DEAR JERRY: Recently my brother-in-law bought a Waring Blender. When I told him that Fred Waring, the famous band leader, invented the blender. He said that story is preposterous.
Could you verify that my statement is true?
Kathe Whaley (email@example.com)
DEAR KATHE: At last! An opportunity to blend my musical expertise with a longtime small home appliance fixation. According to The Fred Society:
“Fred Waring and his singing group, the Pennsylvanians, spread their smooth sound throughout the world. He sold millions of records and won the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor the U.S. government can bestow on a civilian. Often dubbed 'The Man Who Taught America To Sing,' Waring was most famous for his love of choral music.
“He started innocently enough with a troupe known as Waring's Banjazztra in early '20s. The collision of theater with radio and phonographic records opened possibilities for entertainers. It was not long before Fred Waring became involved with show business using these forms of media. As the '20s progressed, the troupe became known as Waring's Pennsylvanians.
“Fred made numerous records until the inevitable clash of radio and recorded music caused copyright problems in the smaller market radio stations. Since Waring's livelihood depended heavily on both media, he lobbied hard for broadcasting reforms so the authors of recorded music would received fair compensation for their work.
“He continued to be the showman extraordinare, and a successful entrepreneur. He was the host of several radio shows and The Fred Waring Show, which ran from 1949 to 1954. In addition to performances by his orchestra and large chorus, the show included dancing, sketches, and interpretations of fairy tales. He also showcased a line of appliances, most notably the Waring Blender.”
Thus it appears Waring marketed, or “showcased” a line of blenders, but he did not invent the device.
For that crucial view of blender history, we turn to a page posted by American Leasing:
“Contrary to widespread belief, Fred Waring did not invent the Waring Blender, but he made it happen.
“Waring and his Pennsylvanians had just finished a radio broadcast at Manhattan's Vanderbilt's Theatre, when he was visited by promoter Fred Osius, looking for a backer to produce and market a new type of mixer which he claimed would revolutionize people's eating habits.
“When the prototype didn't work, six months and $25,000 later Waring stepped in, turned the project over to one of his associates who solved the engineering and production problems just in time to introduce the 'Miracle Mixer' at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago, in September of 1937.
“Largely due to Fred Waring's own promotions on radio and through a singing group, the Waring Blenders, and a national campaign with a leading beverage supplier, the spectacular drink-making ability of the Waring Blender (as it was soon called) made it a fixture in most restaurants and bars. More and more people decided they wanted one in their kitchen.
“At that point it was an instant hit and the rest is history.”
As for who is right, I'm inclined to call this one a draw. Both you and your brother-in-law are a little bit right and a little bit wrong.
IZ ZAT SO? Fred Waring (1900-1984) ranks among the Top 10 artists of the Roaring '20s. Among his No. 1 hits are: “Sleep; Memory Lane; Laugh, Clown, Laugh; I Found a Million-Dollar Baby (In a Five-and-Ten-Cent Store);” and “Stack O' Lee Blues.”
In late 1958, a soulful, reincarnation of the latter retitled “Stagger Lee,” became a No. 1 hit for Lloyd Price.