Now in its seventh season, Top Chef is still breaking enough ground to have scored an Emmy this weekend in the "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program" category. (Then again, the award may not be a fair gauge of innovation: The Amazing Race has won it seven years in a row.)
But a few elements of the popular cooking show are decidedly retro. When contestants go home with cookware and appliances donated by program sponsors, they're participating in a television tradition that dates back to the age of black-and-white console sets.
Adam Nedeff, a cat-owning, softball-playing game show devotee from Huntington, W.V., helpfully dug up a few clips of very early culinary prizes on The Price is Right for City of Ate. Nedeff, who maintains the Game Show Utopia web site, found rarely-seen examples of the grills and refrigerators that set 1950s housewives' hearts aflutter.
Have a look after the jump:
It would have cost a backyard griller about $45 - a figure that translates to $330 today -- to load up this massive cooker with sirloin steaks. Fortunately, the game show has a money-saving solution.
Whoever stocked the freezer and refrigerator featured in this segment seems to have had a weakness for milk and lard; No wonder the motorized shopping cart awarded to the winning contestant was such a hot item.
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Stay tuned for the prize unveiling, which features more meat than a typical FDA recall.
It seems unlikely the contestant who claimed the modern kitchen in this segment made much use of her new cutting board and rotisserie, since her prize package also included more than 500 frozen dinners.