I equate shopping for technology with trying on string bikinis under fluorescent lights, in public, on live television. I’m sure it’s not as embarrassing but I dread it just as much. Food shopping is a necessity and not my idea of fun. Given a choice, I’d prefer to spend a stolen hour devoted to browsing among unusual items. So a recent outing with a girlfriend to hit a string of home stuff stores was a welcome way to spend a sunny Saturday.
In the back of an especially deep and full kitchen store, I was captivated by all of the doodads and gizmos. The clever displays leave you believing your life really would improve if you bought a spork (combination spoon and fork!) or that you truly do need a crumb vacuum for the counter area around the toaster.
I haven’t given into the Slap Chop craze yet, but maybe Vince is right — maybe my life IS boring! There were so many items I had never seen before. A drought of wedding shower invitations means I haven’t had to scour similar shops for something that stands apart from the array of pickle trays and fondue pots that are so often given to a bride-to-be.
What better way to crack hard-shelled nuts than by calling in the talents of an expert: a squirrel. This stainless steel critter stands upright in a position that says, “Hey, is that nut for me?” Place the nut in his jaw and crack it by pushing a little lever on the back of his head. He’s thoughtful, too, standing on a tray designed to catch shell shrapnel. When not in use, he’s simply a shiny rodent that happened to take up residence on your table.
Willy the Woodpicker also caught my eye. Press on him, and he bends over to retrieve a toothpick from a drawer that opens at his feet. I remember reading years ago that the late advice columnist Ann Landers used to pull a gold toothpick out of a gold case after every meal. I suspect Willy hasn’t caught on in a big way because, wooden or gold, it’s just not cool to start picking your teeth in front of other people. But if you have to dislodge something from a molar, Willy is an awfully cute way to go about it. Better than, say, a matchbook cover.
Let’s consider the onion. Man and woman have been trying to diminish its tear-inducing properties for decades. Some people say merely touching stainless steel does the trick. Others cut their onions under running water. Now some marketing genius has created the Onion Goggles. For $30 you, too, can own a pair of the goofiest plastic glasses since early woodworkers realized their eyes needed protection from flying sawdust. I don’t know if they work, but on the next (rare) occasion when I slice an onion, I’ll save my money and grab the goggles from my husband’s workshop.
What home couldn’t benefit from a stainless steel cheese holder? This little knob with pins in one end is designed to keep your cheese in place while you slice it – because cheese slippage is apparently a blight of the modern kitchen. Simply holding it in place with your other hand is so last century.
I emerged from the gadget gallery with a funky new measuring spoon that has a slider top that accommodates all fractions of a teaspoon in one vessel. And it’s clear that I really need to get a gadget fix more often. They fill needs in your life that you didn’t even know you had.