- this kitchen appliance is responsible for some nasty burns.

Deep fryers can get oil up to 400 degrees, nearly twice that of boiling water, which is what makes them so dangerous. This often comes to a head on Thanksgiving, ever since millennials made deep-fried turkeys a new tradition. Safety equipment, like long barbecue gloves, are helpful.

No Yuppie condo was complete without me, and the trend never really dropped off.

A wine cooler is basically a mini-fridge, usually with a see-through door and racks of horizontal storage for all your Chardonnays, Sancerres, and so on. Don't set the temperature too low: White wines are best between 40 and 55 degrees, depending on the variety.

One of the nicest features of these is their automatic shut-off that prevents boiling dry.

Electric kettles are handy if you make instant soups and cocoa a lot. Not to mention tea, for the non-coffee-drinkers among us.

A/an ____________ is usually relegated to the garage because of its size.

Like a spare refrigerator, a storage or chest freezer (so named because it opens at the top, like a chest) uses a lot of electricity. Still, it's popular with hunters, large families, and those who shop in bulk.

Don't call me a Roomba! That's a brand name.

Roomba is the best-known type of robot vacuum, which circulates by itself. Usually with a cat on it, if YouTube is any indication.

A connoisseur might pay up to $2,500 for me.

It's hard to believe, but one Italian-made machine advertised at Best Buy costs $2,799. That would buy you one Mr. Coffee machine and about 200 cans of Folger's.

This is nice to have when you've got arthritis or other joint problems.

A lot of things get more difficult with arthritis, but struggling with a little manual can opener can be one of the worst. An electric can opener makes life a lot easier.

Believe it or not, this device is more recent than the microwave oven.

The immersion blender, a mini-blender that you can stick directly into pots and bowls, was invented in 1950. It's also called a "stick" or "wand" blender.

A _________ comes in handy in homes with messy kids and pets.

When just sweeping won't cut it, break out the steam mop. It works on hard floors -- wood, laminate, linoleum -- and some versions even promise to sterilize.

A ________ makes a pasta substitute from vegetables.

A spiralizer makes ribbons out of vegetables like zucchini, to replace noodles or pasta. Chalk this invention up to the low-carb craze.

A/an ________ allows a variation on stovetop cooking.

You can do an awful lot on a plain old stove. But electric rice cookers, woks and griddles are popular with people who need to free up stove space, or enjoy the extra control that an electric temperature dial offers.

No man cave is really complete without me.

Ah, draft beer. Because drinking beer from a can is *so* 1977!

Sunday brunch is the _________ time to shine.

If you said "kegerator," go to your room!

You might use me if you're an old-fashioned parent who makes Halloween costumes at home.

Though knitting is a popular recreational activity, sewing is becoming a lost art. Fortunately, most laundry/dry-cleaning shops have an alterations expert on staff.

You might rent this at a grocery or hardware store instead of owning one.

Most people only clean their carpets every few years. That's why grocery and hardware stores rent them out. Check at the customer service counter -- you'll probably see it listed along with "postage stamps," "refund," and "lottery tickets."

An Italian food lover might have this in the kitchen.

Low-carb dieting has been hard on Italian food lovers. But a true aficionado is likely to enjoy making ribbons of fresh pasta, while bread is slowly baking in the bread maker.

You'd find this in the kitchen of a serious baker.

Back in the day, bakers used handheld mxiers, sometimes called "eggbeaters." Way back, they were even manual, not electric! But now, a serious baker will have a stand mixer with several attachments, and lots of space to set the bowl underneath it.

This does the work of a steamer, a deep fryer, and a Dutch oven.

A multi-cooker has an inset basket for steaming or deep frying, but you can remove the basket to simply simmer foods. Recent versions often have a timer, and will shift to a "keep warm" setting when the food's done cooking. Nice!

Once upon a time, these required rock salt and lots of hand-cranking.

Making home ice-cream has gotten a lot easier these days. However, it's also a lot less necessary in the age of artisan gelatos that include flavors like marionberry and brown butter vanilla. It's relatively rare that you'll say, "I can't find that flavor in stores; guess I'll have to make my own!"

"Dustbuster" is a popular brand of _______.

Though many people have heard of the "Dustbuster," virtually all vacuum makers have a handheld or canister vacuum. Sometimes you can get a good deal if you buy both an upright and a handheld together.

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