Now that I’ve spent some time abroad, America’s obsession with frivolous kitchen technology seems even more absurd that it did before. Granted, I live a more hassle-free lifestyle than most people – no kids, lots of dining out, few belongings. But even accounting for my own relative bohemianism, I’ve come to believe that Americans are almost more attached to the actual gadgets than to what the gadgets even do. It becomes a race to acquire things that supposedly make life easier, and I question how many of these small kitchen appliances really do that in the long run.
I have two main goals here, depending on what you already own. If you have some of these items in your kitchen, my goal is to get you to question why you have them and whether they’re really necessary. If you don’t have these items but are considering purchasing them, my goal is to give you pause and encourage you think before spending money and cluttering your kitchen with something that you may not need.
Certain people really do use these small kitchen appliances regularly, but lots of people who enthusiastically purchase them on a whim do NOT use them with any consistency. That’s why they frequently appear at yard sales and on the shelves or thrift stores – or just piled in the back of a rarely-opened cabinet. Consider this as food for thought.
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Popcorn Maker
With 20-odd brands of microwave popcorn and even stove-top Jiffy Pop (which IS still available), do you really need a whole additional appliance for an occasional snack food? Buying kernels, filling the machine with oil, dealing with butter, and cleaning this mo-fo contraption = not worth it.
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Iced Tea Machine
Tea is one of the easiest things in the world to make. You take some teabags and add them to a pitcher (which you probably already have) with hot water and let the mixture steep for a period of time before you remove the bags and refrigerate the tea. What about that process is so complicated that it requires a machine?
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Ice Cream Maker
Chances are you use this so infrequently that you’re better off buying the occasional pint of Haagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s, which is likely to be far tastier anyway. And if you don’t like either of those brands, then visit your grocer’s freezer or your favourite ice cream stand.
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Electric Can Opener
Unless you’ve got arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, an electric can opener is just an extra gadget unfairly putting its manual sibling out of business. This device isn’t necessarily one that owners don’t use, but I’d argue that it’s one they just don’t need. It’s an extra cord on the counter and some extra bucks some appliance maker’s pocket.
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Bread Maker
I love the scent and taste of warm, out-of-the-oven bread too, but this is yet another thing that most people buy and only use several times. They convince themselves with good intentions that they’re going to wake up to fresh bread in the morning, and they do so for about two weeks before this ends up hidden in the back of a cupboard the same way a kid discards a Christmas toy by mid-January. Just go to the local bakery and let the pros do it!
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Toaster Oven
Unless you’re using it as a replacement for your toaster, a toaster oven is usually redundant: you presumably have a toaster, and you presumably have an oven. Why the less practical hybrid? People sometimes say that they don’t want to fire up the “big oven” for something small, and while I hear that argument, I don’t think it holds weight when the alternative is a whole new appliance. Any pennies you save on energy you lose by spending more at Target!
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Deep Fryer
As if there’s not enough fried food available in public, you want to dunk the fries, cheese sticks, and jalapeno poppers into the hot oil yourself? I once received a deep fryer as a gift and found it to be a pain in the butt. Even if you use it frequently (which, for health reasons, you probably shouldn’t do), you’ve got to dispose of the oil every so often. I’d say…just hit up a fast food place when you need your fix.
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Snow Cone Maker / Ice Shaver
$25 for something that shaves ice for the very occasional snow cone? I think a trip to 7-11 a few times a summer is probably more efficient, unless you host your pre-teen’s soccer team every three days. The snow cone maker is yet another impulsively bought small appliance.
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Pizza Oven
Add this to the list of redundant small kitchen appliances. If you can’t bake a decent pizza in your regular oven, I’d recommend ordering from Domino’s, Pizza Hut, or any other delivery chain.
Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need: The Hot Dog Roller
Target actually sells several models of hot dog rotisseries with bun warmers. The problem here is that you’re spending $50 or more on a device that’s intended for one of the cheapest food products around. I’d rather take the money and buy real meat!