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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back in the day: Ice trays

(Note: I posted this last night before going to bed, and this morning I didn't see it. Turns out it was posted with an 11/8 date, even though it was set to time and date stamp automatically. After a little investigation, I found out that there are issues with Blogger when running Firefox, which I recently switched to from Chrome. Ooops!)

Over the past few months, levered ice trays have shown up in blog posts and in those "Remember This?" emails that Baby Boomers send each other when they're feeling nostalgic. It seems that everywhere I look, people are calling these the oldest ice trays they can remember...even people as old as I am. - ozeisler

But I can remember an older style...and can remember very clearly considering the levered style a luxury when it replaced our old trays that didn't have built-in levers. - mystiqueantique

I can even remember the kitchen tool we used to open the lever-less style, but for the life of me, I couldn't find a picture to post. Finally, a few days ago, I spotted an "ice tray puller" on eBay, but it was listed simply as a bottle opener. It is a little fancier than the tool my grandmother had, but it demonstrates the principle nicely.

The cube dividers in the older style had a curved lip, and the hooked double prongs of the puller fit under the lip, straddling the center divider and creating a lever. If you had adequately doused the tray with water, the cubes came out nice and smooth. If you tried it without running water over the tray first, and the cubes shattered. - whitey_johnson

These days I can hardly imagine having a refrigerator without an ice maker, much less having to run water over a metal ice tray and then open it with a special tool. That sounds as obsolete as buggy whips and button hooks! To paraphrase the 1968 Virginia Slims cigarette ad campaign designed to appeal to feminists, we've come a long way, baby.

Update 11/17: Of all the coincidences...For months I've been looking for a picture of a tool like my grandmother had. Just a few minutes ago, I logged on to eBay to see if I could answer a question for a reader, and found one of the ice tray pullers for sale! - diroll


  1. I have quite a few of the trays with built in levers. Its part 3 of my 3 part "Possible Girlfriend Test" haha. #1 Can she dial on a Rotary phone? #2 Can she figure out how to open the 1952 Custom Norge fridge then find the freezer. and #3 (Once having found the freezer) Can she figure out how to get the ice cubes out?!

    The lady im with now passed with flying colors! ;)

  2. Oh yeah, I grew up with those levered ice trays and got a kick out of pulling the ice out... if I even succeeded in doing that, those things can be quite hard.

  3. @Mick: Too funny! I guess if you can up the ante before you buy an engagement ring and get some of the trays without levers! ;)

  4. @I dream lo-tech: The levered ice trays were a snap compared to the ones you had to pry out with a tool. We were elated when we got those and could retire the older version.

  5. yum!! i bought a set of ice trays with levers and dint knw they were broken until i came back of being born in the plastic generation and not seeing vintage ones earlier..:) any idea where i could find the insert..dont mind the ones without a lever

  6. @Sudha: I bet the inserts would be fairly cheap on eBay.

  7. I must be just a tiny bit younger - I remember using the kind with the levers, but I remember seeing the ones without a lever at other people's houses and thinking that the handle had broken off!

  8. @Kristal: That's cute...and I can see how a kid would think that. But, no...we were just woefully behind the latest "technology." ;)