East Side History Madison’s Blog

By and for the East Side History Club, a project of the Goodman Community Center

The incredible edible egg-cooker

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on August 29, 2009

DSCN4049

Hankscraft Egg Cooker, donated by Gretta Wing Miller, approx. 70 years old

Salesman shows a Hankscraft egg cooker to a customer at Harloff-Loprich Electric Company, 506 State Street. December 1928. Angus McVicar photo Whi-21460  courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society.

Salesman shows a Hankscraft egg cooker to a customer at Harloff-Loprich Electric Company, 506 State Street. December 1928. Angus McVicar photo Whi-21460 courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society.

Beginning with the invention of a new heating concept for a simple egg cooker, a company with deep Madison roots produced a line of domestic appliances that took it to multi-million-dollar success. The company’s products can still be found in many a Madison home.

The company’s name? Hankscraft.

The occasion for musing on it? The donation of a Hankscraft Egg Cooker ca. 1933, by Gretta Wing-Miller, documentary filmmaker and Eastsider. Thanks, Gretta!

The first egg cookers were heated by an alcohol lamp, but that was far from efficient. Inventor Marshall Hanks, working for Westinghouse at the time, developed a unit which used water as a conductor of electrical current. The water touching two electrodes closed the circuit and heated the water. When the water boiled away the circuit was broken and the unit shut off automatically. The amount of water used governed the cooking time.

Hankscraft egg cooker

Patent application for Liquid Conductor Heater, Nov. 24 1936, M.W. Hanks et al

Other products soon followed, and Hankscraft became a trusted household brand selling a wide variety of baby products such as bottle warmers, vaporizers, and humidifiers. (They also created small motors for display animation and industrial use.)

The company’s first office spaces were rented from the French Battery Co. on Winnebago Street in 1920. (Later Ray-O-Vac, this site is now the vacant Union Corners lot). The company built a factory at 1007 E. Washington Ave. in 1938. In 1949,unable to  find space to grow in Madison, the company made its final move to its present location in Reedsburg. Acquisitions and diversification have kept the company as strong as an incredible, edible egg…

If you have memories or memorabilia related to Hankscraft, please comment on this post or contact the Club!

-Sarah White

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5 Responses to “The incredible edible egg-cooker”

  1. Marilyn said

    Contact what Club?

  2. Kathy Zoeller said

    Does anyone know if these egg cookers can be repaired? if so, who? Thanks.

    • eastsidehistorymadison said

      In Madison (Monona), I’d try Kiefer Appliance, 4511 Monona Drive. They seem to respect “elderly” appliances. I think these cookers are pretty simple appliances & could be repaired. Thanks for reading our blog, Kathy!
      – Sarah White

      • David Boysel said

        I have had a Hankscraft egg cooker for years, it works perfectly.
        Mine is cream colored porcelain, and similar to the one donated.

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