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(The Atlantic)   Why do Americans have such large refrigerators?   (theatlantic.com) divider line 188
    More: Interesting, Americans, shelf lives, sustainable growth, Boston Scientific, refrigerators, family-owned  
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13315 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Oct 2013 at 3:25 PM (49 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



188 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-10-06 03:42:00 PM

Mrbogey: ...and go to bed shortly after the sun sets


At least for me in the summer, I will save tons of electricity if I go to bed around 1 or 2am, because it will be substantially cooler than "shortly after the sun sets" and I will thus have to run the A/C much less (or perhaps not at all) in order to get the bedroom to a temperature at which I can actually sleep.
 
2013-10-06 03:45:35 PM

Arkanaut: Because Obama is trying to give away as much as he can to the poors.


Aha, so that explains it.

cloudfront.mediamatters.org
 
2013-10-06 03:46:23 PM

jaylectricity: It's so we can spend less energy driving to the store less often.
Have larger containers of food to use less packaging.
Stores can move larger volumes of food at a time requiring only one large building instead of three smaller ones.


Zackly.  The author must not be deep enough to think it through.  Driving 15 miles to the nearest store and 15 back everyday is a waste of energy.  We live in a large country where things are a lot further apart than they are in Europe so to save energy we have lager refrigerators.
 
2013-10-06 03:46:48 PM

cryinoutloud: They go along with our shopping habits.

[www.kenrockwell.com image 600x399]


Why would anyone refrigerate fabric softener?
 
2013-10-06 03:48:50 PM

Mad Mark: Why do Americans have such large refrigerators?
Dead hooker storage.


Aaand we're done here.
 
2013-10-06 03:49:21 PM

Mrbogey: The big draws in a home are in order:

1. Air Conditioning
2. Water heating
3. Lighting
4. Refrigeration.
5. Electronics

Your best bets to use little energy are use on demand hot water(natural gas), keep your AC set to as high as you can tolerate in the summer and as low in the winter, and go to bed shortly after the sun sets. Refrigeration is being outpaced by electronics for electrical usage due to efficient designs of the newer fridges.


Fark that noise.  I'm not poor and I don't live in a 3rd world hellhole where I have to rely on a finicky and unreliable energy source.  I heat and cool my living space so that it's  comfortable, not tolerable.
 
2013-10-06 03:49:36 PM

7th Son of a 7th Son: cryinoutloud: They go along with our shopping habits.

[www.kenrockwell.com image 600x399]

Why would anyone refrigerate fabric softener?


Because Jesus.
 
2013-10-06 03:50:02 PM
I have a big fridge and the bottom part has hardly anything in it, and the freezer I keep full. What I need is a 10 cu. ft. fridge, half freezer, half cold storage. Over in Britain my friends have liddle-bitty fridges built under the counter. Seems to be all they need...
 
2013-10-06 03:51:13 PM
Now now, no need to be envious of our large refrigerators. Someday, you can afford one too.
 
2013-10-06 03:51:26 PM
To hold the food.
 
2013-10-06 03:51:31 PM
Odd article. I'm far from convinced that their information is correct. It's true that American fridges are larger than the equivalent in, say, the UK, but over there they tend to use chest freezers (which are far more efficient than those odd little things at the top of American fridges.

Rik01 was asking about voltage in Europe. It's 220 - 240V. The UK is slightly higher than mainland Europe. This is the normal supply voltage in the US, but it's split down when it comes into your house, into two 110-volt phases. Some appliances, like your range and clothes drier, use 220V directly. I've no idea why the US chose to drop the voltage for other appliances, but it makes for some really lousy electric kettles. Probably perceived as safer. Damn you, Edison!
 
2013-10-06 03:52:52 PM

jtown: Mrbogey: The big draws in a home are in order:

1. Air Conditioning
2. Water heating
3. Lighting
4. Refrigeration.
5. Electronics

Your best bets to use little energy are use on demand hot water(natural gas), keep your AC set to as high as you can tolerate in the summer and as low in the winter, and go to bed shortly after the sun sets. Refrigeration is being outpaced by electronics for electrical usage due to efficient designs of the newer fridges.

