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Pointless or Silly Kitchen Gadgets - and the Ones That Worked for You. [Moved from General Topics]

Whereas:
I am a victim of the dreaded affliction known as "insomnia," I am quite frequently up at bizzare hours of night, and whereas:
I find it impossible to be awake without turning on one of the dreaded blue-light boxes, I am therefore:
Bombarded by choice with all manner of, IMO, pointless and ridonkeylous kitchen "helpers," to wit:
last night's viewing of a "hot dog slicer." It may or may not have had some sort of catchy name, but what it was, was.....a hot dog slicer. Marvelous little contraption along the lines of an egg slicer, only built to accomodate long cylindrical objects, but not dense stuff like carrots. Ok, I can even get behind an egg-slicer, for consistency in cuts for garnishing, but....hot dogs?
Really? Are hot dogs now such an important plat garni that they must be perfectly sliced? And is it THAT hard to pull out a sharp knife, or a butterknife, for that matter, and just slice happily away?
I think I forgot to mention that one can also use this terrific invention to slice bananas, since perfect, evenly-sliced bananas are paramount to one's enjoyment of his or her breakfast cereal. Oh, and Jello-molds. It's critical that those jelled bananas be perfect. (Again - a knife?)
The salad shooter always annoyed me, but this market-driven POS plastic kitchen necessity downright irritates me, and yep, there's a huge difference. The first, I can still laugh; by the time irritation sets in I'm done laughing. But, the lack of sleep may have to do with that; I'm willing to consider the possibility.
Anyone else seen any incredibly helpful necessary (NOT!) kitchen helpers recently?
Don't get me started on the Pepper Ball. (and no, I did not buy it for myself...)

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  1. I find even the aforementioned egg slicer nutso. I bought one, and on its maiden voyage into the sea of my menu, used it to cut a plain ole' white button mushroom. BOIIING--the metal wire broke on contact. Silly contraptions are now verboten.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pine time

      I have an egg slicer and use it all the time. Although, I mostly use it for button mushrooms and it hasn't broken even though it's 6 years old, so that's a main difference. Mushrooms are probably my favorite food, and I go through a few pounds a week, so the slicer makes me a happy girl. I use it for eggs and strawberries as well, though those are much more rarely.

      1. re: pine time

        The egg slicers are intended to cut eggs, not mushrooms or strawberries. Both are denser than eggs. I had someone from a restaurant want to return one, "honest it just broke". It was stained with strawberry juice. Chef Henry brand gadgets sells a multi-bladed knife, labeled a pickle slicer, but it is intended for doing strawberry fans too. It works very well.

        I have a giant over sized egg type slicer. It is intended for soft cheeses. I bought it and used it a few times. Then, one day I was making some rather elegant sandwich cookies, vanilla spice, filled with Frank Coopers rough cut marmalade, sandwiched and dipped on one side in dark chocolate. I was being quite anal about this and I wanted them to be exactly the same. Light went on! That over sized slicer. It worked beautifully. All the cookies were the same thickness and size. It also cut the work load down.

        I have an insomniacs unite board on FB. Someone reported that when she quit taking anti-depressants the insomnia went away. I tried it, I sleep well about 90% of the time. Just saying. i guess since you swallow them it is not totally OT.

        1. re: Candy

          The packaging on the egg slicer said it worked also on mushrooms and strawberries, so I took 'em at their word. Good to hear that it works for you, but I won't be buying another one. slicing mushrooms isn't much of a task in my kitchen.

      2. Yeah, I know what you mean about late night TV which is almost synonomous with "pointless gadgets" sometimes. I was almost suckered in by two products. One was an herb chopper and the second a pan contraption that enabled you to cook an entire meal in a single pan, arranged with multiple levels and racks. The herb chopper was later gifted to me by my sister; I used it a couple of times and never thought the end result was easier or better than a knife. The pan was very highly praised by a friend of mine who claimed to be able to make chicken, rice and steamed veggies all at once in a single pan. Not needing another experimental space hog, I exercised great self control and didn't bite.

        Even though it seems stupid, I do like and use my cherry/olive pitter.

        7 Replies
        1. re: tcamp

          tcamp, I don't think those are pointless gadgets. Pits are a pain in the ass to remove. That being said? If you pass them through a funnel (snug fit), the pits will pop right out and leave the flesh behind. (Edit) Did the herb chopper look anything like one of those nut choppers?

          1. re: mamachef

            Great tip for using the funnel to pit. When I google nut chopper I see the hand crank type whereas the herb thing was like this:

            http://www.amazon.com/Pampered-Chef-C...

            1. re: tcamp

              Yep, that's pretty much the same thing, only I've seen them with a clear glass canister as opposed to all the plastic. Oh man, don't even get me started on PC, products, either....another awesome excuse to spend $$ on single-use "inventions...."

              1. re: mamachef

                My previous rommmate had one of those, and swore by it. Other than wacking the snot out of onions for something in which I didn't care if they were totally uniform (like meatloaf) I found it useless. It took longer to assemble, use, dissasemble, and clean, than it would to just use a knife.

