Christmas is known as the season of excess — and excess counter space, and judging by the proliferation of silly, useless and just plain dumb kitchen appliances that seem, like egg nog, only to appear on store shelves during the spendiest time of the year. Aunt Ethel might be a tough case on your holiday gift list, but as tempting as it may seem, keep those sawbucks in your pocket and just get her a box of candy instead of something that will clutter up her already cramped cabinets, leading her to curse your name for the next 12 months.
Turn the page for our top 10 dumbest kitchen gadgets — with suggestions for better options. Consider it a little holiday shopping intervention.
Could be replaced by: a corkscrew.
Is opening a bottle of wine ever this much of an emergency? Maybe if a bottle of vino helps your severe rheumatoid arthritis, or if you're tasked with opening hundreds of bottles per day, I-Love-Lucy-conveyor-belt style, this product might make sense. But the corkscrew that came with your Swiss Army knife will never inflict a dangerous, dead-battery induced crisis that this product seems eager to set you up for, leaving you sadly helpless and sober.
Could be replaced by: a pie pan.
Less useful than an Easy Bake oven but just as childish, this silicon muffin tin, repackaged as a “pie maker,” seems to promise a wonderland of magical mini-pies at your fingertips. Yet while the standard cupcake pan has a dozen cups, this only has four, making the dream of “perfect lil' pies, in just minutes” harder, not easier, to achieve. To open this gift is to stare into a yawning chasm of pieless melancholy.
Could be replaced by: two plastic bags.
Slushies for Christmas? What a chilling thought. But if you must — and come to think of it, an egg nog slushy doesn't sound that bad — you can achieve the same effect this overhyped plastic cup gives with two plastic Ziploc bags. Put your beverage in one bag, zip, and shake it in the second bag along with some ice and rock salt. For hand protection and an extra-wintry feel, wear mittens.
7. Omelet Maker
Could be replaced by: a pan.
The Omelet Maker is a classic one-task wonder, designed to accomplish what should be one of the simplest tasks in cooking. But it's also easy to screw up an omelet, and the culprit is typically impatience. Successful omelet-making requires one key factor: low heat. Just slow it down, egg buster, and you won't need this thing, regardless of what Sylvania wants you to believe. Omelet-making is a valuable skill, and one worth the time to cultivate. You can do it. You don't need plug-in training wheels. Just reach out with your inner self and cook those eggs.
Could be replaced by: a pan.
The racist stereotype of Mexicans as stupid and lazy is, like this appliance, a Gringo invention. If you can't figure out how to make tortillas and melted cheese taste good together without the help of this muy estúpido machine, then maybe you don't deserve a quesadilla.
Could be replaced by: Sterno.
If the nacho-cheesy heated dips depicted on this item's box are such a frequent staple of your diet that investment in this product is really warranted, it might be time to reassess, perhaps atoning with a New Year's resolution. Just sayin'.
Could be replaced by: a waffle iron and a knife.
Waffle iron. Knife. If you love waffles, you already have these things in your home. If you don't, then why bother? Essentially, the idea behind stick-shaped waffles is to be able to dunk them into a cup of syrup with your fingers, but if you also happen to own a fork, even this procedure is unnecessary.
Could be replaced by: a campfire.
Say, here's a terrific idea: let's take one of the most goofy-fun, best-loved, storied snack treats fondly remembered from family campouts and suck all of the romance out of it! Seriously, though, if you had a munchie spot only a s'more could fill, you could do this in a toaster oven or with a blowtorch. Don't reward the childhood joy-killers who built this factory of despair.
Could be replaced by: a knife. Or a food processor.
This unholy fusion of a weapon and an appliance rears its head reliably every gift-giving season, then slithers back into the dark shadows of the spiderhole from which it crept, never to be seen by human eyes until winter's bitter chill returns once more. God help those who think waving a set of razor sharp whirling blades freely around their kitchen on the end of an electric leash, to aim at whatever hapless creature or salad bowl crosses its path, is a sane idea.
Could be replaced by: common decency.
The original Crock Pot is already an item of dubious usefulness — you could accomplish the same effect with a far more versatile Dutch oven over a low flame, or inside the oven at 250 degrees or so. But to insist that “leftovers, soups, chili, and more” should percolate on your office desk throughout the workday, annoying, depressing or angering your fellow cubemates is just plain cruel. If you want to maintain workplace harmony, don't ever employ this Crock Pot's bastard child. Try to confine wafting food scents to the office microwave.
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