A Tommy cooker was a compact, portable stove, fuelled by something referred to as solidified alcoholwhich was issued to British troops (Tommies) in World War I. It was notoriously ineffective; one soldier complained that it took two hours to boil half a pint of water. A variety of commercial or improvised alternatives were in use.
A refined version remained in use during World War II, using gelled fuel in a tin can; a steel ring fitted to the can supported a mess tin.
Until recently the British army still used compact portable solid fuel (hexamine) stoves, until replaced by the BCB Fire Dragon alcohol gel fuel stove.
The term also came to be applied by the German tank crews as a derogatory nickname for the Sherman tank whose earlier models acquired a reputation for bursting up in flames when hit, due to improper ammunition storage.
My Pack contained the following items. ...A tin containing extra solidified methylated spirits (i.e. Refill for a "Tommy's Cooker.")
'Tinned Heat' was a little round tin pocket stove, or 'Campaigner's Cooker'. Only 3½ inches in diameter and 1½ inches high, it contained solidified methylated spirits. It was deemed to be perfectly safe, quite practical and absolutely efficient; an ideal arrangement for a soldier's use in the trenches. If anything could be pronounced ideal in those circumstances. 'Tinned Heat' cost 10½d each.
Invented around 1900, Sterno is made from ethanol, methanol, water and an amphoteric oxide gelling agent, plus a dye that gives it a characteristic pink color. Designed to be odorless, a 7 oz (198 g) can will burn for up to two hours. The methanol is added to denature the product, which essentially is intended to make it too toxic for consumption, thus the British term 'Methylated Spirits'.
The British cookers were made by Tommy's Cooker Co., Limited, The Little Kitchener Co. and the "Pals" Cooker by Matthias Jackson & Sons.
British cookers used by individuals were generally known as Tommy Cookers and came in a number of different forms. The two most popular designs used were:
Cylindrical tin container, an inscription reads; "SOLID FUEL COOKER (Stand, Disc & Tablets), INSTRUCTIONS INSIDE". The tin is black and measures 4 1/2" in height and 2 1/2" in diameter. The entire item weighs 309g. The instructions inside are like a newspaper cutting and say the following;
- DIRECTIONS FOR USE
- 1. Remove stand from this container and open out legs equally.
- 2. Place (hinge downwards) on level non-inflammable surface.
- 3. Remove metal disc from this container and fix on stand immediately above hinge so that the three slots cut in the edge of disc lock firmly on legs of stand.
- 4. Place one fuel tablet on metal disc and ignite with match, lighter etc.
- 5. To extinguish, tip tablet off stand and cover with lid.
- 6. If greater heat required, break tablet into two or more pieces and stand these upright on the disc. If less heat required, break off small piece and use instead of whole tablet.
- (a) It is essential to shield cooker from all draughts, using box, tin etc. or heating may be carried out in a shallow trench.
- (b) If used in a covered accommodation, allow adequate ventilation to assist combustion and to remove fumes.
A portable stove is a cooking stove specially designed to be portable and lightweight, used in camping, picnicking, backpacking, or other use in remote locations where an easily transportable means of cooking or heating is needed. Portable stoves can be used in diverse situations, such as for outdoor food service and catering and in field hospitals.
Outdoor cooking differs substantially from kitchen-based cooking, the most obvious difference being lack of an easily defined kitchen area. As a result, campers and backpackers have developed a significant body of techniques and specialized equipment for preparing food in outdoors environments. Such techniques have traditionally been associated with nomadic cultures such as the Berbers of North Africa, the Arab Beduins, the Plains Indians and pioneers of North America, and have been carried down to and refined in modern times for use during recreational outdoors pursuits.
An oven is a thermally insulated chamber used for the heating, baking, or drying of a substance, and most commonly used for cooking. Kilns and furnaces are special-purpose ovens used in pottery and metalworking, respectively.
A kitchen stove, often called simply a stove or a cooker, is a kitchen appliance designed for the purpose of cooking food. Kitchen stoves rely on the application of direct heat for the cooking process and may also contain an oven, used for baking. "Cookstoves" are heated by burning wood or charcoal; "gas stoves" are heated by gas; and "electric stoves" by electricity. A stove with a built-in cooktop is also called a range.
Tommy Atkins is slang for a common soldier in the British Army. It was certainly well established during the nineteenth century, but is particularly associated with the First World War. It can be used as a term of reference, or as a form of address. German soldiers would call out to "Tommy" across no man's land if they wished to speak to a British soldier. French and Commonwealth troops would also call British soldiers "Tommies". In more recent times, the term Tommy Atkins has been used less frequently, although the name "Tom" is occasionally still heard; private soldiers in the British Army's Parachute Regiment are still referred to as "Toms".
A mess kit is a collection of silverware and cookware used during camping and backpacking, as well as extended military campaigns. There are many varieties of mess kits available to consumers, and militaries commonly provide them to their troops.
Sterno is a brand of jellied, denatured, alcohol sold in a can, and meant to be burned directly in its can. Its primary uses are in food service for buffet heating and in the home for fondue and as a chafing fuel for heating chafing dishes. Other uses are for portable stoves and as an emergency heat source. It is also a popular fuel for use with toy and model steam and other external combustion engines.
Induction cooking is performed using direct induction heating of cooking vessels, rather than relying on indirect radiation, convection, or thermal conduction. Induction cooking allows high power and very rapid increases in temperature to be achieved, and changes in heat settings are instantaneous.
