Period: 1884

The steam kitchens – tasty, healthy, affordable food

In Nice, France, L.O. Smith started to work on a proposal that would benefit the working classes. He figured that if they ate good, healthy food, they would work harder, which would benefit them professionally. The idea of the steam kitchen came to Sweden from England in the 1850s. Smith’s steam kitchens were cooperatives with state-of-the-art equipment and innovative ownership. The idea was that the steam kitchens would be run by the workers themselves at cost price.

Smith had ambitious plans. In the book The foundation of death – a study of the drink-question, he explained:

“I have patents in both Sweden and Norway. My plan is to have machines in every city in the whole country, and at least ten only in Stockholm.”

A German inventor called Becker was hired to deliver the cooking appliances. Smith arranged a venue at Kungsholmen in Stockholm. When it opened, many people were curious about this new kind of restaurant. It was not a huge success however, and Smith soon declared that too many people were working against him in order for him to realize his plans. During the devastating fire in Sundsvall four years later, Smith donated everything to people in need – equipment and kitchen utensils as well as food and drink.