In the early 1900s kitchens didn’t have built-in cabinets. A housewife of the era might have had some open shelves to store the dishes on and some things would hang on nails driven into the wall.
Getting a Hoosier cabinet gave the woman of the house a workstation with many modern conveniences. It had a rack for spices, a flour sifter, a deep drawer lined with tin or zinc to hold flour, and a variety of other conveniences all in one location.
In this vintage ad from a 1920 newspaper, you see the price range from $20 up to $71 while on sale. This was quite a bit of money in the days when a teacher might only earn $2000 in a year and the average wage was just over $3,000.
Since families made their own bread at home, the convenience of a Hoosier cabinet held strong appeal. There was an enamel counter surface for rolling out the dough and all your ingredients and tools were close to hand.
These continued to be popular into the 1930s, 1940s and lingered into the 1950s. You see the basic style is similar to that of the 1920s, but now the 1950s homemaker might have an electric mixer and an electric frying pan. Many houses built in the post-WWII housing boom would have wall cupboards and counters similar to kitchens of today.
The old Hoosier cabinets fell out of favor. They show up in antique stores now and are considered quaint. There’s some nostalgia for these symbols of grandma’s kitchen and some find new life as display cabinets for vintage dishes or are used in cottage style decorating.
Read more about Hoosier cabinets.