While you may be familiar with the gloppy yet delicious Shabbat afternoon stew that is cholent, you may not know about the word’s French etymology, nor the fact that we have a Jewish inventor to thank for the appliance that allows us to slowly cook our meat-and-bean-potato stew. Though you probably aren’t surprised.
That inventor is Irving Naxon, whose 200 patents include none other than the forerunner of the Crock-Pot. Naxon’s daughter, Lenore, has said that her father “constantly had ideas. He had the gene of figuring out how to do something.”
Why figure out how to slowly heat stew? Because after learning of his shtetl-born mother’s Herculean efforts to make cholent, Naxon was inspired to create a self-contained slow-heating element for home cooks.
Naxon created what he called the Naxon Beanery, a cooker named both after himself and the food he intended it for—beans. He sold it primarily to coffee shops and luncheonettes. In 1970, a rival company appropriately called Rival bought the rights to the appliance and reintroduced it to the world as the one and only Crock-Pot.
Shabbos would never smell the same.
June 25, 2013