An Oven Made From a Blockbuster Drop Box

The following story came in from Luca Varaschini (by way of David Sasaki) who was born and raised in Robertsport, Liberia where his father was a doctor. He now lives in Milan, Italy, but was in Robertsport a couple weeks ago for the first time since he left as a child.

During my first week back in Liberia I had been invited to Hawa’s birthday party, on Sembehun Beach, not far for Robertsport, so I passed some time with the ladies while they were preparing western-style food for everyone: rice, beef stake, pasta and potato salad. Then they started stirring what would have to be two cakes for the dessert, and I started wondering how they’d be able to bake them, since the only cooking apparels in the big warehouse were these coal pits on the ground.

They showed me the oven, a big metal cabinet against the far wall; looks like a refrigerator on legs, to allow a coal pit to fit under the bottom, but when I get near it, I see it’s a Blockbuster Quick Drop Booth! The front, where the slit had been closed, faces the wall and the back door is to access the oven; inside are several fridge trays, on which they lay the pans. The door is then locked with a simple bolt and sealed all around with wet cloths.

The cake was fabulous.

[Editor’s note: I’m find myself incredibly curious trying to figure out where they found this… How did a Blockbuster drop box get to Liberia?]

Author: Erik Hersman

Erik is the owner of White African, a blog about technology and Africa. He is the co-founder of Zangu, a new web and mobile phone application that he hopes will change communication in Africa. AfriGadget is another web project of his, not that he doesn't have enough of those already...

14 thoughts on “An Oven Made From a Blockbuster Drop Box”

  1. I wonder if Blockbuster still uses these drop boxes. Since BB adopted the netflix model of ordering on the internet and mailing them to their customers, they probably don’t need many (if any) of these boxes. I love this ingenuity – how can official aid support it?

  2. I am amazed at the inventiveness and talent of Liberian cooks/bakers. They can accomplish amazing culinary feats with the most basic tools and “appliances”. Old, re-purposed refrigerators are also used for ovens that turn out delicious baked goods. There are welders in Monrovia who specialize in re-purposing frig, old stoves, any metal box will do apparently, for that purpose.

  3. Many American industries will pay to have their trash dumped overseas if they are doing enough dumping at once to fill the shipping containers. This is because landfill space has become so expensive. My money says this is a remnant of a major remodel of several Blockbusters that was eventually put to better use. Blockbuster would be prudent to try & get some public green spin from this, sponsoring some development like a well or small business loans in the town to encourage others to make new life of wastefulness/recyclables. Somebody pass this article to a wise Blockbuster marketing VP!

  4. You can even use a baril with a little dorr in the middle and set in horizontal. A hole in the top with a little pipe is used to give a way to the smoke.

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