Silly Kitchen Gadgets: What Were They Thinking?

I was reminded on the weekend about an online discussion I audited a while ago about Kitchen Gadgets Nobody Ever Needed. And since then, I’ve been calling them out. But it seems pointless. useless kitchen gadgets are proliferating!

Hot Dog Maker - © 2024 - you really make hot dogs so often that this one makes sense…
Arrange to have it buried with you, in your early grave.

I’ve been monitoring kitchen gadget websites lately. Not because I want more gadgets. But because I was curious about the latest narcissistic, redundant and mind-bogglingly dumb toys vendors are pushing at the cooks of the world.

Something old, something new…

Some really silly gadgets have been around for so long, they’ve become classics of their kind. And others I’ve found were new, even to me…

Carrot Sharpener

It’s supposed to make you a gourmet cook – whose carrots are all exactly the same size and shape. But mostly they’ll all be pencil-sharp at the pointy end. Unless you use the trimmings for something – perhaps in a tomato sauce to give it body – you’re just contributing to the global shame that is food waste!

Yogurt Maker

You probably got this as a wedding gift (that wasn’t on your registry list). You used it, maybe, twice and decided it was too much fuss and bother. Now, like millions of other folks, you just get your yogurt at the store. The machine is taking up valuable shelf or counter space.

Electric Juicer

You got this in a fit of passion over getting healthy via ‘Juicing’. And you lost interest pretty quickly. Unless you are, and always have been, a healthy living fanatic whose party chatter includes comparing resting pulse rates with like-minded revellers. But for most, the definition of a fad.

Herb Scissors

It has a special place in the bottom, at the back of your cooking tools drawer. And it hasn’t been out of there for years. You do need regular, full-sized kitchen scissors. And they snip herbs just fine.

Pizza Scissors

This one is fairly new on the scene, as a consumer toy. Though there is a viable and venerable history of pizza-scissors use in certain regions and cultures. You can use your regular kitchen scissors. Or better yet, if you make pizza often, get a traditional Italian mezzaluna, semi-circular bladed rocking cutter. It’s great for dicing, as well as slicing other foods, too.

Electric Can Opener

Likely a kitchen shower or wedding gift. But now that many food cans have pull-tab lids, it never gets used. I don’t know anyone who has ever bought one of these for themself.

Electric Carving Knife

Once a staple of the wedding and shower gift realm, these things haven’t been seen in stores for years. Dads of my Dad’s generation loved them for carving a big holiday turkey or ham. But I suspect what they loved most was the showmanship they were able to display at the feast table.


I’m of two minds about this one. I don’t have one. But I’ve sometimes wished I did, so I could do something special with a certain veggie in certain circumstances. But I’ve often just picked up a regular vegetable peeler and made curly cuts that way.

Bacon Press

A new one on  me. You can get nice, flat bacon strips by simply laying them out on a pan in the oven and baking them, rather than frying in the traditional way. And if you really think you do ned a bacon press, wrap a brick in kitchen foil and place it on top.

Garlic Crusher

Again, I’m of two minds. I have one. And I use it in cases where I want the garlic totally minced and mushed out. Like in sauces and soups. But usually, I just pick up my trusty chef’s knife and do a quick hand dice. It takes valuable time to go rummaging in the kitchen tools drawer and cleaning the dusty device before using it.

Electric Salt and Pepper Grinders

Sheer frippery. Totally redundant. One of the reasons you pay a premium for the ‘theatre’ at high-end white-tablecloth restos.

Electric Parmesan Grinder

See: Salt and Pepper Grinders, above.

ANY ‘Maker’ dedicated to one specific dish

The Hot Dog Maker. The Electric Egg Boiler. The Soda Dispenser. The Whipped Cream Dispenser. Special mention goes to the automatic Bread Maker, Muffin maker, and similar baking machines. They were fun while they lasted, but at the same time defined the concept of ‘foodie fad’.

Which is NOT to say I don’t love my Popcorn Air Popper. It’s stood the test of time. I use it all the time. Mine is 30 years old and just keeps on popping away happily!

My take

We all have our opinions and preferences in kitchen gadgets, of course. Some lists I’ve seen – and fellow cooks I’ve consulted – disagree with some of my choices, above. Others say the Tomato/Strawberry huller and melon baller should be included. By the same token, I’ve run into folks who say we don’t need the Hard-Boiled Egg slicer or the ‘mandoline’ veggie cutter.

Whatever your views… Enjoy your fave kitchen gadgets. And try to sell the clunkers at the first yard sale that comes up this spring…

~ Maggie J.