Spring Cleaning My Gadgets
By Lois Hoffman
It’s that time of year to think about spring cleaning again. This year the task will be a little more intense as I tackle something that has gotten clear out of hand. Most of us have a “stuff” drawer in the kitchen for things like tape, scissors, a screw driver, needle and thread, and whatever else doesn’t fit anywhere else. Then, most of us have a drawer for gadgets, you know, the cheese slicer, pizza cutter, ice cream scoop, etc.
Today I attempted to open the gadget drawer for my rolling pin, and it wouldn’t budge. After some pushing and prying and a few choice words, I eventually won and the drawer lost this battle. That is when I decided “no more.”
The problem is those TV ads that promise the latest gadget is the latest, greatest invention and that there is no way we can survive in our kitchens any longer unless we own one of whatever it is. Sorry to say, I have been suckered in like so many others. But wait, if I acted in the next few minutes (which I usually did), I would get two for the price of one and only pay the additional shipping. How could I resist!
Of course, I would always order the two because I could always give one to my best friend and she would be forever grateful. Uhh, probably not! However, after I used my greatest and latest, I discovered just how much I didn’t need it, and so the extra one, along with the one I just tried, ended up in the gadget drawer. Multiply this example by ten or so, and I had so many gadgets that they outgrew my gadget drawer. So, I would stick one in with the pots and pans, another one in the lid drawer, etc.
This is how I got to where I am today. Something has to give. I am spending more time looking for the gadgets in the drawer than actually using them to perform the task for which they were intended. Not only that, most of them are harder to clean up than if I would have just done the task the old-fashioned way. Case in point, the eggstractor egg peeler. By the time I got it out, put the egg in and cleaned it up, I could have not only peeled a dozen eggs, but also had the deviled eggs made.
Did I really need my pepper prepper? It takes the top off the pepper and pulls out the ball of seeds inside. A knife does the trick in less time. Those commercials convinced me that I needed a pickle picker too, you know because you can never grab a dill or a gherkin out of the jar. This has tongs on the end that clasp down over the pickle and pull it out. It reminds me of those easy grabbers or pick sticks that folks use to pick up trash. A fork works just great.
Perhaps the best way that the ad people convince us that we need a new kitchen gadget is to apply electronics to it. You know those chocolate fountains where you can dip strawberries and banana slices in at many wedding receptions? Well, they have home models that run anywhere from $20 to over $100. Even worse than spending money on this gadget, is the fact that most of them get clogged up, don’t work and after the few times that they do work, they become your worst cleaning nightmare.
How about that electric meat tumbler? You put your seasonings and meat in the tumbler and it will marinate your meat for you. Here again, after you haul it out, get it ready to use and clean up afterwards, you will find that a Ziploc bag does the same thing for a lot less money, a lot less prep time, and whole lot less clean up.
Just as bad are the concept gadgets which are tools for specific purposes. They generally get used once before they are ditched in the back of the drawer to collect dust and use space. In this class are the no-point knives (so you don’t poke yourself), the miniature hand-held circular saw for cutting pizza, the banana slicer (so each slice is evenly cut), and the list goes on.
The really ironic one is the customizable drawer organizer so you can find the gadgets that you will never use again. Well,at least they will be organized. Probably not in my case though, because I am always in a hurry and would probably just throw the gadgets back in the drawer on top of the organizer.
In a recent survey, it was estimated that people spend $1000 a year on stuff that they will hardly ever use, and things that will end up just taking up space. However, to be fair, I have to admit that once in a while, once in a great while, there is a gadget or two that comes along that really does make life easier.
The adjustable rolling pin is one such item. You adjust it for whatever thickness is desired and it ensures that the dough is all uniform. I don’t use this so much for pie crusts, but it is great when making cookies that need rolled out. So, this is one gadget that got saved from the gadget graveyard because it does have usefulness for something else.
I think this whole revolving mess gets started because the infomercials convince us that each new gadget will help simplify our lives. In this complicated world, we all want a little simplicity, and so we are caught up in the sales pitch.
I think I have found a way to keep from being tempted when I see another gadget advertised that I just cannot live without. After going through my kitchen and de-gadgeting, I am keeping the pickle picker and placing it beside my credit card with a note on it that reads, “Really??”
Perhaps I do need to make one more purchase though. I have such a pile of gadgets that I need a gadget tote to carry all the gadgets to the recycling!
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