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Here's one way to cook your Thanksgiving turkey: The 'Barbecue King' infrared cooking unit, on show at the United States Trade Centre catering equipment exhibition in London. (Getty Images/Courtesy of 'LIFE')

Infrared Turkey Cooker And Other Improbable Culinary Gadgets

by Claire O'Neill
Nov 24, 2010

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According to this 1939 article in Popular Science, Russell E. Oakes was an advertising man who, in his spare time, came up with "more than fifty screwball innovations," like a doughnut dunker, a horizonal toast-popper and a wind-up spaghetti fork.

"Since demonstrating this hilarious 'hydraulic lighter,' " the article reads, "Oakes has been in wide demand as an entertainer." Apparently, at the time, Oakes was something of a national sensation. About 70 years later, his inventions still have a certain absurd appeal.

In light of this culinary season, 'LIFE' is revisiting some of Oakes' kitchen inventions — as well as other oddball gadgets found in historical archives, such as this infrared turkey "cooking unit."

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