The Great British Baking Gear

Great British Baking Show Refrigerators

August 20, 2021

TLDR: The Great British Baking Show refrigerators have been the Smeg, Gorenje, and Servis retro refrigerators.

What The Bakers Use

Smeg FAB30 series (not available on Amazon)

If it were not for the anti-product placement rules on the BBC this blog may not exist. The refrigerators oddly enough highlight exactly why. The anti-product placement rules make the show cover a lot of the names of the equipment on the show. This makes identifying things sometimes quite difficult, and thus, this blog a fun challenge!

On the first few seasons of The Great British Baking Show they used Smeg retro refrigerators. These refrigerators were obvious, and had a huge 'SMEG' logo on the front of them. Well the show got in trouble in 2012 and had to replace them. Since then they used a Gorenje retro refrigerator followed by a Servis retro refrigerator. All of these refrigerators have roughly the same features. First - their look, they go for a 1950's vibe, come in some fun retro-pop or pastel colors, and they're all refrigerator-freezer combos with the freezer on top.

Unfortunately, the Gorenje and Servis refrigerators have been discontinued. So we'll look at them first and then take a deep dive into the Smeg retro refrigerators.

Servis was a fairly popular brand from the 1920s to 2008 when it went under. The brand name was purchased in 2011 and relaunched in 2012 by the Turkish Manufacturer Vestel which started branding appliances with it. The Servis website has gone the way of the dodo and Vestel does not sell the retro refrigerators anymore.

The Servis refrigerators (model TR60170C - discontinued) were featured on the last few season of The Great British Baking Show. The retro fridge came in 4 different colors and was Energy Star rated. It had a couple niceties, the coolest probably being a chrome wine rack in the refrigerator. Though if you're going to have a wine refrigerator, chances are you're going to have a stand alone one that keeps temperatures steady for red and white wines.

The Gorenje refrigerators (discontinued) were featured after the Smeg fiasco. They had a very similar look to the Smeg refrigerators, the major difference being a lip above the freezer door. Where the entire front of the Smeg freezer / refrigerator would open, the Gorenje had a stationary piece above the freezer door. Personally I was not a fan of it.

The Great British Baking Show refrigerators made by Gorenje were discontinued. However, Gorenje replaced them with a similar model. The Gorenje ONRK193C freezer refrigerator has the refrigerator and freezer sections switched. So if you're a fan of the retro look, but like the freezer on the bottom - this may be a good choice for you. The ONRK193 series has a A+++ energy rating, comes in 6 colors and retails for roughly 1300 € ($1,500), however finding a retailer in the US is difficult.

The original retro refrigerators on The Great British Baking Show were the Smeg FAB30 series. In my opinion they're still the best and Smeg is doing some cool stuff with them (there are some other brands we'll look at later).

Whats the Smeg Story?

Smeg was formed in 1948 in Guastalla, in Emilia Romagna, Italy. They have always focused on making home appliances with an emphasis on both style and energy efficiency. I'm a fan of both those facets!

When The Great British Baking Show (Bake Off) first started they reached out to Smeg asking for them to lend the show refrigerators. Smeg was happy to comply and almost every shot in every episode had their refrigerators in the background with their prominent logo for all to see. This did not bode well with the no-product placement rules on the BBC and the next refrigerators had to be purchased and sans logo. However, the damage incredible marketing had already been done and the refrigerators' popularity soared.

The Smeg refrigerators featured on The Great British Baking Show are the the Smeg FAB30 series, where the model is differentiated with an R or L for right or left hand open and then a color code. These refrigerator/freezers have a 72 Liter freezer and 222 Liter refrigerator (2.5 & 7.8 cubic feet) and come in some amazing colors. However, I'm disappointed to see that the energy efficiency rating on these is a D - on any scale that is no good. However, they do look awesome.

Additionally Smeg has a whole line of 50's style refrigerators in all sorts of awesome patterns from various collaborations, such as Dolce & Gabbana, and Disney. Most of these are not the refrigerator/freezer combos, but just refrigerators. They also bare A++ energy ratings - the difference in ratings perplexes me!

If you're keen on picking one of these refrigerators(/freezers) up you're in luck, they retail almost everywhere. Westelm, Crate and Barrel, and Williams Sonoma carry them. Smeg also provides a nice tool for finding showrooms. However, you're going to find the Smeg refrigerators cost roughly $2,000 to $3,400 depending on the model.

Smeg 28RDMM5 Series - Disney Collaboration (Not available on Amazon)

What about other retro refrigerators?

Galanz 10.0 Cu Ft Retro Top Mount Refrigerator - $499 (Amazon Link)

So I thought it would be cool to get a retro refrigerator and throw it in my garage to hand out cold beverages to the delivery people and various other workers around my neighborhood. So I started looking into actually procuring one. And honestly I don't think I'm going to go with Smeg for a couple reasons. First the cost, if this was going to be my primary freezer/refrigerator in my kitchen, an absolute workhorse, sure - I'd be willing to spring upwards of the $3,400. However, it is not. Additionally, the D energy rating on the freezer/refrigerator combo is not cool. Pun... intended!

So what to do? Well there are actually two other pretty groovy (that's a retro word right?) options out there.

The first is the Galanz 10.0 Cu Ft Retro Top Mount Refrigerator (Amazon Link) (~$500-620 depending on color). The 10 cubic feet fridge I've linked to, in red is $499 with free prime shipping (free Prime trial)! Galanz is a Chinese brand, and has been around for a LONG time in China, thousands... or at least 10s of years, so they have some manufacturing credibility. This fridge comes in 4 different colors, various volumes 7.4 to 12 cubic feet, but also has some energy issues. It will use 312 kWh / year, compared to the Smeg's 168 kWh / year. However, between $500 and $640 its not a bad deal. They also have smaller mini-retro fridges (2.5 to 4.4 cubic ft - 70 to 124 Liters) for any where from $200 to $500. If you're just looking for fun fridge for holding drinks - this could be a decent option.

Another option is the Frigidaire red retro refrigerator with top freezer (Amazon Link). This is another similar looking retro refrigerator, but costs roughly $400. It is slightly smaller at 7.5 cubic feet (212 Liters), and has plastic shelves. This feels like a get-what-you-pay-for scenario. It claims to only use 20 kWh / year, which is ... just no. I don't believe that. But for $409 its not bad if you're looking for a cute red retro refrigerator.

Ultimately it comes down to what you're looking for, and how much you're willing to pay for a fun retro refrigerator. If it is going to be your primary refrigerator, it's probably a good idea to pay a bit more for the Smeg. Why? Quality, I have a feeling it will last a LOT longer than the cheaper Chinese made refrigerators. The materials and finishes are going to be nicer, and the feel of it will be more sturdy. It can also come in some really fun designs. If you're just looking to throw something in your garage and store some drinks for friends, you can probably get away with the Galanz or Frigidaire refrigerators just fine.