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From The Library Of 'Life'

Infrared Turkey Cooker And Other Improbable Culinary Gadgets

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."