Naxon's wife Fern might've been the first working mother to use the slow cooker, then called the Naxon Beanery. But pretty soon, working women all over America were discovering the new appliance. Although Lenore notes that Irving had sold the Naxon Beanery through the Sears catalog and to diners ("they would use it for their daily soup and chili") on his own, it reached the mass market in 1971. By that point, Irving had retired and sold his business and many patents to The Rival Company. The company decided to debut the Naxon Beanery first, only they didn't like the name, so it was rechristened the Crock-Pot. It was aimed at busy wives and mothers from the start.
"When it was introduced, things were changing for a lot of people in that era," says Paula Johnson, a curator at the National Museum of American History. "This was an appliance that allowed you to produce a real meal for yourself and your family, while you were doing something else. People were already gravitating towards convenience, but this was different. You still had a sense that you were making something."
Consider this newspaper ad from 1975, which closes its pitch with, "Perfect for working women, on-the-goers!" Or this one from 1974, which calls it a "working woman's dream." Or this one from 1975, which promises a gizmo that "cooks all day while the cook's away." Variations on this theme would appear in Rival ads throughout the decade. It was so thoroughly a part of the sales pitch that by 1987, Roxanne Whittenburg, the manager of the Rival Home Economics Department in Kansas City, would tell The Los Angeles Times, "The working woman, like myself, no longer has to feel guilty about not being in the kitchen all day because she can prepare a meal the night before or in the morning and not have to worry about it during the day."