A mixer is a kitchen appliance intended for mixing, folding, beating, and whipping food ingredients. Mixers come in two major variations, hand mixers and stand mixers.
A hand mixer, as the name implies, is a hand-held mixing device. The modern electrically powered type consists of a handle mounted over a large enclosure containing the motor, which drives one or two beaters. The beaters are immersed in the food to be mixed. A simpler manually-operated type, which preceded electric mixers and is still used today, consists of a handle with a hand-operated crank on the side, geared to two beaters. The handle is held with one hand and the crank is turned with the other, turning the beaters.
A stand mixer is essentially the same as a hand mixer, but is mounted on a stand which bears the weight of the device. Stand mixers are larger and have more powerful motors than their hand-held counterparts. They generally have a special bowl that is locked in place while the mixer is operating. Heavy duty commercial models can have bowl capacities in excess of 100 quarts (95 L), but more typical home and commercial models are equipped with bowls of around 4 quarts (4 L). A typical home stand mixer will include a wire whip for whipping creams and egg whites; a flat beater for mixing batters; and a dough hook for kneading.
In 1870, Turner Williams of Providence, R.I., invented the first hand egg beater. U.S. Patent 103,811 The first electric mixer was invented by Herbert Johnston in 1908 and sold by the KitchenAid division of the Hobart Manufacturing Company.
Older models of mixers originally listed each speed by name of operation (ex: Beat-Whip would be high speed if it is a 3-speed mixer); they are now listed by number.
Mixers should not be confused with blenders. Blenders contain sharp blades and typically operate at higher speeds that chop, liquefy, or otherwise break down larger food items. A mixer is a much slower device without sharpened blades.