I had always assumed the origins of the AGA stove were uniquely British, but this stalwart appliance was actually created about a century ago by blind Swedish physicist Gustaf Dalén, a Nobel Laureate. It took Dalén and his company seven years of prototyping to develop the AGA, and it was purpose-built as a solution to his wife Elma’s frustration at having to constantly stoke their cookstove and closely watch over the food she prepared.
At first glance, the AGA, while not without its throwback charm, may look like a curious relic of a bygone era to the uninitiated eye—an intimidating enameled hunk of no-thank-you, salvaged from a locomotive museum. Or something passed on from an old house’s original tenants, left in place, too heavy to extract or dismantle. Certainly it’s not something one would intentionally purchase today, and have placed in their contemporary kitchen, right? Well, guess again. The desire and considerable expense put forth to own and install this venerable tool continues seemingly unabated to this day. Never mind that it also demands users recalibrate their preconceptions of everyday food preparation techniques.