Right next door to the Island of Misfit Toys is the Island of Misfit Appliances. It's filled with all of those stupid single-use appliances that seem so cool and so must-haveable at first glance, but which eventually get pushed aside to clutter cabinets and countertops before finally being abandoned to rummage sales and landfills. Join me on a tour of local thrift shops as we find and mock some of these ridiculous items...
...Like this toaster oven, for example. It's not really a toaster oven. It's a hot dog cooker. Using the rollers at the top, up to four hot dogs can be cooked while warming up four hot dog rolls underneath.
Although I'm sure that there will be wiener-eaters out there rushing to it's defense, this is ultimately one of the dumbest of the single-use appliances I've seen. It takes up over 1½ square feet of counter space for the sole purpose of cooking four hot dogs - something you can easily do with a small skillet or, if you prefer steamed dogs, with the steamer basket you've probably already got in your cupboard. And it goes without saying that if you've got a family, there's no way this thing is going to be big enough to make dogs for all.
On the other hand, maybe the wiener oven isn't quite the dumbest appliance after all, when compared to this one. The Pancake Factory is a clamshell waffle-iron type of device with only one function: to make a matching pair of pancakes. Yes, I'm sure you'd much rather have a Pancake Factory than a skillet and a spatula.
Here is one of the most derided small appliances ever made: The Presto Salad Shooter. I bought one of these at a tag sale for a dollar a few years ago, thinking it might make it easier to slice vast amounts of cucumbers for making pickles, but it didn't really save any time or effort. Many of the items you might want to slice or grate with the Salad Shooter aren't the right size to fit effortlessly through the feed chute, and some sliceable stuff shouldn't be run through it at all (it makes a mess of bananas, tomatoes and onions for example.) Additionally, stuff tends to get cockeyed in the feed tube, making the slices unevenly oblong as they hit the rotating slicer drums. After farting around with it for several sessions (I was trying to give it an honest trial) I pitched the damn thing into a donation box and went back to slicing veggies by hand. Seriously, if you have a cutting board and a knife there's no reason to own a Salad Shooter. (If you do decide that you need one, be patient and haunt rummage and tag sales in your area. I see them all the time for five bucks or less there, and they usually aren't more than $10 at thrift stores like Saver's, Goodwill, or Salvation Army. Still not too bad considering that they run $35 and up new.
Electric skillets are wonderfully versatile in the kitchen. They're great for pot roasts and other long-simmering dishes when you don't want to tie up a burner on the stove. And because they can hold a constant, steady temperature they can be used for deep frying too. When I was a kid, my mom always packed the electric skillet and brought it along on vacation, because she could use it in the motel room to make pancakes or eggs for breakfast.
And then there's the Toastmaster Brunch Pan, a 9-inch electric saute pan big enough to cook a single omelet or grilled cheese sandwich. I see them occasionally at thrift store, but apparently, most people realized that they had an actual cooktop and 9-inch skillet in their kitchen already
, because the Brunch Pan is no longer being made.
|Photo by Amazon|
I have a confession to make. I own a Presto Tater Twister. It's only good for one thing: spiral cutting potatoes into either ribbon fries, curly fries, or thin potato straws. Most of the time it sits quietly in the kitchen closet, but every now and then we bring it out and make a batch of curly fries.
So, tell me - do you have a ridiculous single use appliance lurking in your cupboards?