Fark that noise.  I'm not poor and I don't live in a 3rd world hellhole where I have to rely on a finicky and unreliable energy source.  I heat and cool my living space so that it's  comfortable, not tolerable.


You know, I just bought a Nest thermostat in Spring.  It's advanced features have saved 40% off my energy bills this year and I have not even once noticed an environmental difference.  It has already paid for itself easily.

Anyone who is environmentally conscious should check it out.
 
2013-10-06 03:52:57 PM
So why then would anyone want a weeks' worth of perishable food stored in their kitchen at one time?

because i don't live in a grocery store?


food in America is cheaper than anywhere else in the world.   when chicken breast went on sale for $0.99 a pound
last week, i bought a dozen packs at least, and they are now stuffed inside my freezer.
 
2013-10-06 03:53:21 PM
You know how in every TV thread there's that guy who says he doesn't have a TV?
*coughs*
I don't have a refrigerator or a freezer.
I don't eat out much and I don't spend hours cooking non-frozen non-ready meals. I eat fresh veg and pulses mainly, all of which I can keep unrefrigerated.
I don't eat dairy, don't take milk in my coffee and don't cook too much and freeze the leftovers.
I shop in bulk but top up with a piece of broccoli or whatever daily, from a dedicated fruit and veg store that's cheaper than the supermarket (not everything is cheaper in supermarkets, seems to me it's mainly the sugary stuff that's dirt cheap).
I'm really not trying to be a hipster douche, I just don't run a fridge any more. I used to be pretty damn wealthy and had the whole kitchen bigger than the house I was born in and fridge bigger than my old bedroom... but where I am in life now, with my freak flag ran up the pole again, I'm happy enough living like this thanks.
I doubt it'll catch on, fridges are very convenient. One thing though, in the past I regularly bought too much fresh and threw out stuff that I'd optimistically bought thinking I could use. I don't get waste anymore, there's no fridge to forget I put things in.
 
2013-10-06 03:55:09 PM

Marcus Aurelius: Why is everyone else's so puny?


Koreans also have huge fridges. Often more than one. I know some Koreans who have 4 fridges in a house of three people.
 
2013-10-06 03:57:25 PM

Tillmaster: Odd article. I'm far from convinced that their information is correct. It's true that American fridges are larger than the equivalent in, say, the UK, but over there they tend to use chest freezers (which are far more efficient than those odd little things at the top of American fridges.

Rik01 was asking about voltage in Europe. It's 220 - 240V. The UK is slightly higher than mainland Europe. This is the normal supply voltage in the US, but it's split down when it comes into your house, into two 110-volt phases. Some appliances, like your range and clothes drier, use 220V directly. I've no idea why the US chose to drop the voltage for other appliances, but it makes for some really lousy electric kettles. Probably perceived as safer. Damn you, Edison!


Try Westinghouse. Or Tesla. Edison tried to sell the world on D/C, and cranked up the panic derp on A/C with horrific stunts like electrocuting an elephant. On second thought, F*CK YOU, Edison.
 
2013-10-06 03:57:48 PM

Dow Jones and the Temple of Doom: We got rid of our refrigerator last year to make room for a wood-burning stove.

Honestly, when we buy meat and poultry we use it that day or donate it to the local halfway house. Anything else just seems... incredibly non-green.


some_beer_drinker: Riche: Because they're America's last ditch atomic blast shelters!

[whatculture.com image 504x250]


/The REAL question should be:  Why do Americans have such large asses?

winner


Because we eat a lot of crap.  Oddly enough, most crap food may not require refrigeration (unless you saving those half eaten pizzas and burgers) so having a large refrigerator does not equal having a large arse.  It only means you have a larger place to store perishables.

Our kitchens tend to be large, the abundance and economy of pre-prepped food- as well as our lack of "corner stores" in non-urban regions where stocking for several days is a must-- as well as the development of larger, more energy efficient compartments probably have more to do with our choice in freezer size as opposed to simply meeting the desire to horde fattening foods.
 
