Runner Beans

July 26, 2011

Estate Sale Find #1: Vintage Cuisinart Food Processor

Cuisinart 1

Vintage. Thrifted. These are buzzwords on fashion and design blogs, and until recently, I wasn’t really feeling it. Vintage dresses, jewelry or furniture—they just didn’t feel like me. Two Saturdays ago, though, Sam and I found ourselves in a neighborhood estate sale, and that’s where I discovered a niche in the vintage scene I connect with: kitchen equipment.

Cuisinart 4

Cuisinart 5

One of the treasures we snatched up was an early model Cuisinart Food Processor.The first thing that grabbed our attention about the Cuisinart was the seven blades that came with it. (Did you catch that? Seven blades!) Nowadays the standard Cuisinart comes with three blades, though you can purchase additional blades for $40 apiece. With blades this costly, you might be wondering how much we paid. A mere $20.

I know what you’re thinking—did it work? Yep, it sure did. Figuring out how to turn the food processor on, though, proved a challenge: there was no on-off button. A quick Google search revealed that the earliest Cuisinarts are turned on by locking the lid into place. I plugged in the Cuisinart and slowly clicked the lid into place, all the while suppressing images of Cuisinart accidents due to user error.  Whirr! The food processor worked. And there had been no accident. Clicking the lid into place might not be the safest on-off method, but the makers would address this in later models.

Cuisinart 3

The Google search also shed some light on this particular model: it is definitely one of the earliest models (if not the first model) and was made in France by Robot-Coupe, a renowned kitchen appliance maker. Cuisinart eventually broke ties with Robot-Coupe and moved production to Asia. The quality of the French-made product is evident: after 30 years of use, it can still whip up a mean batch of roasted tomato salsa.

Cuisinart 6

As the gentleman holding the sale handed us his Cuisinart, he paused and said, “Now, I want to tell you a story about this Cuisinart.” Here’s how it goes: he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and his mother used to watch this cooking show on Public Television with this chef named Julia Child. Toward the end of the show, Julia Child started using this new machine called a food processor. They didn’t carry food processors in Cleveland yet (and there was no back then), so the gentleman’s mother special-ordered two—one for herself and one for her son. And this is the Cuisinart that found itself into our hands, a tool well-loved and its purchase inspired by Julia Child. As the gentleman gave us his heirloom, I felt like we were on Antique Roadshow and had just been told our treasure was worth $1 million.  But this wasn’t something we’d be selling; it was something we’d use in our kitchen, remembering its history. Not bad for a first vintage purchase.

Cuisinart 2


  1. OK, I admit, I am jealous. You guys found a real treasure. Impress me with those blades sometime.

    Comment by Mom — July 26, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  2. Wow, I’ve never seen that model. My machine is just 3 or 4 years older, from 1977 or 78 and has an on button and an off/pulse button. I have all the blades and also one of the supposedly new and improved feed tubes they came out with later, but I like the original one best. You will probably get many good years out of your machine, mine is still running strong, although I cracked the bowl, probably trying to grate parm pieces that weren’t cut small enough. The machine came with a lifetime warranty and a few years ago, even though it’s not the same company, they honored it by sending me a new bowl. However, they made me relinquish the paper with the warranty written on it, lol.

    Congratulations on a great find and buy. I enjoy reading your blog, I subscribe. Nan

    Comment by Nan — July 28, 2011 @ 8:15 am

    • I wanted to add that I looked at the bottom of my Cuisinart, it was made in Japan. Nan

      Comment by Nan — July 28, 2011 @ 8:19 am

    • And I meant to say, my machine is a 3-4 year NEWER version, not older. sorry about that.

      Comment by Nan — July 28, 2011 @ 11:56 am

      • Thanks so much for sharing about your Cuisinart, Nan! I could barely find any info on it online, so it’s interesting to know that yours has an on/off button and was made in Japan even though it’s just a few years newer (totally knew what you meant when you said “older,” ha ha!). Too bad you had to give up your warranty, but you’re right, that’s really nice that they still honored it and sent you a new bowl. And I’m so glad you enjoy reading my blog and subscribe! Happy Cooking!

        Comment by andrealein — July 28, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

  3. You do have one of the first Cuisinart machines. I have a CFP-9A, which was the first one with an on/off switch on the right hand slide of the machine – a small black on/off switch. Looking at the pictures you show, yours looks like it needs some new foot pads. You can order them and other parts, like new blades, from Click on Food Processor parts, then select the machine. The CFP-9 and CFP9A looks just like your machine except for the 9A has the switch on the side and this website has the feet that will fit a CFP9. These replacement feet will fit your machine too. I received my CFP-9A as a wedding gift in 1978 and still use it several times a week preparing meals. This machine was made by Robot Coupe and they make motors that will not wear out. Cuisinart didn’t start making machines in Japan until 1980. I worked as a buyer for a major department store that sold Cuisinart products. I got one of the ones made in Japan in 1980 that was a 11 cup. I’ve had 3 Cusinart food processors over the years. I still have the one received as a wedding present in 1978, and the 21 cup machine I purchased in 1990 (made in Japan). I burned up the motor on the 11 cup machine after 20 years of use. Yes, I cooked a lot!

    Comment by Ann — September 7, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

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