By Olivia Putnal
Whether they were received as a wedding gift or purchased after viewing a rather convincing infomercial, we've got a pretty wild collection of gadgets designed to help us in the kitchen. Of course, there are always new innovations hitting the shelves, so WD set out to discover some of the more frivolous inventions on the market-some unbelievably expensive, others just plain silly. From a battery-operated fork that twirls pasta for you to an apparatus that reshapes boiled eggs into squares, check out some of the craziest culinary contraptions available.
The Pop-Up Hot Dog Cooker
Few of us cook enough hot dogs to make the investment in this toaster worth it. Granted, The Pop-Up Hot Dog Cooker does heat your frankfurter and bun at the same time, but for the $50 price tag, you may be better off putting the money toward a conventional toaster oven that can cook all sorts of things-versus just one type of meal. In addition to being yet another appliance to add to your spring-cleaning checklist, The Pop-Up Hot Dog Cooker also takes up some much-needed counter space.
Milk, Juice and Soda Carton Holder
If you don't suffer from arthritis and aren't under the age of five, how difficult is it to maneuver a 2-liter soda bottle or milk carton? Not very, which makes the $8 Milk, Juice and Soda Carton Holder seem kind of unnecessary. Taking up more space in the fridge than a standard bottle, this carton holder fits around large drink containers, providing a handle to assist with pouring. Of course, if you want something that makes it easier to serve frosty beverages, a pitcher would also do the trick.
Not only is this Electric Knife obnoxiously loud, it produces the same results as manually cutting the meat with a regular knife. While the back-and-forth cutting motion can put a little stress on your arms or hands, if you ask us, the Electric Knife is a little bit over the top. Though it only costs you $20, it will take longer to clean all of the pieces of this gadget than to actually sit down and cut meat the old-fashioned way.
We have to say, the Toothpick Man is definitely not a necessity for your kitchen, but the idea of it does make us giggle a little. After one quick lift of the plastic cover, what appears to be a mini-man pops up, lifting a toothpick above his head for you to use. However, at $40, it is just as easy to pick the toothpick straight out of the cardboard box it came in-rather than reach for this little guy.
Switch Me Salt and Pepper Shaker
Yes, we know how disappointing it is when you accidentally add pepper to a dish when you meant to add salt-we just aren't convinced that the Switch Me Salt & Pepper Shaker is the answer. This simple-looking device allows you to change which seasoning you are shaking onto your food with an easy flip of the switch. Though it's not available for purchase yet, we think it's safe to assume the design-centric kitchen item won't be replacing basic shakers anytime soon.
Among the slew of crazy egg gadgets, the Egg Cuber remains the most useless of them all. (However, The Egg Cracker and this rather disturbing-looking Peter Petrie Egg Separator aren't too far behind.) Featured on an episode of Rachael Ray, the Egg Cuber is recommended for changing a standard oval-shaped egg into a square one. Which prompts us to ask, "Why would you want to do this?" If anything, the $3 contraption makes eggs look a little less appetizing.
Temperature-Controlled Butter Dish
Apparently a normal plate or butter dish just doesn't do the trick for consumers who buy into this contraption. This Temperature Controlled Butter Dish (a.k.a. the Butter Wizard) claims that with one flip of a switch, your stick of butter will be the perfect temperature for spreading-not too hot, not too cold-every time. There's even a dial so you can set the temperature to match the texture you desire. But for $50, we would rather buy a traditional ceramic butter dish and spend the leftover moola on something else.
Twirling Spaghetti Fork
Maybe it's just us, but the whole concept of using a battery-operated fork to twirl our spaghetti seems a little strange. The Twirling Spaghetti Fork mechanically winds pasta noodles around the metal forked end of the apparatus so that you don't have to do it yourself. Seriously? We know it can be a little much juggling the fork and spoon combo, however, once you've got the technique down, it's a no-brainer. And, at $10.45 a piece, the price seems a little high for a utensil that requires two AAA batteries to run-not to mention how unsafe it must feel to eat off something that is electronic.
Here at WD, we love avocados as much as the next girl, but paying $11 for an Avocado Slicer that, realistically, can only be used for this one type of food doesn't seem very economical. Although the idea might seem innovative (who doesn't like immaculate slices of avocados?), the meat of this green fruit is typically very soft and easy to cut with a regular knife-requiring very little effort to enjoy.
If you consider yourself somewhat of a gourmet cook, this might be the thing for you, but most of us just aren't that concerned about removing the skin and nubs on an asparagus stalk. After you use this $7 Asparagus Peeler, the vegetable is supposed to cook more evenly, making it more tender. But even for us non-foodies, asparagus is already pretty simple to cook without all the fuss of individually peeling each stalk. Besides, if need be, the stems can easily be removed with your hands.
Granted, it can often be hard to judge the appropriate amount of pasta to cook, but that's part of the fun, isn't it? According to Joseph Joseph, the makers of the Spaghetti Measure, this instrument is an "adjustable portion guide" for measuring out one to four servings of noodles. The device operates like a camera's aperture; you slide the pasta in the opening and use the lever to measure the desired amount. Though it's only $8.50, we think it's a little more trouble than it's worth.
Roll 'n Pour
We aren't sure if this is pure laziness or what, but the plastic Roll 'n Pour is meant to make pouring liquids from a gallon, half-gallon or two-liter bottle easier by letting it smoothly tilt sideways to avoid spills. However, for $23-since you have to physically lift the container to get it into the device anyway-it's a bit too pricey, not to mention pointless. It's pitched as an ideal product for kids to use, but after watching the demonstration videos on RollnPour.com, we think there seems to be just as much risk for a spill with the Roll 'n Pour as without.
We are willing to admit that this Apple Peeler is probably pretty useful when it comes to baking homemade apple pies, but the size of the thing makes it completely impractical. Not only is this contraption unwieldy, it also must attach to a countertop to work properly-making it difficult to store when not in use. Even though this $24 apparatus will peel your apple in no time, we will stick to the basic hand-held peeler.
If you just returned from a vacation in the United Kingdom and are looking for a way to make toast soldiers-a popular breakfast dish where you dip toasted strips of bread into runny egg yolk-then this might come in handy. Otherwise, we're not certain there's really a need for Perfect Soldiers, which, essentially, is a stamp that makes indents in your bread so that when you pull it out of the toaster you can break it apart into even strips for dipping. A serrated knife works just as well, and you don't have to pay ₤5.99 (that's around $9.88) plus shipping to the United States.
Automatic Paper Towel Holder
With the iTouchless Towel-Matic Automatic Paper Towel Holder, you hardly even have to touch the paper towel roll; the sensor detects when to stop so that the paper towel tears at exactly the right place. Though the concept seems great (no more tearing off more than you need!) the expensive $60 cost makes it not-so-great. We like to think that any basic paper towel holder will do just fine, and it costs a considerable amount less (saving you at least $40).
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