Tuesday, January 22

Five no-go gadgets

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The gadgets you don’t want in your kitchen

A friend asked me to write about the uselessness of the salad spinner.

Our salad spinner does a pretty good job of drying greens, and it’s excellent for getting sand out of bok choy (cut bok choy in half and place in bowl, fill with water, put it through its paces in a deep sink).

This did get me thinking: What gadgets wouldn’t I use? Here are my top five.

1 The Eggstractor

People in infomercials are thwarted by tasks that most of us manage with minimal fuss, like taking a meatloaf out of the pan.

Eggstractor people are in a class by themselves. Faced with peeling a hard-boiled egg, they are unable to keep from mauling the egg into a post-apocalyptic ruin of shells, white and yolk.

For these people, there is the Eggstractor, which doesn’t work but will at least not send egg shrapnel hurtling. It will cost you $15 (about R206), two dozen hard-boiled eggs, and the hour you spend trying to make the gadget work as it does on TV. (Note: It will never work as it does on TV.)

Target market: People living in infomercial world, people who have vowed never to remove their oven mitts.

2 The pancake bot

You can upload an image, say of a Tyrannosaurus rex, and it will make a pancake out of your picture. Works as promised.

Not promised, but also true: The production time for a single pancake rivals that of the Chevy Cruze. Even my gadget-loving brain baulked at spending 10 minutes to turn out a single T.rex pancake.

Target market: Single people who never entertain, find it tedious to sweep up piles of unused money in their home, and love dinosaurs.

Instead, use a pancake mould, or make a normal round pancake and say it’s a representation of Pluto.

3 Multi-choppers

I used to own one because the lure is irresistible: perfect dicing, every time. It does dice vegetables into evenly sized bits, as advertised. What is not advertised is that getting an onion through the grates requires such force that I called my husband to do the job.

By the time you’ve taken it out of the cupboard, inserted the correct blade, and forced your vegetable through, you realise it would have been easier to take a knife out of the block, or drop the veg into the food processor.

Target market: Body-builders with poor knife skills.

4 The pancake machine

Are you daunted by dumping dry pancake mix into a bowl, adding liquid and eggs, and pouring the result on to your griddle? The pancake machine is for you. Reviews suggest this device is a fail on every level: it automates a task that does not require automation; the automation doesn’t work unless a human intervenes with a scraper to keep the dry mix from sticking to the sides; it breaks easily; and, like most devices with trigger/spout mechanisms, it is a pain to clean.

Target market: People looking for a gift for someone they don’t like.

5 Vertical egg cookers

Have you ever thought: “I wish my scrambled eggs looked like a long, eyeless worm?” No? I wouldn’t imagine that anyone might have.

I cannot improve upon this review from The Guardian: “This week’s gadget describes itself as ‘a new way to prepare eggs’, which is accurate in the way that chopping off your legs could be described as a new way to lose weight.”

Target market: People with elaborate and troubling fantasy lives, people who need to mock up alien parasites for their small-budget film.

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