Gadgets of yore - household items from your childhood

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1. Trimphone

Like a mobile phone - but a lot harder to dial, and completely unportable.

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"We had a trimphone on a glass, wall mounted, half-moon shelf in the hall - so you had to have your conversations by the front door in the freezing cold."


2. Runner bean slicer

In the Seventies, beans had to be served in teeny-tiny slivers by law. 

Runner bean slicer
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"It clamps to the edge of the work surface and you feed the whole beans into a slot. As you turn the handle, perfectly sliced shards of bean result."

3. Electric potato peeler

Because who doesn't want another oversized, never-used gadget in your tiny kitchen cupboards?

Electric potato peeler
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"It was a big round thing with a sandpaper belt inside which spun the potatoes round, and they came out with bits of peel stuck all over them peeled. Christ, it was noisy."

4. Goblin Teasmade

A permanent feature of The Generation Game's conveyor belt, no Seventies gadget was more coveted. 


"My parents still have their Teasmade. It must be at least 30 years old by now."

5. Pressure cooker

As if doing all the cooking wasn't pressure enough on its own.pressure cooker

"When it went off, Mum would run out of the room because she had convinced herself it would explode. Dad would be left to open it whilst she peeped around the living room door."


6. 'Bully' tin opener

Fortuitously-named gadget which resembled a torture device. 

Bully tin opener
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"One that you used to saw the tin with before the 'turn the key' ones. Bloody dangerous."

7. Side-loading toaster

Part bread-browning device, part reflex tester. 

Side loading toaster
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"It used to propel the toast across the room when it 'popped up'. It also used to catch fire."

8. Ewbank carpet sweeper

The Dyson of its time, and unquestionably due a revival.

ewbank sweeper
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"My grandmother had a Ewbank carpet sweeper. I think one would come in handy now for picking up the crumbs round the table."

9. Twin tubs

Guaranteed to make you unutterably grateful for even the most basic modern model.

Twin Tub
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"Mum had to use those long wooden tongs to move the clothes about (I have a pair of them now)."

10. Magnetic soap holder

Because why wouldn't you wall-mount your soap?

Soap Holder
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"You pushed a bit of metal in the soap and then it stuck to a magnetic bracket on the wall."

11. Ronco Buttoneer

"One click and the button is done" - we all need a buttoneer in our life.

Ranco Buttoneer
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"My nan was a sucker for those brilliant Ronco adverts on TV. The Ronco Buttoneer was her prized possession!"

12. Bonnet hair dryer

Words fail us.

Bonnet Hair Dryer
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"My mum had some weird sort of hairdryer hood thing with a plastic hose attached. Or I might have dreamt that one up."

13. Soap press

The sort of thing Kirstie Allsopp probably used as a child.

Soap Press
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"It supposedly turned the last small pieces of soap bars into new soap bars."

14. Coffee percolator

So impressive that a series of ads were commissioned to suggest that instant coffee could be just as good as the stuff you made in your percolator.

Brooke Bond Red Mountain - Restaurant (1987, UK)

"I remember my parents making coffee in a percolator. Haven't seen one in 30 years!"


Parents own any retro gadgets that weren't on the list? Share them on the full thread here


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Last updated: 37 minutes ago