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."