At the peak of the housing crisis and ensuing financial crisis, these five-figure fridges became curbside monuments to conspicuous spending. Don't blame Madison, Wis.-based Sub-Zero, though, as they used that questionable spending to keep 1,000 workers at plants in Madison, Phoenix, Ariz., and Richmond, Ky., employed through the whole mess. Also, it's not as if the company's founders sat in a college dorm one weekend and said "Hey, let's make oversized refrigerators for the nouveau riche." Founder Westye Bakke's invented the world's first free-standing freezer in the basement of his home in Madison in 1943. Two years later, he started Sub-Zero and led it to design premium, built-in refrigerators for the next 70 years. Not surprisingly, Sub-Zero bought cooking equipment manufacturer Wolf back in 2000. If Americans have seen Sub-Zero fridges up for auction at the neighbor's foreclosed McMansion, chances are an eight-burner Wolf stove was up for bid in the next lot.
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