Most of the ideas behind current and past kitchen appliances that somehow missed the mark were sound ideas. Often they were just incomplete, or they failed to truly solve a problem. Today, we can look back at some of those appliances and giggle, but they offer a current lesson, too.
That lesson is to consider what the appliance truly accomplishes. Identify the problem – such as too much cleanup, too much time to prepare – and see if the appliance truly solves the problem or just adds to it. Here are some examples from the past.
Vertical Bacon Cooker
This was a good idea, but it created more trouble than it solved. The cook draped bacon over a vertical cooking unit that was positioned over a drip tray. Most of the grease popped to the sides of the cooking unit rather than all over the top of the stove, which was the intention. Cleaning the unit, however, was a nightmare. Cleaning the unit took far longer than cleaning a skillet and a stovetop.
Nu Tone® Built In Food Center
This was a high end good idea of the 1950s that failed to produce satisfactory results. A power unit attached to the bottom of a kitchen counter, requiring custom installation that included cutting out a section of the kitchen counter. The unit had a point of attachment and a power control. There were mixing bowl, blender, juicer, meat grinder, knife sharpener and other attachments, all of which had to be stored somewhere. Most 1950s kitchens had very little storage space. The result was that the kitchen served the appliance instead of the appliance serving the owner.
Oster Food Center
The Oster food center was a 1970s adaptation of the food center of the 1950s. This one used a central power unit too, but one that was portable and could be taken off the counter. It had too much power for some applications, and far too little for others. The end result was that all applications were rather mediocre.
This appliance illustrates the concept of “unintended results.” Compacting trash to make a smaller package and to reduce the number of trips to an outside trash receptacle is a good idea, but it has two immediate problems. One is that it requires specialized bags to withstand the added weight and pressure. The other is that it requires someone with significant muscle strength to remove the trash from the machine and then get it moved out.
The countertop dishwasher appears to be a good idea for someone living alone. Using it ends up requiring far more time than would be required to simply wash dishes and leave them to air dry, however. The dishwasher accommodates only place settings, and is unfriendly to cups and glasses. Though it happily will wash plates and silverware, it leaves all of the rest for its person to do.
Automatic Potato Peeler
This was a hand cranked appliance that bolted to the countertop. It was highly efficient in ridding a potato – a perfect, blemish-free potato – of its peel, but it also eliminated much of the inside of the potato as well. All of those potatoes that were not perfect in shape and size still had to be peeled by hand.
This was another good idea that virtually no one wanted to clean after using. Just large enough to accommodate two chickens or a small turkey, the food results were good but the cleaning requirements quickly negated all of the food benefit gained.
Electric Egg Poacher
Surely, this is a contender for the title of most useless kitchen appliance. It takes a simple, relatively mess-free process and turns it into an ordeal that takes more than twice the time and a number of pieces and parts of the appliance. All of those pieces must be cleaned afterward, too.
Electric Sandwich Grill
Hailing from the days when a sandwich shop would place weights on bread to flatten it to a nearly unrecognizable thickness, a variety of home sandwich grills began appearing in the 1950s. Again, cleaning was the real issue.
Electric Muffin Iron
Here we have a pan that can produce a dozen muffins but cannot be immersed for washing and takes an immense amount of counter space. Similar to a waffle iron in its operation, there seems to be no justifiable reason for the muffin iron’s existence.
“New” is not always better. Many product developers fail to address all issues – such as cleaning and practicality – so shoppers must. An appropriate question is, “Does this item solve a problem or create one?”
10 Of The Worst Kitchen Appliances Ever Made was compiled for Cliq Studios, provayers of fine quality kitchen cabinets. Check out the recent additions to their extensive offerings including oak and maple cabinets wood species.