2013-10-06 03:58:23 PM
Tillmaster:

Rik01 was asking about voltage in Europe. It's 220 - 240V. The UK is slightly higher than mainland Europe. This is the normal supply voltage in the US, but it's split down when it comes into your house, into two 110-volt phases. Some appliances, like your range and clothes drier, use 220V directly. I've no idea why the US chose to drop the voltage for other appliances, but it makes for some really lousy electric kettles. Probably perceived as safer. Damn you, Edison!

probably because it means less current and so they are safer for the average dumb American.  electrocuting our fat asses
is frowned upon apparently
 
2013-10-06 03:59:08 PM
Because:

1-Cities had neighborhood stores where you could walk to the store and pick up food from the local market.  This still exists in some large cities.
2-Then companies that made cars started shutting down street cars in some cities.
3-Drive through fast food restaurants started popping up,people started moving to the suburbs.  The US became a car culture.
4-Mega stores started popping up in the late 90's, and closing down any supermarket that did not offer banking services, dry cleaners, ect within the grocery store.
5-Since people drive, and it is harder to pop in and out of supermarkets for the reasons above, it just makes more sense to do shopping once or twice a week.

To rephrase, between the car culture and the centralizing of corporations, it just makes more sense to have big fridges and do it the American way.  To anyone that has lived in large cities with good mass transit and lots of mom and pop stores, you will find your food purchasing habits may change.
 
2013-10-06 03:59:09 PM

Dow Jones and the Temple of Doom: We got rid of our refrigerator last year to make room for a wood-burning stove.

Honestly, when we buy meat and poultry we use it that day or donate it to the local halfway house. Anything else just seems... incredibly non-green.


And you don't even own a tv and your coworkers banal tv talk befuddles you?

Just guessing.
 
2013-10-06 04:02:21 PM

jsmilky: Tillmaster:

Rik01 was asking about voltage in Europe. It's 220 - 240V. The UK is slightly higher than mainland Europe. This is the normal supply voltage in the US, but it's split down when it comes into your house, into two 110-volt phases. Some appliances, like your range and clothes drier, use 220V directly. I've no idea why the US chose to drop the voltage for other appliances, but it makes for some really lousy electric kettles. Probably perceived as safer. Damn you, Edison!

probably because it means less current and so they are safer for the average dumb American.  electrocuting our fat asses
is frowned upon apparently


It means more current, actually, which is why the power cables on electric kettles warm up. Less voltage, though.
 
2013-10-06 04:02:22 PM
It's simple, people in many other countries spend a lot more time going out to get food (either to collect and bring back or eat out) compared to Americans.
 
2013-10-06 04:03:04 PM
because who cares
 
2013-10-06 04:04:18 PM

kg2095: Marcus Aurelius: Why is everyone else's so puny?

Koreans also have huge fridges. Often more than one. I know some Koreans who have 4 fridges in a house of three people.


Damn. That's a lot of dog.
 
2013-10-06 04:05:36 PM
I have a normal sized fridge because that's what came with the house (rental) but the space would accommodate one of those bigassed things. The fridge is fine, sometimes wish it was a little bigger, but that's so I could keep more beer cold.

My chest freezer is what needs to be bigger. I'd like to start buying quarter or sides of beef, and those 30lb bags of green chile in the fall. Even processed into quart bags that takes up a fair amount of space that I don't really have in the freezer most of the time.
 
2013-10-06 04:07:46 PM

RoyBatty: One of the benefits of living where I used to live in Berkeley, in an older neighborhood, with mixed development and housing was that it was a very simple, quick, and pleasurable thing to walk to a corner market (10th of a mile), or walk to a butcher or bakery or cheese shop (1/2 mile), or walk, even to a supermarket (1/2 mile) to pick up fresh food for dinner.

The place was built for walking, especially because it had mixed development.

Where I exist now the whole city was designed around cars. Stores, offices, boutiques are all clustered in megacenters with enormous parking lots.  The closest "grocery" store is a Target about 3/4 mile away. The closest supermarket is a mile away.  There are no independent bakeries or butchers etc. within 10 miles.

I'd like to move back to a place with a good walkability score.



I miss that, too.  There's a Kroger supermarket two blocks away, so we often walk there when we need a small number of items (e.g., just a gallon of milk).  Otherwise, we're stuck driving.
 
