Pot Luck

Anti-American Gadget Bashing

When Katharine Shilcutt took on useless kitchen appliances, I responded with my own list of useful kitchen appliances that foodies make fun of. Then she came up with a list of useless kitchen gadgets. Not surprisingly, I have almost every one of them.

One of the useless gadgets she mentioned was the flavor injector, that thing that looks like a hypodermic needle that you use to shoot up your meat with spices. If you think brining works just as well, you're wrong. You can't get the brine deep into the breast meat of a turkey just by soaking. Ask somebody who makes Cajun fried turkeys. While you're at it, ask a few barbecue cook-off competitors if an injection of garlic butter ever won them a pork, chicken or brisket trophy.

And as for the apple corer-peeler, I don't personally have one of these things, but I know from my interest in antique kitchen equipment that it is one of the oldest gadgets around and has long been considered an example of American ingenuity. It was invented in 1864 by David Harvey Goodell, who once sold 24,000 of his gadgets in a single month. Goodell went on to become governor of New Hampshire.

I am also reminded of Joe Ades, the English guy in the nice suit who got rich selling $5 vegetable peelers on the street in New York. I saw him at the Union Square Farmer's Market one time. The guy was amazing.

I am not going to counter Shilcutt's list with my own list of useful kitchen equipment this time -- even though my own drawers are overlowing with them. Instead, I just want to point out that we are in the middle of a recession. If every American would just go out and buy an espresso machine, or a three-speed blender, or an Oxo wine opener, we might jumpstart this recovery.

And if Americans ever stop wasting their money on marginally useful but amusing kitchen gadgets, the terrorists will have won.

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Robb Walsh
Contact: Robb Walsh