The electric blender, as we know it today, was invented in 1919 by Stephen Poplawski, owner of Stevens Electric Company. By 1922, after continuing to refine his invention, Poplawski patented the blender and began selling it through his company, the Stevens Electric Company, as a “drink mixer”. This device was sold primarily to drugstore soda fountains to make milkshakes and malts. The Stevens Electric Company was bought by Oster Manufacturing in 1946 and Oster was purchased by Sunbeam products in 1960. Sunbeam Products is still in existence today, so you can still buy a direct descendant of the original blender!
A few years after Poplawski’s blender was introduced, in 1935, Fred Osius (who was also involved in founding the Hamilton Beach Company) developed his own blender and with funding from Fred Waring. A few years later the “Miracle Mixer” was produced and sold by Waring Products for household use. This appliance was known as the Waring Blendor (not blender). As an interesting side note, Fred Waring was a popular musician, band leader and radio-television personality at the time. Waring Products is now owned by Conair, but their line of blenders is still known as “Waring Blenders”.
The Vitamix Company released a competing blender (with the more standard spelling) in 1937. Unlike most of the earlier blenders, which used a Pyrex glass jar, the Vitamix blender used a stainless steel jar. In the late 1940s the Vitamix line became very popular due to television advertising and the Vitamix blender was featured in the very first 30 minute infomercial in Cleveland. By the 1950s the electric blender had become a common kitchen appliance, along with toasters and coffee percolators.
In the 1960s, Vita-Mix released a line of powerful blenders that in addition to grinding, mixing and blending, could make ice cream, cook soup and make juice. This made blenders significantly more versatile and increased their popularity even more.
The traditional blender is still a standard fixture in many kitchens, but there are many new modern variations. Some are minor and more in name than function, such as “Smoothie” blender or “Margarita” blender (a standard blender can do these just as well). Other types of blenders, such as immersion blenders, have a completely different design. Immersion blenders are handheld mixers with a small blender blade on the bottom and instead of pouring the materials you want to mix in a blender jar, you just put the immersion mixer in the substance you want mixed.