When Did Microwaves Become Popular in UK?

It is important to consider the other factors involved when asking the question ‘when did microwaves become popular in UK?’ People are usually going to use microwaves for the sake of heating up ready meals. As such, the widespread adoption of microwaves in the United Kingdom was related to the widespread adoption of ready meals, along with the rising popularity of freezers.

Freezers and ready meals more or less epitomized life in the 1950’s and the 1960’s in the United States. These trends took longer to take shape in the United Kingdom. The trend towards owning microwaves also took a bit longer to get going. During the 1960’s in the United Kingdom, owning a microwave was so rare that the few owners would have to stage demonstrations on how to use them.

Ready Meals

Domestic freezers became the norm in the United Kingdom during the late 1960’s and throughout the early 1970’s. Ready meals also became more popular during this time, and the two trends more or less influenced one another. More women were entering the workplace, and it became more important to find ways to save time when it came to domestic chores. Divorce was also becoming more socially acceptable in the United Kingdom, and men that had relied on their wives or mothers to cook for them for their entire lives found it easier to just adopt a substitute in the form of frozen ready meals. Some people became impressed by the idea of getting a high-quality meal in seconds, since ready meals were once associated with technological achievement.

During the mid-1970’s to early 1980’s, frozen food became extremely popular in the United Kingdom. Microwaves became popular during roughly the same time period. Smaller microwave ovens were gradually developed throughout the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Soon, people were using them in restaurants and other industries, making it easier for people to adopt the habit of microwave ownership. Pinpointing the exact date in which the ownership of a microwave oven became completely mainstream in the United Kingdom is difficult, but 1975 seems to be an important turning point.

By the late 1980’s, the idea that microwaves were unusual or that people wouldn’t know how they worked would have seemed very quaint to many people living in the United Kingdom. It should be noted that in the United Kingdom, the ownership of very small refrigerators and freezers was more common than the ownership of the large refrigerators and freezers that people will still see all the time in the United States. People use microwaves to heat up frozen food more than almost anything else, so the trends that relate to frozen food are going to influence the ownership of microwave ovens.


Today, there has been a bit of a backlash against frozen food and ready meals, and this started in the 1990’s. Microwave ovens have a lot of traction in the United Kingdom by this point, so people still have their microwaves even if they are no longer using them for the sake of heating up frozen food. Microwaves are still here to stay today.

Also read: How Do Microwaves Work?

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