By Mary Giorgio
Today coveted antique store or flea market finds, Hoosier Cabinets were once a kitchen staple in American households. Pre-dating modern homes with built-in kitchen cabinetry, Hoosier Cabinets fulfilled a need for storage and workspace. Many of these early cabinets were designed by the Indiana company, the Hoosier Manufacturing Company, from which the term “Hoosier Cabinet” originated.
The first Hoosier Cabinets appeared on the market around 1898. They were designed as a convenience for American households, promising to save women valuable meal prep time. Families could store tools, supplies, and ingredients at arm’s reach while using the cabinet’s generous counter space to prepare meals.
Freestanding kitchen cabinets began as utilitarian units but soon evolved to include many helpful novelties. There was a place to store flour, sugar, spices, and tools. They were cupboards for appliances. Some units had a meat grinder attachment or cookbook stand. Spice organizers and flour sifters became especially popular. Special glassware was even made to custom fit in the units.
The Hoosier Manufacturing Company quickly rose to fame as sales of their cabinet units took off. The company was one of the earliest manufacturers of Hoosier Cabinets and quickly became the largest manufacturer of the product. It began operations in Albany, Indiana, in 1898, but later relocated to New Castle. Their great success was likely due to an emphasis on marketing. Ads for their cabinet appeared in popular national magazines like The Ladies Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post.