                1. re: Ditdah

                  Exactly.

                  1. re: Ditdah

                    and THAT is why knife skills are so important.

              2. re: mamachef

                I like the OXO pitter for cherries, olives etc. It is a bit funnel shaped and accommodates different sizes.

                I have an herb chopper from Microplane. It works very well.

                Another gadget I bought last year after finding some really good strawberries (not those nasty Driscoll red things). I was planning to make preserves. It is a strawberry huller and corer. I had a quart hulled and cored in about 15 mins. It is made by Chef'n. If you see obe and do much with strawberries, buy it.

            2. While I don't know if this counts as "gadget," my favorite non-standard kitchen item is my microplane. Although on this site I'm sure those are fairly standard... But many people that I know personally don't have them, and I couldn't live without it!

              I think the silliest one I've ever seen is those hunks of stainless steel they sell labeled as "garlic odor removers." Really? You expect me to pay for a stainless steel 'rock' just to rub on my hands and remove garlic smells?! I don't mind whatever garlic smell I may have remaining on my hands after washing them... but even if I did, I could just rub them on a stainless steel bowl! (Assuming that stainless steel thing even works.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ditdah

                Oh, the microplane's essential in these here parts, Ditdah. You're right though; a lot of my less cooking-obssesed friends don't have or use them.
                The stainless steel method does work very well, but I've heard that it works better for some than others. I wouldn't pay a red cent for the convenient appliance you described though, considering my faucet and sink just happen to be made of stainless steel. Works ever' time, just rub hands all over it and be amazed at the alchemy of it all.

              2. I have a heavy duty egg slicer that's worked for years on most small items and I use it often but pointless gadgets that I've never understood would include: honey dippers, pump dispensers for food (you'd need another useless gadget to keep the pump clean), the latest craze in citrus squeezers, cheese knife, 90% of the gadgets sold at BBB or WS.

                3 Replies
                1. re: HillJ

                  Testify, HillJ.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    One year we got a beehive... that year i got 3 honey dippers! i've never used even one of them..

                    1. re: rmarisco

                      You make my point beautifully, rmarisco!

                  2. I couldn't get along without the multi-pronged thingie that lets me hold an onion for slicing or even a small ham. I don't push it very far into what I'm slicing so I have plenty of room to put a knife between the prongs. Easy to clean and has saved me many a cut finger. But my most treasured kitchen thing is a fork that came to me through my grandmother...steel color, but think it has some sort of stained stainless finished. Very thin and sharp tongs. I also like those rubber(?) things you put on your fingers to lift hot pans (used instead of a bulky potholder).

                    1. What is wrong with pepper ball? It looks like a pepper grinder for one hand usage. In term of silly kitchen gadgets, there are so many. I say "Slap Chop" is certainly a big one.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Call me an ol-fashioned kinda gal, but I like a good ol-fashioned pepper grinder. I've had a Peugot since 1979 that's still going strong and the wood grain gets prettier the more it's handled. I can control the grind, and it's (clearly) tops in terms of durability. Whereas the pepper ball I was gifted couldn't be set to change the grind and what it did turn out tended to be clumpy. Maybe it was the ball; maybe it was the pepper; maybe I just didn't squeeze the handles together correctly :) though I'm pretty sure that's not it. At any rate, it broke on the fourth or fifth use, and I wasn't a bit sorry and didn't consider replacing it. And the Slap Chop's another sublimely ridicuous gadget.

                        1. re: mamachef

                          <but I like a good ol-fashioned pepper grinder.>

                          Same here, but I see the pepper ball as something easy to use with one hand. Some time ago, there was a CHOWHOUND poster who were looking for a one-handed pepper grinder due to physical limitation, so I can see a pepper ball being potentially useful. However, if it broke in 4-5 usage, then it is no good.

                          Slap Chop is just silly to me because the unit is so small. You have to first prep the vegetables into the size which fit the Slap Chop in order to use. Look here, the carrot and the celery have already been cut to a size to fit in the Slap Chop:

                          http://youtu.be/rUbWjIKxrrs?t=19s

                          So why would I take my kitchen knife out and prep my vegetables to just that size but stop going all the way to the size I desire? There is very little control of the actual finished products. The cleaning look like a pain too.

                      2. I could probably find a lot in my kitchen but today i am nominating my herb snipping scissors - they are a pair of scissors with about 4 blades. they are supposed to "chop" herbs so you can just snip a bit of parsley over a dish and be done. They are quite useless - a regular pair of scissors works just as well. yet another $10 stocking stuffer that didn't work...

                        1. Egg slicers, strawberry corers, weird chocolates specific mixers, goofier ice cream makers. I'm okay with most of them because they give my kid a chance to have a little fun in the kitchen.

                          Yeah they take up drawer and shelf space but it's fun to see someone else having fun. I still don't understand the value of a dried spaghetti sliding measurer though. YMMV.