Impractical kitchen gadgets that we love anyway

 vintage gadgets

Every day it seems my inbox is filled with advertisements for shiny new kitchen gadgets that promise to save time or outperform older models. A kitchen scale is so much more accurate than that old set of measuring cups, and by using the tare feature I can get those cookies in the oven faster. That heavy-duty blender will make short work of those smoothies, so why should I struggle with an undersized, ancient model? 

While these items may indeed work better than my current tools, I just cannot give up some old gadgets. Sentiment overrides practicality. I do weigh nearly all of my baking ingredients, I still frequently reach for the dented, dull metal measuring cups that once belonged to my grandmother. For ingredients where precision is not required, I prefer to use these familiar tools. They transport me across the country and back in time to my grandmother’s farm kitchen, where I would stand on a vinyl-covered chair, “helping” Grandma make a batch of cookies. 

Sometimes it is the sheer beauty of a tool that keeps me from replacing it. Although it has less capacity and is not nearly as powerful as its modern brethren, my vintage Vitamix gleams in its stainless, mid-century glory. The same can be said for the handsome hand-cranked coffee grinder. In addition to its beauty, the grinder’s analog operation is satisfying. There are no buttons to press and no beeps to interpret; the only sound is that of the coffee beans being pummeled by the steel gears. It may take a while to grind enough for a pot of coffee, but the process is a calming respite from the breakneck pace of modern life. 

A handful of tools remain in my cabinets because it seems heartless to replace them; they have become like old friends. I have an old potato masher adorned with an unfortunate design from the late 1970s. The metal has discolored and the plastic handle is nicked and warped. But it functions as well as any new model so it seems a shame to replace it. I haven’t given up my friends, nor have they replaced me, even though we are not quite shiny and new either. 

While I still succumb to tempting new kitchen gadgets that replace less versatile models (hello, Instant Pot and goodbye, slow cooker), many items shall remain in my cabinets – and in my heart – for years to come. What items do you hold dear, despite (or because of) their flaws? 

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  • Cubangirl  on  April 20, 2017

    I have an old stainless steel dinner fork with a round ribbed plastic handle with a large chip on the handle. I don't know when or why I bought it, but it is what I use to scramble eggs or mix anything that does not absolutely require a whisk. My children don't remember me using anything else. When my son, now almost 40, got his own place, he suggested he should take it as I had better tools. He was told no and offered a fork from an old flatware set. He took it but later said, it did not work as well. That, my mother's old fluted and lidded pan for use in the pc for Cuban flan, and an old clear Pyrex double boiler (which I never use because I never do anything over boiling water) are my refuse to part with old gadgets.

  • pokarekare  on  April 21, 2017

    My old orange plastic citrus juicer is nearly 50 years old now but has outlasted electric ones, glass ones, and several other quirky designs. It just seems to juice lemons more quickly and efficiently than anything else! I also have a wooden spoon that was a kitchen tea gift and has out lasted many newer ones.

  • Jane  on  April 21, 2017

    I'm with you on the plastic citrus juicer, pokarekare – it's much more efficient than any modern tools. I have two Pyrex mixing bowls that I inherited from my grandmother so they must be at least 50 years old. They are very scratched but I still use them regularly. And a Swedish cheese slicer that my parents had and I always coveted. When I asked them to leave it to me in their will they generously gave it to me. I could probably get a sharper, better cheese slicer (or so my daughter claims) but I like the attachment to my parents.

  • eliza  on  April 22, 2017

    I have many old (aka vintage) pieces of kitchen equipment, but my favourites are my ancient iron kitchen knives with bone handles and the carborundum stone used to sharpen them. A quick sharpen, and they are ready to go. They're so old that they're back in fashion, and I use them daily.

  • cmathias  on  April 27, 2017

    I have a paring knife that I will never let go. It's not a very good knife any longer, but it belonged to my mother. It is the knife I always remember her using as she made thousands of meals for our family. When I am gone, I know someone will look at it and wonder why I kept an item like that!

  • Debbieja  on  April 28, 2017

    I have a incredibly older cheesgrater of my Mothers, which is discoloured, dented and split at the bottom, but it is the one I always use even though I have two bright new ones. It's works much better than the new ones , there no comparison in my opinion and I love the fact it's been doing it's job for over 60 years and still is the best! 😀

  • MargaretM  on  April 28, 2017

    An old (once silver) spoon of my mothers, worn down by her to two thirds of it's length to a usefully flat end for stirring scrambled eggs, among other things.

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