"Dude, I was camping and forgot my spork -- I almost starved!"
"Oh, great. You opened the wine bottle but didn't finish all the Grüner. How are we supposed to close it up again so the wine doesn't spoil?"
"I have a dining room full of brunch customers, dozens of eggs, and a pot of boiling water, but the egg poacher broke. Guess I have to send everybody home. Wait. You can poach eggs without an egg poacher? Shut up! Eggs Benedict for everyone!"
Bet you hear stuff like that all the time, right? Yeah, sure. The fact is that as many essential inventions and discoveries as there have been in the world of food and drink throughout the eons (check out The Daily Meal's picks for the 50 most important), there are just as many failed, pointless, and flat-out stupid culinary gadgets cluttering history's kitchen drawers.
You know them too well. You've seen these flimsy, plastic gadgets dice, splice, and not suffice on late-night television in between those infomercials for magic abs and sculpted thighs. In fact, you may have bought a few of the things before it dawned on you just how useless these one-trick phonies -- uni-taskers, we call them -- really were. Hey, we all make mistakes in the kitchen.
As we took time to carefully identify and consider the 50 most important inventions (and discoveries) in food and drink, we couldn't help but think about their opposites, too. We're not necessarily talking about the dumbest kitchen inventions ever (though there are a few of those), but inventions that embody true mediocrity when it comes to culinary ingenuity -- gadgets demonstrating, if nothing else, that it's all about the art of the pitch, and that people will often happily purchase what they already own.
Below, the 10 Food and Drink Inventions We Didn't Need.
- Arthur Bovino, The Daily Meal
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Here's the first question: Why not just finish the damn bottle? OK, maybe you just want one glass, there's still no excuse to own one of these. Someone please explain the need for a reusable stopper when a bottle of wine comes with one; it's called a cork (or, increasingly often these days, a screw cap). "But my cork broke," someone's saying. See question number one. Related: 5 Creative Ways to Open Wine Without a Corkscrew
"The possibilities are endless with tater gloves!" That's right, endless. Infinite. This piece of as-seen-on-TV ingenuity claims to let you "peel a potato in eight seconds." Then you read the fine print: Potatoes need to be boiled for five minutes for gloves to work. Then you read consumer reviews: "Some of the glove is coming off into the food." Right. Stick with a peeler, or better yet a paring knife. Related: 10 Over-the-Top Kitchen Appliances
Many muffin lovers consider the muffin's top to be the superior portion. Still, that doesn't make a muffin top baking pan any less ridiculous. To quote the Seinfeld episode, "You gotta make the whole muffin, then you pop the top, toss the stump." Is it even a muffin anymore when it's just the top? Related: Gluten-Free Baking, Starting with the Basics
A special appliance dedicated to making quesadillas? What's next? An automated pancake machine? (Oh, wait.) Yes, this little sandwich press cooks two flour tortillas ("flour only," the instructions warn) and cuts them into six quesadilla wedges -- but it's nothing you can't do with a pan and a knife, which you already have. Related: 8 Extinct Cooking Techniques Making a Comeback
Just because the spoon-fork hybrid has been around since the end of the 19th century doesn't mean we're pro-sporking. One or the other works just fine. That's not to say it's totally useless -- the friendly plastic spork is utilized in many prisons, as it's more difficult to fashion one into a shank. Related: Unexpected Table Manners Around the World
"Dice, chop, and mince in seconds!" the commercial claims. To clean it you can just "pop [it] open like a butterfly." And it even comes with a handy cheese grater called a "Graty" (two, actually "If you order right now!"). Thanks, but we'd rather chop our vegetables, not slap them. This flimsy gadget, shoutvertised by Vince Offer of ShamWow! fame, takes up more precious kitchen space than we're willing to give it. Related: Best Late-Night Info-Tainment for Insomniac Chefs
The average home salad doesn't typically inspire much excitement, and prepping vegetables can be tedious, so why not make everything a little more fun by using the SaladShooter? Turn chopping vegetables into a game! Watch them fly into a bowl! Just point, press, and shoot! Could anything be easier to use and more convenient to clean and store? Yes. A chef's knife and a cutting board. Though if you buy a couple of these clunky toys, you can have kitchen shoot-outs (Hey! No fair using croutons!) Related: 10 Most Pointless Salad Ingredients
Despite the simplicity of the process (boil water, add vinegar, stir water vigorously, drop egg in center, poach, remove with slotted spoon), poaching eggs can be a daunting and frustrating task for many. So a tool that makes the process foolproof would seem like a great idea, right? Wrong. Why bother with a piece of equipment when you can easily mimic its concept using a glass, mug, or ramekin? Save money and space by opting out of this unnecessary device. Related: Recipe SWAT Team: Everyday Eggs
Let's look at three commonly asserted benefits ascribed to this uni-tasker. It quickly breaks down cloves. It increases flavor by breaking down the garlic's cell walls. And your hands don't smell like garlic. It's true that the garlic is quickly pressed -- into mush. The end result: less garlic per clove and another tool to clean. As for flavor, really? Really? More flavor than smashing the clove with the back of your knife and mincing it up? Get real. As for your hands, um, have you ever effectively been able to clean one of these without sticking your finger inside it? Clove, meet back of knife. Recipe: Asian Crab Roll with Mango and Garlic Chili Dipping Sauces
If you're so obsessed with Outback that you're making these at home, my friend, you may have a problem. And anyway, if you really wanted to make your own Bloomin' Onion at home without an onion blossom maker, we'll bet you could figure it out. Related: How to Chop an Onion and Not Cry
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