Originally known as the Guardian Frigerator Company, Frigidaire was founded in 1916 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The name was changed to Frigidaire in 1919 when General Motors founder, William C. Durant invested himself in the company. General Motors held ownership of the Frigidaire brand until 1980, when it was acquired by White Consolidated Industries, the parent company to Westinghouse Appliances. In 1986, Frigidaire became part of Electrolux.
Frigidaire made history when inventors Nathaniel B. Wales and Alfred Mellowes created the world's first self-contained refrigerator for the company in 1916. Refrigerators up until that time had actually been iceboxes with a refrigeration compartment. The drawback to this innovation was that Mellowesâ€™s refrigerator took over a week to construct one unit--a costly handicap which sent the company into bankruptcy. It was the acquisition by General Motors that the company gained the resources to efficiently put the machines into mass production. Within the following decade, Frigidaireâ€™s refrigerators evolved from wooden cabinets to insulated steel appliances with temperature controls.
In the fall of 1940, Frigidaire won its first military contract with the United States armed forces, producing essential parts for tanks, automobiles, and aircraft as well as artillery used in World War II. During its military contract, Frigidaire had halted its refrigerator production, but was able to resume in full force in 1943. Quickly gaining in market popularity, the brand name itself became synonymous with "refrigerator" for many older generations, much like how cotton swabs are commonly referred to as "Q-tips".
While Whirlpool is still its parent company, the Frigidaire brand is a direct branch of Electrolux. As a result, many Electrolux and Kenmore refrigerators use Frigidaire water filters in their refrigerators.