Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Poor Susan's Got a Bad Rep!

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Lazy Susans today
Sometimes I wonder about the strangest things.  For instance, where did the Lazy Susan come from?  A bit of research has shown that this handy device was first used in the 1700's.  There is no official record of who first invented it, but there is a popular belief that Thomas Jefferson may have been the brains behind it.

Before 1917, the Lazy Susan was called a Dumbwaiter.  Now there is another funny name for a useful device, rarely used now.  Why was it called a Susan?  Why not Mary or what about Betty?  The old brown teapot is called a Brown Betty.  Wow, there is no end to the funny names, is there?  Back in the 18th century, servants were called Susans.  To use this device meant that a maid wasn't doing her duty, therefore it was called a 'Lazy Susan'.

Thomas Jefferson
Susan B. Anthony

 Another theory is one connected to the late 19th/early 20th century women's rights activist named Susan B. Anthony.  Her opposers called her lazy and her writings were dubbed lazy Susans.  Hmmm...I wonder if things ever got violent resulting in a black-eyed Susan?! 

One type of Lazy Susan
Lazy Susans were first used for meal service in a home or restaurant.  Rotating bases of multiple heights made for easy food access at different angles.  Others were single or multi-level, sectioned serving dishes.  Well into the 20th century, this device became fitted into kitchen cupboards.  Now they're evolved into all shapes, sizes and materials, normally hidden from view.
Despite its long past, we tend to think of the Lazy Susan as a retro kitchen accessory, much like a crock pot, mixer or fondue sets.  Traditional kitchen gadgets, accessories and small appliances are becoming fashionable again these days, as home-cooked meals are on the rise. 

So get out there cooking and entertaining!  We are out of winter hybernation (those of us in the Northern Hemisphere).  Brush the sleep out of our eyes and get moving!



Catwalk Creative Vintage said...

I'd always wondered why they were called Lazy Susans! Thanks for all the info. :-)

Interestingly, I have part of a 'Lazy Susan' set for sale on my website. The set is by 'Beauceware' which I believe was a Canadian art pottery company that was based in Quebec. Not very well known over here but perhaps you've heard of them?

Some Like it said...

They are certainly handy and I love the one you have! I have heard of the company but do not know much about Beauce, it reminds me of the Blue Mountain Pottery that is so popular here too.