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IndustryConsumer Goods
Founded1971; 51 years ago (1971)
FounderCarl Sontheimer
ProductsCookware, ovenware, kitchen tools, kitchen accessories
ParentConair Corporation

Cuisinart (/ˈkwzɪnɑːrt/ kwee-zin-art) is an American home appliance brand owned by Conair Corporation. The company was started in 1971 by Carl Sontheimer to bring an electric food processor to the U.S. market.[1] The "Food Processor" was the first model, introduced at a food show in Chicago in 1973. The name "Cuisinart" became synonymous with "food processor." It is also a portmanteau of "cuisine" and "art."

Cuisinart became the property of Conair Corporation in 1989.[2]

History of Cuisinart[edit]

Cuisinart was founded in 1971 by Carl Sontheimer, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was inspired by his love of French food.[1] This led to the creation of Cuisinart and its main product, the food processor.[3] Cuisinart introduced its brand in January 1973 at a trade show in Chicago. The success of Cuisinart was limited at first, until a review in Gourmet magazine helped to lift sales.[1]

Throughout the mid-1970s, Cuisinart sales rose due to Cuisinart's association with celebrity chefs such as James Beard, a close friend of Carl Sontheimer.[1] Cuisinart became an important product in universal design when it hired Marc Harrison to make Cuisinart's products accessible for everyone, including those with limited mobility or vision.[4]

By the mid-to-late 1980s, Cuisinart incurred financial troubles and suffered from falling sales. A group of investors bought Sontheimer's interest in the company in 1987 for $42 million. In August 1989, the company filed for bankruptcy.[5] This led to Conair buying the company for $27 million.[2]

Legal troubles with Robot-Coupe[edit]

In the late 1970s a legal conflict between Robot-Coupe and Cuisinart developed when Robot-Coupe stopped distributing Cuisinart products and released the products under their own name.[6] Robot-Coupe hired Alvin Fineman, Cuisinart's former marketing director in 1979,[6] who engaged in competitive advertisements that resulted in a lawsuit. Robot-Coupe was ordered to stop insinuating that Cuisinart sold products manufactured by Robot-Coupe.[5]

Products and innovations[edit]

A partial list of Cuisinart products includes:

The Cuisinart company's best-known product is the food processor. It also produced many other products. After Cuisinart hired industrial designer Marc Harrison in the 1970s to design many new products and improve other designs, many of the company's products became associated with universal design.[4] Harrison made its products more functional for users with disabilities, designing larger fonts so that people with vision problems could see them.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d Thomas, Robert McG. Jr. (March 26, 1998). "C. G. Sontheimer, Cuisinart Backer, Dies at 83". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Conair Buys Cuisinart Line". The New York Times. December 28, 1989. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  3. ^ Lewis, Vivian (July 31, 1977). "From France, the Cuisinart". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Williamson, Bess (December 2012). "Getting a Grip: Disability in American Industrial Design of the Late Twentieth Century". Winterthur Portfolio. 46 (4): 213–236. doi:10.1086/669668. ISSN 0084-0416. S2CID 108978324.
  5. ^ a b Kleinfield, N.R. (April 15, 1990). "How Cuisinart Lost Its Edge". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Blade Battle". Time. May 18, 1981. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  7. ^ Catanese, Lynn (2012). "Thomas Lamb, Marc Harrison, Richard Hollerith and the Origins of Universal Design". Journal of Design History. 25 (2): 206–217. doi:10.1093/jdh/eps013. JSTOR 41687795.