Willis Johnson - Egg Beater

The Egg Beater -- an Early Mixing Machine

Close-Up Of Hand Mixer Over White Background
Axel Bueckert / EyeEm / Getty Images

African-American Willis Johnson of Cincinnati, Ohio, patented and improved the mechanical egg beater (U.S. pat# 292,821) on February 5, 1884. The beater was made up of a handle attached to a series of spring-like whisk wires used to help mix ingredients. Prior to his eggbeater, all mixing of ingredients was done by hand and was quite labor-intensive and time-consuming.

In fact, what Willis Johnson had really invented was the early mixing machine and not just an egg beater. His device was not intended for eggs alone. Johnson had designed his egg beater and mixer for eggs, batter, and other baker's ingredients. It was a double-acting machine with two chambers. Batter could be beaten in one section and eggs could be beaten in another section, or one section could be cleaned while the other section could continue beating.

Egg Beater Patent Abstract

The object of [the] invention is to provide a machine wherewith eggs, batter, and other similar ingredients used by bakers, confectioners, &c., can be beaten or mixed in the most intimate and expeditious manner. The machine consists, essentially, of a mainframe within which is journaled a driving-wheel and a pinion or pulley, the horizontal shaft of the latter having at its opposite ends clutches or sockets, with which are engages square or other non-circular arbors at the inner extremities of a pair of beater shafts. These shafts, which are armed with suitable blades, beaters, or stirrers, are journaled in cylinders that occupy detachable trays or racks applied to the opposite sides of the main frame, hooks, and staples or the convenient devices being employed for retaining said racks in their proper places. As a result of this construction, either one or the other of both cylinders can be readily applied to the racks, and the latter can be coupled to the machine, so as to ensure a very rapid revolution is applied to the driving-wheel, as hereinafter more fully described.

Other Types of Mixers

  • Stand mixers mount the motor in a frame or stand which bears the weight of the device. Stand mixers are larger and have more powerful motors than hand-held mixers. A special bowl locks into place while the mixer runs. Heavy-duty commercial versions can have bowl capacities greater than 25 gallons and weigh thousands of pounds. Mixers that are 5 gallons or less are usually countertop mixers, while larger mixers tend to be floor models due to their size and weight.
  • Spiral mixers are specialist tools for mixing dough. A spiral-shaped agitator remains stationary while the bowl rotates. This method enables spiral mixers to mix the same size dough batch much quicker and with less under-mixed dough than a similarly powered planetary mixer. This allows the dough to be mixed without increasing its temperature, ensuring the dough can rise properly.
  • Planetary mixers consist of a bowl and an agitator. The bowl remains still while the agitator rapidly moves around the bowl for mixing. With the ability to mix a wide variety of ingredients, planetary mixers are more versatile than their spiral counterparts. They can be used to whip and blend.
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Your Citation
Bellis, Mary. "Willis Johnson - Egg Beater." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/willis-johnson-egg-beater-4072139. Bellis, Mary. (2020, August 27). Willis Johnson - Egg Beater. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/willis-johnson-egg-beater-4072139 Bellis, Mary. "Willis Johnson - Egg Beater." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/willis-johnson-egg-beater-4072139 (accessed March 23, 2023).