Saturday, May 2, 2015

Silly Kitchen Gadgets

Whenever I enter a cookware store, I am blown away by the number of silly kitchen gadgets out there. Any task has its own special gadget these days, never mind that a few multi-purpose tools could do the job more efficiently. Judging from the array of unnecessary products out there, these companies must believe that American cooks are a bunch of bumbling idiots. I am here to say that your kitchen is valuable real estate. Don't devote your precious counter space, or your time and money, to silly products that do only one thing.

Topping my list is the banana slicer. You didn't know there was such a thing? Yes, with a deep sigh and a roll of the eyes, I will tell you about the banana slicer. What does it do? It slices bananas. You might think a knife would work for that, but apparently not:

Next up is the Vegetable Chopper. Again, a knife works just fine for cutting and chopping, folks. The funny thing about the various choppers out there is that you have to cut most veggies into pieces first anyway, so they can fit in the chopper to be chopped.

A cousin of the banana slicer is the Corn Kernel remover. The one pictured here is aptly named the Corn Kerneler. Wow, they got really imaginative when they thought of that name.

People liked the George Foreman grill so much that now we have the George Foreman Quesadilla Maker. Seriously? You're going to devote valuable counter space to this? Or worse, have to drag it out from the cabinet when you want to make a quesadilla?  Any frying pan or griddle will do great job instead. 

In some cases, a newfangled gadget or special pan is not only unnecessary, but it actually makes a WORSE product. As a baker, my personal pet peeve is The Whoopie Pie pan. This pan looks like a cookie sheet with circular indentations in it like so:

First of all, why do we need to complicate the Whoopie Pie? It is so easy and delicious the way it is, no special equipment needed. Just use a (multi-purpose) cookie sheet, scoop on your whoopie pie batter (thick cake batter so it holds its shape without spreading). Bake them and Voila! You have little cakes that are perfect for sandwiching with a billowy filling - Domed on top and totally flat on the underside, which is what a whoopie pie should look like. The whoopie pie pan is leading to some strange looking whoopie pies. Take a look:


                                                              Traditional whoopie pie

                                   Alien whoopie pie made with a whoopie pie pan

Once in a while, a single-use gadget comes along that is pretty clever and useful. But more often than not, that special pan or ultra-specific tool is just a waste of money, counter space, and extra time to clean.