Deep Fat Fryers

The traditional deep frying pan with a wire basket to hold the food has been in use throughout the twentieth century. Deep fat fryers have different associations in Britain and America. The British saw the stovetop deep fryer as the “chip-pan” used mainly for cooking chips (French fries). Americans tended to associate them more with deep-fried chicken.

The main disadvantage with these models was that left unattended an overheated pan full of fat could cause a dangerous fire. Electric fryers were introduced into the U.S. market in the late 1940s. By the early 1950s rectangular models included Dormeyer’s Fri-well and Dulane’s Fryryte. Sunbeam produced a circular model that also doubled as a roaster and a casserole. Most were thermostatically controlled so that the oil remained at a constant temperature. Cheaper models did not have this feature and relied on the experience of the cook or a fat thermometer. They could also be used without the frying baskets as electric casseroles and soup cookers.

Like other appliances the fundamentals of the earlier electric models remain but plastics replaced steel or aluminum as the outer casings in the 1970s and additional refinements and safety features have been added. Models in the 1990s featured locking lids, vertical oil drainage, “coolwalls” similar to toasters, replaceable or washable filters in the lids to absorb grease and odors, and controls to raise and lower the baskets without lifting the lids. The main manufacturers are De Longhi, Tefal, Moulinex, and Morphy Richards.

These appliances continue to compete with the traditional fryer, and both now have to meet the challenge of the even-more-convenient ready-cut frozen “oven” or “microwave” fries, which can simply be heated up.