It’s Time to Meet the Fabulous 400

Tappan Fabulous 400 (circa 1960) case you didn't believe me

In the 1960s, when my parents-in-law bought the house where this nearly senior citizen of ranges still resides, it was brand new. Fifty years later the Fabulous 400 is going strong. Of course the oven door hangs a little when open, and a couple of lighting elements don’t work, giving me a good excuse for the occasional “mystery meal.” In my defense, the kitchen lighting in general is not conducive to being 100% sure which seasoning actually ends up in the skillet. The clock and timer stopped working long ago and now serve as a catacomb for generations of unfortunate spiders.

I love to cook. And I have to admit I was not immediately thrilled about doing it on the Fabulous 400. It’s a bit odd, as you can plainly see. And if you too love to cook you’ll quickly recognize some of its limitations. For one, the ovens sit over the elements in such a way that two of my largest pots don’t fit—they await their fate on an out of the way shelf in the pantry. There are four burners—yes, that’s true. But four burners in a row does not make good sense. Don’t even think about using them all at once.For that matter, try not to need three at the same time.

Lest it appear I don’t fully appreciate the Fabulous 400, let me point out some of its virtues. There is a wood drop front that, when engaged, can be used for all sorts of things. I suppose Tappan’s thinking was that it would make a convenient chopping board—and it might, if the cook happens to be 4’8″ tall. It hits me at thigh level. I use it as an overflow when I’m juggling too many pots and pans.

Did I mention two ovens? Well there are. The smaller one is quite a bit smaller than most cooks would like, but it’s handy for warming dishes—and surprisingly perfect for baking a pie crust.

Then there’s the hide-the-burners-somewhere-inside-where-you-can’t-see-them feature. I haven’t yet found a reason to do that, but I’m pretty sure it would keep me up at night wondering if I’d remembered to turn off the burners first. It looks nice, though—doesn’t it?

Absent burners, an unknowing dinner guest might mistake the Fabulous 400 for a china cabinet—or a piano. In any case, it’s an amazing piece of modern architecture.

Fabulous Magnet

Plus, it makes a fantastic fabulous magnet. I never thought I’d be saying so, but we’ve really become quite fond of each other.

Now you’ve met the Fabulous 400!

Please visit anytime.

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