Some very good cooks have railed against single-use kitchen gadgets, claiming they’re a waste of money and kitchen space. Well, I am not a very good cook, and I adore single-use kitchen gadgets. I own a weird little box that chops my onions. I am obsessed with my garlic mincer. I have a knife just for cutting lettuce.
But my true love is appliances. I am a sucker for anything that claims to make the perfect [insert-whatever-food-here]. I think I truly believe the fancy marketing that says the appliance will change my life. Some of them have. Others… not so much. Allow me to introduce you to a few of them.
The hot dog roller was the first gift I ever bought for my now-husband. I have no idea why I made this choice, but it ended up being a good one. We used that thing constantly for five years. It was quick to set up, simple to clean, and was especially fantastic for when we had a crowd coming over and needed something easy to feed them. The rollers may conjure up thoughts of gas station food, but to be honest, I always found those Mapco hot dogs really satisfying, at least until I became vegetarian. Fortunately, the hot dog roller cooks veggie dogs just as well. Conclusion: if lots of processed meat is your thing, the hot dog roller is a good investment.
Our sno-cone machine adventure started out as a $30 impulse purchase at Wal-mart, but after doing some research, my husband returned it and ordered one nearly ten times that much. I was dubious because who needs a fancy sno-cone machine? (Apparently, he has some unresolved issues about never getting that Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker he asked for every Christmas as a child!) But it turned out to be a great, fun appliance that was worth its weight in “Awesome Aunt and Uncle” points. It went to every one of our nieces’ birthday parties (until the girls got too cool to have us at their birthday parties.) Sno-cone syrup is cheap and comes in a billion flavors. Most summers, the machine lives on the counter, providing a quick, cool treat that we only occasionally add vodka to. Conclusion: worth it in the summer, kind of annoying to store in the winter.
The SodaStream was going to be the ticket to breaking my Diet Coke addiction. Who needs expensive, artificially flavored caffeine broth when you can have crisp, delicious Memphis tap water carbonated to perfection and spritzed with fresh fruit juice?
Me. It’s me. I need that caffeine broth. As much as I love the idea of sipping lemon water like I’m in a stock photo, it just never did it for me and neither did any of the available “cola” flavors. While the novelty of making my own soda was fun at first, the high-pitched squeal it made as it carbonated the water and my anxiety that the CO2 tank would spontaneously explode were enough to send this one to the back of the cabinet. Conclusion: sorry, Soda Stream, I'm just not that into you.
Everyone loves ice cream, and yet we have not used our Ice Cream Maker once. Since we got it at Christmas. Three years ago. Why do we still have it? I have no idea. Ask my husband. He won't let me get rid of it. I like appliances that only do one thing but not appliances that sit in their boxes and take up my cabinet space. Conclusion: I can't imagine that the ice cream would live up to three years of anticipation. Pass me the Ben & Jerry's.
The Gourmet Egg Cooker is an appliance I never use (because I don't like boiled eggs,) but my husband uses it once or twice a week. Why doesn’t he use a pot of water? He says: “Because the egg cooler is brainless. You just put water in, put the eggs in, and it’ll automatically let you know when it’s done. Do it on the stove, and you have to time it and watch it. It can make soft-boiled eggs. I can’t make a soft-boiled egg on the stove. It’s convenient. Plus it looks cool.” There you have it, folks. Conclusion: It makes him happy, and it does kind of look cool. A+.
The Sandwich Maker is probably the dumbest-sounding one because what part of sandwich making could possibly require an entire appliance? It’s less effort to use a skillet, as the sandwich maker is bulkier and harder to clean. And yet, I love a grilled cheese made on this thing. Something about the way it seals the edges and makes them all crisp. There's also a nostalgia factor because we had one when I was growing up (yep, this sandwich maker has a generational legacy.) I’m told it also makes an excellent puff pastry, but I only ever used it for grilled cheese and omelets. Because, embarrassingly enough, a machine designed to make sandwiches does a better omelet than me. Conclusion: I got rid of mine in an aggressive bout of decluttering, and I totally regret it. 10/10 will buy again.
The Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Pizza Oven: I have saved the best for last. This one might be a bit of a cheat because although the primary function of the Pizzazz is pizza, it’s not limited to that. I first came across the Pizzazz when I was about three months pregnant and constantly starving. The pizza on the box was a supreme, which I don't eat, but it looked delicious anyway. I told my husband, "I want this!" I meant the pizza, so I was surprised to unwrap the Pizzazz a few weeks later on Christmas. We tried to make cookies on it that night, but the instructions were complicated and the results only so-so. I figured for how little we ate frozen pizza and for how much real estate in the kitchen this thing took up, it wouldn’t be long before it was buried in the closet just waiting to get thrown out.
Then something magical happened. I discovered almost everything I usually make in the oven could be made more easily on the Pizzaz. Short on time? Chicken nuggets, 18 minutes, no pre-heating. Two things need to cook at different temperatures? No problem, put one in the oven and one on the Pizzazz. You can even make s'mores on it! I use the Pizzazz at least five times a week. I use it more than my microwave. It's incredible. Conclusion: If I had to choose between the Pizzazz Pizza Oven and my actual oven, I'd choose the Pizzazz. Then I could use the oven to store the ice cream maker.