Keeping a constant relationship between supply and demand is difficult for the kitchen utensil industry. Companies have to be pretty inventive to get around the fact that, since most kitchen products last almost a lifetime, most people have simply got everything they need. To keep profits coming in, marketers must find problems and offer material solutions.
JML is an online and TV sales company that specializes in these ‘gap-filler’ products. They sell all kinds of things you never knew you needed, some of which are genuinely useful, but most of which are completely pointless.
Here are three of the most unconvincing products in their kitchen section. Each one is sold as an invaluable solution, but really is something that everyone would be better off without...
The 'Clever Cutter'
To validify this product the makers first have to prove the traditional knife and chopping board – a tool combination used by humanity without qualm for millenia – useless. To do this, they show us someone using a knife and chopping board with as much skill as someone who had literally never cut a vegetable before in their life. The cook is depicted struggling to get their knife through a piece of celery, and then virtually throwing the vegetables in the vague direction of the cooking pot. The voiceover man is correct: this is a real mess, but this is not an issue inherent to the tools being used.
Predictably, the following shots of the Clever Cutter are of an extremely skilled hand; he slices carrots like he’s a wood chipper; it’s all so fast it looks sped up. Maybe it is. Essentially, this product is offering a costly alternative to a few minutes learning proper knife skills on YouTube.
The most perplexing part of this commercial is the claim that it can be used to cut steak for dinner. So this gadget isn’t just for the kitchen... it’s for the dinner table too? Call me old-fashioned, but I think pre-chopping your meal into bite-sized chunks with what are essentially scissors and then shovelling it in is a touch undignified.
The repeated claims of ‘ease’, ‘cleanliness’ and ‘convenience’ are not true enough to justify having this clogging up your utensils drawer. Stick to the tried and tested knife.
At first glance, these do seem convenient. They offer a solution to a problem we’ve all experienced: that occasional boiled egg that doesn’t want to be peeled. But after using them a couple of times you’ll realise a couple of things. Firstly, that boiled eggs aren’t as central to your life as the advert makes them seem, and secondly, that any time savings made from not peeling eggs are lost in washing and drying the plastic shells.
Really, these are the kind of things that end up being shoved in a drawer filled with random tupperware and other kitchen gadgets, never to be touched again. Perhaps, when having a clearout in a few years’ time you’ll find them. With a wistful smile you’ll remember how nifty they seemed, and after scrubbing off the dust, you’ll pop on some eggs for lunch. But once again, they’ll quickly fall out of use, back into that draw, and hopefully, the bin.
If you have boiled eggs frequently enough to justify owning these you’ll probably be practiced enough to peel eggs without issue. If you don’t have eggs very often, there’s no way you’ll want to waste space in your kitchen on these things. And if you really hate peeling eggs... poach them.
The 'Red Copper Brownie Bonanza' Baking Tray
Both through its elaborate name and high-energy advert, the makers of the brownie bonanza are doing their level best to make baking trays – the stained, unloved workhorse of any baker's arsenal – fun and exciting. To this end, the baking tray comes with a small stand that instantly turns it into an extremely top heavy and precarious serving device: now that is exciting! This is another admirable attempt at finding a miniscule problem and offering a material solution, and once again it is the humble knife which is at fault. In truth, slicing brownie isn’t half as difficult as the grey-scale beginning of this advert lets on, and whilst the 'revolutionary' grid is the only way your brownies will be perfectly uniform, isn’t individuality part of the charm of home baking?
The advert pushes the product’s non-stick capabilities, capitalising on the ignorance of beginner bakers who have forgotten to grease their tray in the past. Non-stick surfaces might seem like a solution, but I’d be amazed if it is possible to remove the grid of un-greased metal plates without crumbling at least one or two slices. Whether this works or not, the problem simply doesn't exist: what's so hard about pouring some oil on a piece of greaseproof paper?
Not only is this product largely purposeless, but it takes up even more room in your kitchen than the others on this list. Why would anyone let this enormous, non-versatile piece of equipment fill their cupboards? It can't even stack!