Anyone who loves to cook – from the most casual culinary hobbyists to Michelin-starred powerhouses – can rattle off their kitchen essentials: A sharp chef's knife? Check. A sturdy cutting board? Double Check. A Dial-A-Slice Apple Divider? You've got to be kidding. As our love for cooking has reached a fever pitch, so has demand for short-cuts and convenience in the kitchen. The result? Kitchen tools that literally do one thing. While we can't deny that we'd love to own all of them in our alternative universe dream kitchen — the four-in-one avocado tool, say — here are 10 products that prove perhaps we've gone too far.
10. Watermelon Knife
Sure, watermelon is a summer BBQ staple, but does it really need a special knife? Especially since the watermelon version is the equivalent of a large serrated knife, just dipped in red silicon for “smooth slicing and easy release.” Not to mention for $24.95, we'll stick the silicon-free one we've got.
The Garlic Zoom is like a tiny sports car for garlic. Throw a few cloves into the undeniably cute container, channel your inner child with a few back-and-forth vroom, vroom, vrooms and the garlic is presumably perfectly minced. The problem? Once the garlic is chopped, you're stuck attempting to remove said pieces from the interior, dodging sharp blades with either a butter knife or, worse, your finger.
This tool might make sense for a bartender or someone else stuck in citrus purgatory, forced to cut wedge after wedge of lemon or lime to stick into an expensive cocktail or next to a hunk of seared salmon. While it apparently “transforms citrus fruits into professional-looking cocktail garnishes,” if you don't cut off the ends of the fruit first, you're just in for smashed blades and mangled citrus chunks. And no one one wants that in their drink.
We have to admit, this tool seems magical. Pineapples can be scary to cut and core, especially with their spiky husks and woody center. Anyone who has ever bitten into the center of a pineapple knows it can take the experience from tropical to terrible. This contraption — similar to a wine bottle opener for pineapples — supposedly twists to peel, core and slice an entire pineapple. In seconds, no less. If you're feeling fancy, it leaves the entire shell intact. Just pour in mai-tai mix, add a few straws and you've got yourself a party.
This tool has not one, not two, not three, but four functions. A serrated knife cuts through the skin, an oval-shaped tip releases the pit, a scoop removes the flesh and a slotted steel masher transforms the goods into guacamole. And we have to admit; not only does it work, it works GREAT. You'll never risk hacking off your hand in an attempt to release an avocado pit again.
5. Pepper Corer
If you've ever cut a jalapeño, or God forbid, a habanero pepper with your bare hands and accidentally rubbed your eyes, then you know why this product is important. With a simple flick of the wrist, this tool removes the seeds and core from a pepper, never coming into contact with your hands. Because of that, we'll admit it's legit.
It seems the corn world is divided into two camps: those who prefer their corn on the cob, and those who, well, don't. If you're in the latter party, you can either use a knife to remove the kernels from your cob, or you can buy this specialized corn stripper. It has a container that catches the kernels as they fall off the cob, so you don't have to worry about them falling on… your plate?
At first we thought, “How cute, it actually looks like a strawberry!” Then we realized it also has a terrifying stainless steel, squid-like beak that launches an attack on the leaves and stem of the unsuspecting strawberry, leaving it feeling more than slightly violated. Unless you're stuffing strawberries with basil granita — The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey gets a pass — what's wrong with a simple paring knife?
We get it; it's hard to pit olives and cherries. But who really needs to pit olives and cherries? Isn't popping an olive into your mouth, rolling it around on your tongue and trying to get as much flesh from the pit as you can part of the fun? Same goes with cherries, and the act reminds us of childhood summer BBQs. If you can't handle the pit, maybe find another fruit.
1. Herb Cutters/Mincers/Rollers/Etc.
We have a four-way-tie for first place, and they all make the art of chopping fresh herbs much more complicated than it needs to be. Enter the Microplane Herb Mill, the Rikon Herb Chopper, Green Herb Snips and the Rolling Herb Mincer. We know there's many, many more herb contraptions where those came from, but we can't bring ourselves to point out more than four. God knows how much room these take up in kitchen drawers, when all one really needs is a cutting board and a sharp chef's knife. Sigh.
Christie Bishop also blogs for PardonMyCrumbs.com.