Oktoberfest is a multi-national celebration of German culture, held annually in Munich, Germany and in many other locations worldwide. German immigrants to the United States before and during the Victorian Era brought the custom with them. The sixteen-day festival of parades, music, food, and folkloric dancing begins on the third Saturday of September each year. The 2016 holiday begins today, September 17, 2016.
Our Victorian American ancestors were inventive people. They needed a solution for perishable food in the worst of summer’s heat (and beyond). They came up with a remarkably well-insulated icebox (officially called a refrigerator far earlier than you might guess), designed to be a beautiful piece of furniture and functional. Some iceboxes went so far as to serve the melted ice water by silver tap. This article contains Victorian instructions for care and cleaning of 19th century refrigerators, advertisements, a crime committed with an industrial-sized (believe it or not: a walk-in) refrigerator, current images of antique iceboxes (both family size and commercial size), the icebox’s impact on beer, and so much more.