2013-10-06 04:09:09 PM

Dow Jones and the Temple of Doom: We got rid of our refrigerator last year to make room for a wood-burning stove.


why do you hate the environment and others?

http://ehhi.org/woodsmoke/health_effects.shtml
 
2013-10-06 04:12:06 PM

Tillmaster: Odd article. I'm far from convinced that their information is correct. It's true that American fridges are larger than the equivalent in, say, the UK, but over there they tend to use chest freezers (which are far more efficient than those odd little things at the top of American fridges.

Rik01 was asking about voltage in Europe. It's 220 - 240V. The UK is slightly higher than mainland Europe. This is the normal supply voltage in the US, but it's split down when it comes into your house, into two 110-volt phases. Some appliances, like your range and clothes drier, use 220V directly. I've no idea why the US chose to drop the voltage for other appliances, but it makes for some really lousy electric kettles. Probably perceived as safer. Damn you, Edison!


Edison was a real penis. He was the Steve Jobs of his era.
 
2013-10-06 04:12:09 PM

jsmilky: Tillmaster:

Rik01 was asking about voltage in Europe. It's 220 - 240V. The UK is slightly higher than mainland Europe. This is the normal supply voltage in the US, but it's split down when it comes into your house, into two 110-volt phases. Some appliances, like your range and clothes drier, use 220V directly. I've no idea why the US chose to drop the voltage for other appliances, but it makes for some really lousy electric kettles. Probably perceived as safer. Damn you, Edison!

probably because it means less current and so they are safer for the average dumb American.  electrocuting our fat asses
is frowned upon apparently


Unless the cops do it. Then it's okay.
 
2013-10-06 04:14:25 PM

YoOjo: I don't have a refrigerator or a freezer.
I don't eat out much and I don't spend hours cooking non-frozen non-ready meals. I eat fresh veg and pulses mainly, all of which I can keep unrefrigerated.
I don't eat dairy, don't take milk in my coffee and don't cook too much and freeze the leftovers.
I shop in bulk but top up with a piece of broccoli or whatever daily, from a dedicated fruit and veg store that's cheaper than the supermarket (not everything is cheaper in supermarkets, seems to me it's mainly the sugary stuff that's dirt cheap).
I'm really not trying to be a hipster douche, I just don't run a fridge any more. I used to be pretty damn wealthy and had the whole kitchen bigger than the house I was born in and fridge bigger than my old bedroom... but where I am in life now, with my freak flag ran up the pole again, I'm happy enough living like this thanks.


Although your post is long, I read it.

Through college, I had no refrigerator. In grad school I had a refrigerator but almost never used it. After grad school I lived in Germany and there refrigerators are pretty tiny and almost never used except for chilling wine and beer. Today, most of my refrigerator is used for salad dressing and yogurt. Neither require it.

Anyways, the short answer is: Americans are rather ignorant about healthy food.
 
2013-10-06 04:17:14 PM
The average refrigerator has a tremendous amount of wasted space.  They are simply too deep.  Behind all my stored food is a large amount of unused air space.  My prefect refrigerator would about 2/3 as deep.

All that "extra" space is filled with air that has to be chilled to maintain the internal temperature, and gets sucked out every time I open the door.
 
2013-10-06 04:18:54 PM
Article contains a lot of information about the history of refrigeration, very little about what it is about North American shopping and eating habits that results in our refrigerators being so large.

For the most part, European cities have been planned by a central authority for livability.  Want to cook dinner tonight?  There's plenty of stores you can stop in at on your walk from the public transportation center to your home and pick up one or two meals' worth of absolutely fresh food.

For the most part, American cities are not planned at all, except by developers trying to maximize their profit per acre on new construction sales.  Buying food means driving to a mega-market 5 miles away, and buying a week's worth of food in advance because otherwise it's not worth the time or cost.
 
2013-10-06 04:19:16 PM

Danger Avoid Death: kg2095: Marcus Aurelius: Why is everyone else's so puny?

Koreans also have huge fridges. Often more than one. I know some Koreans who have 4 fridges in a house of three people.

