A Sunbeam Mixer and 1950s Brownies

Lillian and the Sunbeam mixer - 1952
Lillian and the Sunbeam mixer – 1952

In 1952, I was working at Procter & Gamble’s corporate offices in downtown Cincinnati.  I was a secretary in the Radio/TV Advertising Department and worked for the two department heads plus three young members of the staff.  On May 31, 1952, early in the morning of the day I was to be married, a special delivery letter arrived.  It contained a cute page made up by my co-worker, Bert Berman, had the signatures of the rest of the men in the department  and  informed me that I was going to be receiving a SUNBEAM ELECTRIC MIXER.

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I was completely surprised since Mr. Smith and Mr. Craig had already sent beautiful sterling silver pieces, but there was nothing I wanted more than an electric mixer.  The manual/cookbook that came with the mixer was my baking bible for the next ten years at least.  It’s in tatters now with the cover and a couple of pages missing.

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I made a lot of good food with that Sunbeam and manual.  This is a picture of my older daughter and son, waiting for me to start mixing his first birthday cake in 1957.
One of the family’s favorites was an easy recipe for brownies.  I named them my “Best Brownies”, copied from my recipe binder below.


¾ cup sifted flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening or margarine (started using Imperial margarine in 1989)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, unbeaten
4 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups chopped nuts

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar.
Add shortening, vanilla and eggs.

Beat one minute, then add the cocoa and nuts.
Beat ½ minute longer.  

Pour into greased 8×8 pan.  Bake @ 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Cut while still warm. 

Old 1950s recipe from original Sunbeam mixer cookbook.  Have made a thousand times.

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Saying that I have baked these brownies 1,000 times over the past 60 plus years isn’t too much of an exaggeration.  I made up a batch today just for old time’s sake.

My Sunbeam  mixer lasted 30 years until 1982.  By that time, I was doing a lot of bread baking and wanted a very strong unit along with dough hooks.  I chose a Kitchen Aid mixer which is still working beautifully 33 years later.  It has served me well, but has never given me the surprise and thrill of that first old Sunbeam.

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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

14 thoughts on “A Sunbeam Mixer and 1950s Brownies”

  1. My mother had a Mixmaster, and so did I. Now, I also have a Kitchen Aid. I bought it from a friend who needed money more than a mixer she didn’t use, and it was a great deal. It has the dough hook, flat beater and the wire whip, but sometimes I wish for the two beaters like the Kitchen Aid hand held. Things tend to get balled up inside the whip. Should I be using the flat one more?

    1. I use the flat paddle for everything except things you might whisk by hand – egg whites, frosting, cream, etc. And, of course, the hooks for kneading dough.

  2. What a marvelous photo of you with the mixer. For those of us who love to bake, kitchen ‘gadgets’ are a lot of fun. You surely got good mileage from yours.

  3. I love this story and it brings back so many memories. I still have my first cook book after I married and like yours it is worn and starting to fall apart. I would never part with it! My blender that I wanted is long gone, but I still remember Tom was baffled that I wanted a blender for Christmas. Bless his sweet soul he got me one, but felt guilty so he bought me a few thing to decorate the house with.

    1. I’ve always loved getting household items as gifts. I remember when I was married just two years getting a steam iron from my husband. I was thrilled – they were brand-new then.

      1. we are easy to please! I alwYs enjoyed cooking and caring for the house. I told Tom since I enjoyed cooking he was buying things for my hobbie, but he still did not like buying “household” items for gifts but he did because he knew it made me happy.

  4. I love that mixture, my mom had the very same mixer. It lasted her entire life. And as you say lots of wonderful things where made with that. Thanks for sharing and jogging my fond memories.

  5. I saved this post for today to read because I am making these brownies today! I just want a pan of homemade brownies the old fashioned way……..I’m thrilled you posted this earlier in the week! I’ll let you know how they turn out – I’ll even post a pix!

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