Purpose: This paper aims to describe the nature and significance of Sorel’s cooking appliance and to examine the promotion and marketing options used by Sorel to make it an appliance that was “widely used in private residences and by small eating houses.” It will highlight the role of the individual and will demonstrate that marketing and promotion strategies that are modulated by the social ambitions of the manufacturer. Design/methodology/approach: The basis of this research is extensive quantitative and qualitative analysis of primary sources, mainly the advertisements placed by Sorel, supported by information in contemporary newspapers and journals. Findings: Stanislas Sorel’s invention of an early form of thermostat allowed him to develop a stove that could cook a four-course family dinner largely unsupervised, an invention which was poised to revolutionise the lives of many households. Sorel was primarily an inventor striving for acceptance in the scientific world, with limited skills in the commercialisation of his inventions. His promotion and marketing efforts reflect both the social realities of the time and his own ambitions. Originality/value: There has been very little research into the way small French inventors and manufacturers approached the marketing of their products. The paper provides a unique insight into the promotion techniques of a mid-nineteenth-century French inventor-cum-entrepreneur and highlights the role of the individual and how actions are constrained by ambition and opportunity. The paper provides an example of how research into how specific individuals can inform the larger history of marketing.