Damn. That's a lot of dog.


When I was over there my host offered to take me to a restaurant that served dog. I politely declined. I thought it was no longer legal.
 
2013-10-06 04:21:14 PM

Skyrmion: Arkanaut: Because Obama is trying to give away as much as he can to the poors.

Aha, so that explains it.

[cloudfront.mediamatters.org image 636x480]


That would be because all "poor" households are rented and most rentals include major appliances.  ie: fridge and range.  I grew up dirt poor and the only places we lived in that didn't already have a fridge were public housing or weren't hooked up for electricity in the first place.  As to the size of American refrigerators, it comes down to this.  We don't shop for food on a daily basis mostly it's weekly or bi-weekly and keeping anything fresh from spoiling requires refrigeration.  Thus, large fridge.
 
2013-10-06 04:21:50 PM
Delay:

Although your post is long, I read it.

My posts are always long, longerer words are betterer, and longerer posts are the bestest.
 
2013-10-06 04:22:26 PM
jsmilky: ... electrocuting our fat asses is frowned upon apparently

Texas disagrees.
 
2013-10-06 04:24:20 PM

buzzcut73: I have a normal sized fridge because that's what came with the house (rental) but the space would accommodate one of those bigassed things. The fridge is fine, sometimes wish it was a little bigger, but that's so I could keep more beer cold.

My chest freezer is what needs to be bigger. I'd like to start buying quarter or sides of beef, and those 30lb bags of green chile in the fall. Even processed into quart bags that takes up a fair amount of space that I don't really have in the freezer most of the time.


Only in New Mexico do we have separate freezers for green chile ;) :D

We have 2 fridges & a large chest freezer, all full, one of the fridges is for beer,soda & wine. We're 6 miles from the nearest grocery store, 25 miles from Costco. We do get snowed in sometimes, it's handy to stock up for those times.
 
2013-10-06 04:24:21 PM

vodka: It's simple, people in many other countries spend a lot more time going out to get food (either to collect and bring back or eat out) compared to Americans.


Yes, this is called "exercise."  It doesn't take place at the gym, but it's exercise nonetheless.
 
2013-10-06 04:26:12 PM

poot_rootbeer: For the most part, European cities have been planned by a central authority for livability.


Just a suggestion, on your next vacation take a trip to one European country. Great Britain for example. Nothing you posted is correct.
 
2013-10-06 04:28:34 PM
I don't know*, but imagine how much money you'd save by cleaning the refrigerator out and buryng Big Momma in it instead of buying a custom made piano crate!

*I do know, and I am about to prove it. Patience while I work through my list of jokes.

Why not? They're stainless steel nowadays. They're practically airproof. Just adfix a lock or three to the door and you're done--a $3,000 coffin everybody can afford.

Well, maybe Bubba Pappy's $100 Kelvinator from the front porch.

But seriously, folks. Americans have enormous refrigerators for the followng obvious reasons.

1. Electricity is relatively cheap, even a 10 or 15 cents a kilowatt hour.
2. Food is subsidized (at least the stuff you're not supposed to eat) and thus also cheap.
3. Americans consume more meat than most people, except Argentinians and Australians, who eat a heck of a lot of meat.
4. Americans consume more dairy than most countries, except, oddly enough, China, where 25% of the people are lactose-intolerant but the massive populaton means the other 75% eat a heck of a lot of milk product.
5. Americans invented the refrigerator.
6. Except maybe for Canadians, Americans can fill a refrigerator with frozen food faster than anybody on Earth. Canadians helped invent frozen food (the McCains) but Americans (Birdseye) invented that as well. And then both nations ran away with the idea of cold storage.
7. Cold storage is big historically. Because of the three-way Atlantic trade and especially the North-South leg between Newfoundland and Canada on one end and the Caribbean, South America, Mexico, and the American South on the other, there were a lot of ships plying those routes. They could carry dried fish, lumber, ice and other commodites on the South-bound trip and carry sugar, rum, and tobacco on the Northbound trip. This meant a great head-start on selling refrigerators when they were invented by the very people who bought them.
8. In addition to economic and social reasons, Americans famously drink their beer cold and their water iced to within a inch of freezing. Refrigetors are both the cause and the effect of this custom. The water our early settlers drank often came from fresh flowing streams or wells and was thus colder than the air. We got used to doing it that way and still do.
9. Also, water was plentiful and ice cheap, so restaurants encouraged us in expecting a giant glass of cold water on demand.
10. In short, America is a perfect storm of refrigeration. Next week: Why do North Americans use so much power for heating and AC, often at the same time?
 
