The Chef Does Everything – Except Cook. That’s What Wives Are For!

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Mid-20th century America is exemplified through shows like Leave it to Beaver, which portrayed the middle class suburban household and lifestyle accompanied by a white picket fence outside where marriage, occupation, and family were fundamental for a happy and successful life. This portrayal is incredibly important, especially throughout the advertising industry of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

Companies capitalized on this idea in attempting to sell the “white picket fence” lifestyle, whether it was with soap, appliances, or cars. Even though the advertisements often featured simple illustrations and fonts that were not flamboyant, they were able to implement a lasting impression on the audience. An ideal example of this era’s advertising is in a 1961 print ad for the Kenwood Chef (a food mixer with other various capabilities and attachments). The Kenwood Chef advertisement appeals to the consumer through a manipulation of societal ideals, commonplaces, color psychology, and the employment of proper logos and ethos.

The print ad featuring the Kenwood Chef appeared in 1961, at the height of the “baby boomer” generation. This time during the 20th century is remembered by family values and consumerism. The economy after World War II was thriving, and salaries were increasing. Families were able to afford to buy their own houses, have more children, and invest in cars and appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers. Luxuries were purchased, like televisions, and new domestic devices were engineered to make life in the kitchen more savvy and trendy.
This advertisement targets an audience of married men, or women who are able to persuade their husbands, and looking to engage in the thriving economy and life of consumerism most popular during mid-20th century America. The advertisement is appealing to the middle and upper classes who are able afford kitchen accessories like the Kenwood Chef. The audience is singled out through the text in the ad itself which reads: “I’m giving my wife a Kenwood Chef.”
During this era of consumerism in the late 1950s and early 1960s, men were portrayed in the public sphere as white and middle class, living in suburbia with strong family values. The wife was supposed to stay at home, wear conservative clothing, and was often pictured in the kitchen. Her duty was to take care of the house and meet her family’s needs, such as preparing meals and doing the laundry. This image of family life was depicted as picturesque, clean cut, and very simple. In the Kenmore Chef ad, the husband is pictured in a tailored suit and clean shaven, in the company of this wife who is dressed in a conservative outfit with manicured nails. She is affectionately hugging her husband and the two are both smiling. The image in the ad accurately reflects how the “white picket fence” lifestyle was popularly portrayed in 1961.
The Kenwood advertisement reads, in one fragment: “The Chef does everything but cook – that’s what wives are for!” The Chef’s slogan reinforces the ideal of a woman’s duty in the kitchen, with one of her main responsibilities being to cook for the rest of the family. The advertisement doesn’t want the husband or male component of society to think that the Kenwood Chef is too productive or self-sufficient; the wife needs to fulfill her obligation and remain as the cook.  

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