Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryConsumer Goods
Founded1971; 53 years ago (1971)
FounderCarl Sontheimer
ProductsCookware, ovenware, kitchen tools, kitchen accessories
ParentConair Corporation (1989-present)

Cuisinart (/ˈkwzɪnɑːrt/ kwee-zin-art) is an American kitchen appliance and cookware brand owned by Conair Corporation. Cuisinart was founded in 1971 by Carl Sontheimer and initially produced food processors, which were introduced at a food show in Chicago in 1973.[1] The name "Cuisinart" became synonymous with "food processor." The brand's name is a portmanteau of "cuisine" and "art." Cuisinart was purchased by Conair Corporation in 1989.[2]


Cuisinart was founded in 1971 by Carl Sontheimer, a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was inspired by his love of French food.[1] This led to the creation of Cuisinart and its main product, the food processor.[3] Cuisinart introduced its brand in January 1973 at a trade show in Chicago. The success of Cuisinart was limited at first, until a review in Gourmet magazine helped to lift sales.[1]

Throughout the mid-1970s, Cuisinart sales rose due to the brand's association with celebrity chefs such as James Beard, a close friend of Carl Sontheimer.[1] Cuisinart hired industrial designer Marc Harrison in the 1970s to design new products and improve other existing designs, many of the company's products became associated with universal design.[4] Harrison made its products more functional for users with disabilities, designing larger fonts so that people with vision problems could see them.[5]

By the mid-to-late 1980s, Cuisinart incurred financial troubles and suffered from falling sales. A group of investors bought Sontheimer's interest in the company in 1987 for $42 million. In August 1989, the company filed for bankruptcy.[6] This led to Conair buying the company for $27 million.[2]

Legal troubles with Robot-Coupe

In the late 1970s, a legal dispute between Robot-Coupe and Cuisinart began when Robot-Coupe stopped distributing Cuisinart products and released the products under their own name.[7] Robot-Coupe hired Alvin Fineman, Cuisinart's former marketing director in 1979,[7] who engaged in competitive advertisements that resulted in a lawsuit. Robot-Coupe was ordered to stop insinuating that Cuisinart sold products manufactured by Robot-Coupe.[6]


Products produced under the Cuisinart brand include:


  1. ^ a b c d Thomas, Robert McG. Jr. (March 26, 1998). "C. G. Sontheimer, Cuisinart Backer, Dies at 83". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Conair Buys Cuisinart Line". The New York Times. December 28, 1989. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  3. ^ Lewis, Vivian (July 31, 1977). "From France, the Cuisinart". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
  4. ^ Williamson, Bess (December 2012). "Getting a Grip: Disability in American Industrial Design of the Late Twentieth Century". Winterthur Portfolio. 46 (4): 213–236. doi:10.1086/669668. ISSN 0084-0416. S2CID 108978324.
  5. ^ Catanese, Lynn (2012). "Thomas Lamb, Marc Harrison, Richard Hollerith and the Origins of Universal Design". Journal of Design History. 25 (2): 206–217. doi:10.1093/jdh/eps013. JSTOR 41687795.
  6. ^ a b Kleinfield, N.R. (April 15, 1990). "How Cuisinart Lost Its Edge". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Blade Battle". Time. May 18, 1981. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved December 8, 2018.