The Casting Dock

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty. I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore.

Does anyone else ever think we overdue it with the kitchen gadgets and gizmos?

I mean, sure, I love a good, efficient kitchen appliance and have a drawer full of shiny, mostly-one-purpose utensils just like everyone else–the apple corer, the garlic press, the potato masher…you get the point. Truthfully, I hardly ever use 90% of the things in that drawer but somewhere along the way (when I was clicking away with the registry gun…) I thought they were all so clever and clearly needed. But in reality, I prefer to slice my own apple, I use pre-minced garlic, and I make mashed potatoes about 5x/year.

I do of course have those kitcheny things that I just couldn’t live without–those rare jewels that are simple, yet remarkably functional–my daily GO-TOs:

1. The flathead spoon is by far the single best cooking utensil I own. The flat head is genius for anything in a pan.

2. Although I wouldn’t consider my coffee palette particularly refined, I am a snob about brewing french press coffee. It just tastes better. Fuller. More well-rounded. Snob. (I told you.)

3. The cheese grater. Oh, the cheese grater. I am a bigtime sucker for fresh grated parmesan and pecorino. I put them on basically everything…which means I use this thing all the time. It’s the perfect grater.

So yeah, clearly I have my favorites. Functional, well-rounded items. But it seems like for every functional kitchen appliance/utensil, there are seriously about 27 crappy, unnecessary, overly specialized ones ubiquitously marketed as “must-haves.”

A few exhibits to make my point. STRONGLY.

Can we no longer use a pizza slicer…or dare I say, a knife, to cut a slice of pizza? And are we so incapable of picking up said slice that we need a little “sidecar” to scoop up the piece? The silliest part of this gadget, to me, is the fact that it’s so narrowly designed that it literally could only be used for pizza.

Because the grill, the microwave, the oven, and a pot of water on the stove aren’t enough options, spend 50 bucks on a hot dog maker. And who in the world makes enough hot dogs to need a separate appliance specifically for them?

Don’t cold cuts already come in bags? Evidently insufficient ones. If they’re going bad, either buy less or eat more. Problem solved.

Call me crazy, but I am skeptical of these potato peeling gloves. I’m willing to be converted on this one (send in your success stories!) but my standard potato peeler has never done me wrong–no need to tamper with a good thing.

Ahhh, we have come to the most eggregious offender…My mom swears this thing “really makes a difference” but I just couldn’t disagree more. How hard is it to crack an egg? And don’t give me this, It can be hard to separate the yoke from the whites nonsense. Lame. It is not. I have two hands (or even one hand for that matter) and something to bang it on; I’ll crack my own egg, thank you very much, and I’ll put that 15 bucks towards my Greece trip…

Look, I’m all about efficiency and capitalism and creativity and entrepreneurship and all those other great spirit-of-America words, but what I’m not about is overly-specialized “novel” inventions created to do tasks that we were already accomplishing both effectively and efficiently. I call that useless. And that’s what these are to me.

Objections? Anyone? Let me have it.


1 Craig W { 01.26.11 at 9:59 am }

First, you gotta go easy on the Debbie Meyer Cold Cut Bags. Because … you know … AS SEEN ON TV.

I’ve heard that Sears Roebuck’s stellar success that spanned so many decades was based on this principle: we don’t *serve* the market with our products, we *create* the market for our products. So, one of these little inventions may give rise to the next enormous retailer. I’m goin’ with Pizza-scissors-and-sidecar. Wal-Mart beware.

2 Maggy { 01.26.11 at 11:48 am }

Hear hear! I got a bacon genie in my stocking (note: not from my family… this is an in-law free zone?) and was dumbfounded. Google it, be amused. I’ll donate it as your first Casting Dock give away, yes?!??

3 Rhonda { 01.26.11 at 1:49 pm }

I must confess that I have never seen any of the products advertised on your Utensil Wall of Shame and was quite surprised by them. Kudos to the inventors who used their imagination and entrepreneur spirit to create items in our free enterprise culture. The beauty of consumerism is that each individual can decide what trinkets they need to fulfill the demands of their personal kitchens. For me, a knife (that cuts most of the time), a cutting board, measuring devices and a few large wooden spoons is sufficient. Does that reveal my lack of extensive cooking??

4 Lindsey { 01.26.11 at 6:36 pm }

Love this post! And I couldn’t agree more – those gadgets are such a waste of money! Wait until you enter the world of baby items that you “must have”…it’s ridiculous how many things there are out there that they tell you you won’t be able to live without! (ex: a wipe warmer – seriously?!?!)

5 noche { 01.27.11 at 4:30 am }

CORRECTION: Lisa’s Mom obviously misunderstood when talking with her about useless kitchen gadgets. That egg cracking gadget is ABSURD.

I have been known to use a simple, little gadget called an egg separator when making cheesecake that requires many egg whites and egg yolks. The said gadget sits on a cup or bowl and when you crack (using your hands!!) an egg into it the white part goes into the cup and the yolk stays in the separator….fast, easy and most importantly easy to store.

6 Terri { 01.27.11 at 7:47 am }

I have never owned a flathead spoon or a french press, I am so far behind the times…

7 Emily { 01.27.11 at 12:12 pm }

The pizza cutter is by FAR the, “best”. I genuinely think that would be more difficult than using a traditional pizza cutter wheel. Honestly, i just use my bug chef’s knife!

8 Meema { 01.29.11 at 11:58 am }

and where do we store this “lovely” pizza cutter????

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