I’ve spent the last five years trying to figure out how the heck side-by-side refrigerators got so popular in the ’80s.
I grew up thinking my family, with our old-fashioned one-door, freezer-on-top model, was missing out, that somehow the families with side-by-sides were enjoying better meals and tastier snacks. They were certainly enjoying hipper, more modern kitchens.
Oh, the misguided assumptions of youth. I finally got my new-fangled side-by-side refrigerator when we moved to Huntsville (at the same time, I might add, that the hippest homeowners were purchasing refrigerators with French doors and freezer drawers on the bottom).
I quickly ascertained that side-by-sides are virtually useless for anyone who actually wants to USE a refrigerator. I was constantly rearranging things to try to make other things fit. The freezer was a disaster, with two extremely deep, extremely narrow drawers that quickly turned into a tumbled mess of freezer bags and containers no matter how careful I was to try to keep them organized, and shelves that were difficult to navigate despite their small size.
Organizing the refrigerator shelves was like playing a game of culinary Tetris. A gallon of milk and a container of orange juice was pretty much all the top shelf could handle. My love for greens fresh out of the salad spinner required a dedicated bottom shelf. The small salad spinner, mostly reserved for fresh herbs, sometimes had to reside in the crisper, a problem given that the drawer usually already contained an array of veggies.
We never got around to getting another one, partly because someone had kindly custom-built the cabinets around the refrigerator, severely limiting the potential replacement models.
Now that I’m in Atlanta, I’m once again living with an old-school, freezer-on top refrigerator with one non-French door. Only this time, I’ve decided that old-school is pretty awesome.
The refrigerator shelves offer wide, open spaces — currently, the salad spinner is residing alongside half a gallon of milk, a carton of goat cheese AND a jar of jelly. The freezer’s a huge open space — no shelves, but a couple of small plastic boxes can help sort a LOT of frozen foods. It even has a working ice maker, an innovation that I have, until now, not enjoyed in my own home.
The whole setup is so much more usable than the side-by-side that I’m not even curious about freezer drawers on the bottom anymore. I just want space that makes sense.
I guess the moral of this post is to be careful what you wish for, because you might be stuck cursing at it for five long years when you finally get it.