Friday, January 16, 2009

The high cost of modern gadgets

I think I've actually come up with an insight into why consumers have managed to get themselves into such financial trouble. Forget just taking out unrealistic mortgages, paying the high cost of college tuition or buying an expensive car. We've apparently become obsessed with gadgets. These are the little items, often advertised on TV, and intended to make our lives ridiculously easy.

The first time this notion occured to me, I was watching a commercial for some kind of pancake maker that would assure that all your pancakes were perfectly round. I believe it also flipped over for perfectly even browning. Now why anyone needs to spend money to accomplish this is beyond me. When I spoon batter onto a flat griddle pan, guess what? The pancakes are round. And when I flip them with a spatula, the other side gets brown, too. Amazing, huh?

Ditto special grills for making grilled cheese sandwiches. Paninis, of course, are trendy. Whole restaurants (even in my books) are devoted to them, but let's remember, they can be made just as efficiently on a griddle pan. Two pieces of buttered bread, cheese, ham or whatever in the middle and voila, something that tastes pretty similar to any panini I've ever had. Keep in mind, our ancestors were making grilled cheese sandwiches long before anyone invented a panini press. And if they wanted them to look a bit fancier, they put them in the waffle iron.

Then, just the other day, came the special egg cracker, which will crack your raw egg without any mess, help you to crack and peel your hard-boiled eggs AND separate eggs for cooking. Assuming it works as shown, I suppose it can cut down on a certain amount of mess. However, in tight economic times, what's wrong with cracking those eggs the old-fashioned way?

That, of course, is the real argument against all these modern conveniences: the cost, especially when there are simpler, cheaper ways to accomplish the same thing. I guarantee you, though, that some of these things are probably selling like, well, hot cakes. Plus the cost of shipping and handling, of course.

There are tons of other gadgets out there and people are obviously buying them or they wouldn't be airing expensive commercials to sell them.

Keep in mind, as you read this, that I still have dial-up internet service and have yet to make significant inroads into discovering the many talents of my cellphone. Guess I'm just an old-fashioned girl...or a cheapskate. Of course, there is this one handy little tool for dealing with grout that I do have my eye on!

Sherryl Woods

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Blogger still karibear said...

I have to admit I love kitchen gadgets. On the other hand, I don't buy them new - they all came from thrift shops or ebay. I always wondered why people would spend so much money of stuff, then just get rid of it. My favorites are/were a juicer, a rice cooker [actually 2 of them, one for the microwave and one electric], espresso makers, coffee grinders, a Magic Bullet that cost me about 1/3 of what they were being sold for, crock pots, a pressure chicken fryer, and so on. At one time I even had a dozen or so Ginsu knives - remember those? They made wonderful steak knives. But generally speaking, I never spent more than the change in my wallet, so I guess I'm not a real gadgeteer. I just like to mess around with them.

January 16, 2009 5:44 PM  
Blogger Sherryl said...

Karibear...I fear if I spent any real time in the kitchen, I'd have to own more than I do, so I probably shouldn't scoff. I do have a must-have breadmaker that hasn't been used in years (since I started trying to avoid carbohydrates) and somewhere I believe there's a yogurt maker that was never used and a salad spinner that was a gift.

I'm dying to know if anyone else is hooked on all these gadgets and really uses them once they own them. Anyone?

That said, keep in mind that I just ordered the Cindy Crawford skin care system after watching about five minutes of an infommercial. I am not immune to these lures, especially if something promises me gorgeous, age-defying skin!

January 18, 2009 4:16 AM  
Blogger still karibear said...

I used to have a kitchen that was as big as my living room now, so I had more than enough places to put things away. And I was usually cooking for 4 or 5 people, all but me hungry hard-working men. But that was then... now that there's just me, I'm going to have to weed some of it out, I guess. I have a kitchen now that's about half the size of my laundry/bathroom! No cabinet space, nothing.

Breadmakers never interested me because I found kneading bread dough very good for working off stress. And what they don't tell you about those yogurt makers is that you can only make your own yogurt if you have a source of unpasteurized/unhomogenized milk - and if you have that, you also know that you can make a quart at a time just by using a starter and leaving it in a warm oven overnight in a glass canning jar. Those were one of the biggest rip-offs to come along. But after we got to the Lower 48, all I've gotten are coffee pots and a crock pot, to replace what broke. And the Magic Bullet - I figured if that worked as well as it was supposed to, I could get rid of a couple other gadgets and save some room. Still working on testing that out!

As for other kinds of stuff, that doesn't appeal to me at all, though my husband would frequently watch infomercials and shopping channels late at night and tell me to look for something like what he'd seen - and those usually showed up at one of the thrift shops sooner or later, too.

January 18, 2009 1:38 PM  

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