A gas stove is a stove that is fuelled by combustible gas such as syngas, natural gas, propane, butane, liquefied petroleum gas or other flammable gas. Before the advent of gas, cooking stoves relied on solid fuels such as coal or wood. The first gas stoves were developed in the 1820s and a gas stove factory was established in England in 1836. This new cooking technology had the advantage of being easily adjustable and could be turned off when not in use. The gas stove, however, did not become a commercial success until the 1880s, by which time supplies of piped gas were available in cities and large towns in Britain. The stoves became widespread on the European Continent and in the United States in the early 20th century.
A solar cooker is a device which uses the energy of direct sunlight to heat, cook or pasteurize drink and other food materials. Many solar cookers currently in use are relatively inexpensive, low-tech devices, although some are as powerful or as expensive as traditional stoves, and advanced, large-scale solar cookers can cook for hundreds of people. Because they use no fuel and cost nothing to operate, many nonprofit organizations are promoting their use worldwide in order to help reduce fuel costs and air pollution, and to slow down the deforestation and desertification caused by gathering firewood for cooking.
A hexamine fuel tablet is a form of solid fuel in tablet form. The tablets burn smokelessly, have a high energy density, do not liquefy while burning and leave no ashes. Invented in Murrhardt, Germany, in 1936, the main component is hexamine, which was discovered by Aleksandr Butlerov in 1859. Some fuel tablets use 1,3,5-trioxane as another ingredient.
A biomass cook stove is heated by burning wood, charcoal, animal dung or crop residue. Cook stoves are commonly used for cooking and heating food in rural households. Nearly half of the world's population, approximately 3 billion people, use solid fuels such as coal, wood, animal dung, and crop residues for their domestic energy needs. Among those who use indoor cooking stoves, the poorest families living in rural areas most frequently use solid fuels, where it continues to be relied on by up to 90% of households. Households in developing countries consume significantly less energy than those in developed countries; however, over 50% of the energy is for cooking food. The average rural family spends 20% or more of its income purchasing wood or charcoal for cooking. The urban poor also frequently spend a significant portion of their income on the purchase of wood or charcoal. Deforestation and erosion often result from harvesting wood for cooking fuel. The main goal of most improved cooking stoves is to reduce the pressure placed on local forests by reducing the amount of wood the stoves consume, and to reduce the negative health impacts associated with exposure to toxic smoke from traditional stoves.
A reflector oven, is a polished metal container, often made of tin. It is designed to enclose an article of food on all but one side, to cause it to bake by capturing radiant heat from an open fire, and reflecting the heat towards the food, avoiding smoke flavoring the food. In its simplest form, a reflector oven is simply a box or collar that partially surrounds the food, with an open side that faces the heat source, which is generally either a hearth fire or a portable stove, depending on the situation in which the food is being prepared. In Colonial America this method of baking meat, fowl, quick bread, or pastries, was a very popular method for hearth cooking.
A haybox, straw box, fireless cooker, insulation cooker, wonder oven, self-cooking apparatus, norwegian cooker or retained-heat cooker is a cooker that utilizes the heat of the food being cooked to complete the cooking process. Food items to be cooked are heated to boiling point, and then insulated. Over a period of time, the food items cook by the heat captured in the insulated container. Generally, it takes three times the normal cooking time to cook food in a haybox.
Cooker may refer to several types of cooking appliances and devices used for cooking foods.
A thermal cooker, or a vacuum flask cooker, is a cooking device that uses thermal insulation to retain heat and cook food without the continuous use of fuel or other heat source. It is a modern implementation of a haybox, which uses hay or straw to insulate a cooking pot.
The Benghazi burner or Benghazi cooker was the nickname of an improvised petrol stove or brazier, used by British Army troops and their Commonwealth and Imperial allies in the Second World War, during and after the North African Campaign.
The portable gas stove is a combination of portability and functionality; combining the light weight of a small gas canister with the heat output needed to cook a meal. Portable stoves in modern times can be divided into several broad categories based on the type of fuel used and the design of the aluminium stoving frame. Unpressurised stoves use solid/liquid fuel placed in the burner before ignition. Combustible stove hangers use a form of volatile liquid fuel in a pressurized burner i.e. bottled gas stoves. They originate from the gravity-fed 1932 "spirit" stoves or réchaud de gaz de dirigeant.
I cannot imagine what the Home Office have been doing. I understand that every facility has been given to Jacob Strumpf to go to all our military camps, and to get orders from the canteens, or wherever he can secure them, for this "Little Kitchener". There cannot be any military necessity in question because a better article, the original article, the article which a patent has been applied for, [Tommy's Cooker] is manufactured by an English company with entirely English shareholders. (Image of p. 819 at Google Books)
The Little Kitchener Co., 11-13, Gilbert Street. London W.C. announced that Mr. Robert Blackie, Shen Works, Tower Bridge Road, London, S.E., has taken over the manufacture of the "Little Kitchener" cooker. We have since received one of the stoves, which, as will be seen from Mr. Blackie's advertisement, consists of a tin of solidified methylated spirit, with a trivet for supporting a small boiling-pot. At the present time these cooking-outfits are selling vigorously for sending out to soldiers on active service.(p.236) & Tommy's Cooker Co., Limited, 31, Carburton Street, Great Portland Street, W. —The Soldier's Pocket Stove, manufactured by this company has attained a wonderful popularity, three millons actually having been supplied already to the Allies' armies and the various Red Cross and ambulance associations.(p.339)
The "Pals" Cooker is made by Matthias Jackson & Sons, Shepley Street, London Road, Manchester. It is a portable stove which uses solidified spirit as fuel, and is of the variety so much in vogue among soldiers at the Front.