The rice cooker: liberating generations of chefs

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While promoting their electronic washing machine in Japan during the 1950s, Toshiba asked housewives about the onerous task of cooking rice, giving birth to the modern day rice cooker. Photo courtesy of Canva.

Cooking rice on a wood burning stove was an art, says Anne Ewbank. Around 1945, engineer Masaru Ibuka started a small company in an abandoned department store that fixed radios. His team was often paid in rice, and their first invention was a rice cooker. Ibuka eventually founded Sony. Ewbank documents the history of rice cookers in her piece for Atlas Obscura.

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Evan Kleiman