Yes, I'm guilty. I have purchased kitchen gadgets thinking that any one of them in particular would be a huge time saver and be a miracle of convenience and efficiency. My life was going to be transformed in the kitchen, I would be able to make so much more with my time, creating stellar dishes with fantastic garnishes and be the envy of my family and friends who would wonder how I did it!?!
So let's start with strawberries right off the bat because I'm wondering how many people absolutely need these gadgets to do what one perfectly good knife can do just as quickly, probably even quicker, in accomplished hands. First we have the gizmo to pick out that pesky leafy stuff on the top of the berry. Next there's the nesting one size fits all strawberries slicer. What if you bought berries on steroids? Will they fit in that thing? Lastly, for those who liked that salad shooter contraption, do it with strawberries.
OK, so if you've ever succumbed to any of those HSN kitchen gadget shows, or long before that, late night TV infomercials, you've probably seen Ron Popeil. The man is a legend! Come on, you know you've heard of that spray can hair stuff... Well, that's not a kitchen product of course, but the Chop-o-Matic is and I had something similar for a while that I bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond - a Zyliss food chopper. That Zyliss chopper was pretty much a copy of what Ron had invented and sold years before.
A couple summers ago, I picked up a book by Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, and one of the stories was "The Pitchman", from the October 2000 edition of The New Yorker. It's a fascinating history that starts with the men who hawked inventions along the Jersey shore that were meant to make household work easier. Ron's father was one of the originals but Ron took it to a whole new level using the medium of TV. Ron's story is really remarkable, especially the telling of the night at QVC when he was selling his Showtime rotisseries. I'll leave it at that because I don't want to spoil the ending. But back to busting on goofy gadgets!
Anyway, as much as I like a good story, I like gadgets that work and aren't redundant to something that could do the job just fine otherwise. That pretty much means that I've gotten rid of my Zyliss chopper and don't intend to buy anything like it in the future. I've learned through a few cooking classes that good quality knives go a long way toward doing many things that about 5 gadgets do separately. It was amusing to read this recent article about culinary inventors and "half-a**ed kitchen contraptions". If you have any garlic peelers, crushers, etc., then you should definitely check out one of my previous posts about peeling garlic, it's rather amazing and works and takes zero gadgets! Mostly, when it comes to gadgets, who the heck has a kitchen, let alone a galley on a boat, to store all of them? My last word is that nothing, nothing beats a great knife and when my current set finally dies, which may be never, I will replace them with these. Global. The best. Oh wait, one thing does beat a good knife.