The Discovery of Microwave Cooking

The discovery of microwave cooking is likely the most celebrated, and reviled, culinary discovery since fire.

The discovery of microwave cooking is likely the most celebrated, and reviled,  culinary discovery since fire. Microwaves are short radio waves, similar to light and heat waves. They work through motion. The microwaves cause the molecules of food to move which produces friction, causing heat and in turn cooking. It is similar to rubbing your hands to get warm, only on a molecular level. The friction produces heat within the food, rather than throughout the oven.

There is a legend to go with the use of microwaves for cooking. Percy Le Baron Spencer was working for the Raytheon Company during World War II. It is said that one day, in 1942, he was working with magnatrons, which produce microwaves. After awhile at work he pulled a candy bar from his pocket for a snack, only to discover it was a melted mess. While he had been working on scientific experiments, they were completely unrelated to cooking. Regardless, he put two and two together to realize that the microwaves were what had melted his chocolate treat. He knew that if the waves could melt chocolate then they would heat and cook other foods as well. The Raytheon Company agreed with his assessment and by 1947 had it Radarange on the market for public purchase.

The first microwave ovens were suspected to cause health problems, and despite much research and time, some people still are suspicious about the safety of microwave cooking. A multitude of products intended for utilizing the microwave has since been introduced and this cooking method is now a staple in the modern kitchen.

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  1. Quite an amazing discovery, thanks for sharing.

  2. Only ionizing radiation is known and accepted as ‘dangerous’ radiation. Microwaves, while they will burn skin, are in frequency far below the ionizing threshold.
    Still, a somewhat anecdotal experiment was done by a high school girl using two identical plants (bean plants, -whatever) and one was water using only tap water, the other watered with tap water boiled by microwave and allowed to cool to room temperature.

    The tap-water-only plant grew normally while the microwaved-watered plant failed to thrive. It grew, but it was stunted and weak and never did as well as the compeer plant next to it..

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