A81_519_a.jpg Cooler, Butter (about 1930s-1940s). Taranaki Brick & Tile Company, John Howie. Collection of Puke Ariki (A81.519).

Worries about rancid butter and meat soon evaporated for owners of this clever terracotta cooler. Cool cupboards like this one, with a copper door and latch, were made by John Howie at the Taranaki Brick & Tile Company during the 1930s and 1940s and their simple, effective design proved to be a practical way to keep food chilled. Water was poured into the shallow tray at the top of the cooler and as it gradually soaked through the body and evaporated, the interior was kept cold. While this product was known as a 'butter cooler', it would no doubt have acted as an all purpose refrigerator for many. Perhaps this product is on the verge of a comeback as the power bills from inefficient electric beer fridges mount?

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