Recently, two American bloggers noticed the uniqueness of the Bulgarian refrigerator. It’s about time I address this cultural peculiarity.

Bulgarians never buy fridges. A fridge is given to them as a wedding present from the bride’s father or the groom’s uncle. Since then, the young family sticks with the same fridge forever.

They take it to the new home and to every consecutive apartment they have. They fix it when it breaks down. There is no such thing as a fridge beyond repair.

In the rare cases when a new fridge appears (because it came for free with the kitchen in a new apartment or because they won it in the lottery), the old one gets passed onto a relative or taken to summer house.

Why?

Well, what’s in a fridge? As long as it can keep a constant low temperature, has a lamp that turns on when you open the door, and does not leak, then it’s fine! True, our fridges don’t have fancy ice machines (we have ice cubes in a freezer) and water purifiers (we have sinks and brita pitchers, or bottled water); but I guess we just don’t care about fancy fridges. We’d rather think about fancy cars!

Our 30-year old fridge with magnets from different trips. It's still as good as a Swiss watch!

In case you ask, we have plenty of yoghurt, cheese, wine, olives, pesto sauce, wine, a watermelon, tomatoes, liutenitza...

This beast you see here is our fridge. My father both it in 1982 from Corecom for $320. During the Communist regime, Corecom was a store in Sofia that used only foreign currency and not the national lev. Therefore, the Western goods in it were pretty much unaffordable for most Bulgarians. Only foreign diplomats, the nomenklatura, and a small group of people such as scientists and flight attendants who were authorized to travel abroad could purchase goods there. This meant that people who were not authorized to have US dollars but were seen shopping at Corecom became subject of investigation.

Corecom offered special goods that were not available anywhere else: imported alcohol, foods, and tobacco, electronics, cosmetics, clothing, toys, books, magazines, etc.. “Corecom eggs”, for example, was the way Bulgarians called Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, which at the time were only available at the exclusive store.

In conclusion, when visiting a Bulgarian club, try the pick-up like “So, what’s the story of your fridge?” I’d be curious to find out if anyone has any success.