2013-10-06 04:29:29 PM
Started shopping last week for a new fridge... so relevant to my interests.

The stores I was looking in all had the giant American super sized fridges, (I'm in Israel)
I'd tell the guys "I just need something to keep my food cold, nothing fancy".
Didn't think of a small one, don't think it would work, I cook a lot so often have lots of left overs.

On other things, I have two supermarkets on my way home from work depending which way I bike.
Three 'corner markets' within a block of my place.
And the Jerusalem outdoor market is within walking distance. I generally do my shopping there on Fridays ahead of the Sabbath and try to stock up on stuff for the week. Since I work from home a few days a week, lately once or twice a week I'll ride out there for lunch, do some 'pick up' shopping and head home the long way for a bike ride.
 
2013-10-06 04:29:49 PM
because we want our beer and bacon to be cold. and we like our beer and bacon.
 
2013-10-06 04:30:07 PM
Because it makes their asses look smaller.

/next...
 
2013-10-06 04:30:39 PM
Location. Location. Location.

When I lived in NYC my apartment was two blocks from a Westside Market and Garden of Eden, which I walked past on my way home. I cooked most of my dinners, buying what I needed each night. If I was ever out of an ingredient, it took me 10 minutes to go out, buy it, and return home. All I ever had in my refrigerator was beer, yogurt and butter.

I'm currently living in the suburbs where I have to drive to a supermarket for food, so I just load up once a week. The junior sized refrigerator I had in NYC would be too small.
 
2013-10-06 04:31:11 PM

YoOjo: Delay:

Although your post is long, I read it.

My posts are always long, longerer words are betterer, and longerer posts are the bestest.


Yep, so be it. Since this thread is about why Americans waste energy on large refrigerators can you tell the Farkers what you do that skips all that. I'll follow. Thousands of kilowatts could be saved.
 
2013-10-06 04:31:41 PM
Danger Avoid Death
kg2095: Marcus Aurelius: Why is everyone else's so puny?
Koreans also have huge fridges. Often more than one. I know some Koreans who have 4 fridges in a house of three people.
Damn. That's a lot of dog.


That may be to avoid something called 'gimchi migration'.

vodka,
It's simple, people in many other countries spend a lot more time going out to get food (either to collect and bring back or eat out) compared to Americans.


Or maybe use mass transit and stop at a local mom and pop store on their way back home.
 
2013-10-06 04:31:50 PM
Those top-bottom two door models would make great caskets if you could cut out the bit in the middle.

Or maybe chop Mammy in half when you bury her. Just a thought.
 
2013-10-06 04:33:14 PM
Never really thought about the size of our icebox, but it's probably about 16 - which I suggest is 'medium' sized.  We really do get huge ones - my mom lives alone and eats dinner with us every day yet has two refrigerators full of food she can't possibly eat!

Wife and I currently live small, we have 800 sf of living space, the kitchen is limited in size, storage minimal and our walkability score out here, 10 miles from town is...surprise...Zero.  This coming from our prior residence with a walkability score of like 95 [hard to remember, it was near the top - we had three supermarkets in walking distance].  But, as we go to town a lot anyway, shopping every couple or three days is not a burden on us.

Now, as to a few other posters:  heck, I live without a TV, but without a refrigerator?  Not while I have AC power thanks.  Goodness, how about a cold beverage?  Small, sure - I can agree that a lot of us could use space more efficiently but none?  Thanks.  I like condiments that don't take me hostage.
 
2013-10-06 04:34:30 PM
I don't know what this article is referring to. I can barely squeeze a ham sandwich there among all the body parts.
 
2013-10-06 04:38:07 PM
To store the speaker of the house should he accidentally stumble up to your front door in the night?
 
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