Mixing It Up


Carra told me she would like a countertop blender or handheld blender for Christmas. I really appreciated this because I have a very hard time deciding what to buy her each year as she has no interest in model trains. That really only leaves gloves. Or mittens. And I bought her both last year. I probably should have kept one pair in reserve. So, I was extraordinarily relieved when she told me what she wanted and I thought, “This will be the easiest Christmas gift buying ever!”

Ha ha! Ho ho! Apparently there is not so much a blender market as there is a blender *racket* in which everyone including the Corleone family has involved themselves, thus requiring more time and analysis in choosing one than you would spend in choosing your first home.

I think the reason everyone has gotten involved in the blender business is because they assume it’s an easy product to produce based on the fact that the first one was developed by band leader Fred Waring, whose vast knowledge of mechanical engineering came from his extensive study of George Gershwin songs. It is, however, a myth that Fred Waring actually invented the blender even though the first blender was called the “Waring Blender.” The blender was actually invented and patented by a man named Fred Osius. Unfortunately it didn’t work. Neither did Osius. Except on his blender.

Consequently Osius was desperate for money so that he could continue developing his device. And so, one night, he camped out on a barstool at the Stardust Ballroom where the famous Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians were playing. During a break, and sufficiently liquored up, Osius bravely approached Waring and asked the immortal question that we know today led to a culinary revolution: “Can I be in your band?”

Waring said no. But Osius was not one to be easily put off and so asked, “Can I have $25,000 to start a blender company instead?” Being as equally gassed as Osius, Waring said okay, despite not knowing what a blender was. And so their partnership began. But it was long and hard road, for the blender would still not work. Together they toiled side by side in their small shop, Osius making delicate adjustments to the device and Waring singing “Button Up Your Overcoat” and “Dancing In The Dark” to it. For six months there was nothing but failure and frustration, until one day Waring came up with the idea of plugging it in. Eureka! The rest is history.

But getting back to me and my problems, the variety of kitchen blenders is mind numbing. This immense range goes from Fisher-Price’s “My First Crappy Chinese-Made Blender”, to your midrange brands produced by Oster, Cuisinart, Kleenex, Kia, Hershey, Bic, Hasbro, Penguin Classics, AT&T, Haines, to higher quality models like the Vitamix 7500 (which for easy reference is both the model number and the price), all the way up to Caterpillar’s B-52 XL that not only makes a terrific smoothie but will also mix cement and—thanks to the handy centrifuge attachment—allow you to produce weapons grade uranium.

Amazon is probably the best route to take for the purpose of getting a handle on what’s good and what isn’t since they have lots of reviews. Unfortunately you can’t just go by the number of stars—you have to actually read the reviews, as your criteria could be somewhat different than those of others. Here are some sample reviews to demonstrate my point:

“Our refrigerator is white. I got my wife this white blender. She loves the way they match.” Five stars.

“I put a brick in this blender and it broke the first day I had it out of the box. Garbage. Don’t waste your money.” One star.

“This blender is great! I took it out of the box, plugged it in, turned it on, and the blades went around in a circle just like the clerk at J.C. Penny said they would.” Five stars.

“This is the best blender I’ve ever had. I’ve owned it for six years and it still works perfectly. Unfortunately I had to pay for it myself. If I’d gotten it for a Christmas present or something I would have rated it higher.” Three stars.

“I read that this immersion blender didn’t come with a wall mount. I really wanted a wall mount. I decided to buy it anyway. I wish I hadn’t, because I really wanted one with a wall mount.” Two stars.

Another thing to be wary of is Internet reviews or comparison studies presented by any organization whose website ends in dot com. Unlike the dot org people whose job it is to rescue puppies, dot com people give advice for the sole purpose of becoming wealthy. You need to bear this in mind. Their determination as to what is the best of several products being reviewed is solely dependent upon the number of Super Bowl tickets they’ve received from each competitor. Similarly misleading, thanks to the employment of a truly deft charade, is a web page actually owned by the company who manufactures the numero uno product at the top of their particular list. But you don’t know they own the web page. And they don’t want you to. Nonetheless this was pretty transparent on one occasion where I was investigating the opinions on “Cunsoomer Reportz.com” as they related to economical immersion blenders. They highly touted the powerful yet affordable Mr. Electric Swizzle Stick and put that as their hands down, A-number one best buy. Runners up included the $500 Vitamix Hobo followed by Plastic Spork From Burger King and Your Fingers.

Speaking of powerful yet affordable, one of the things most immersion blenders will boast of on their box is a “powerful” motor. This is bad. If the motor has 200 to 280 watts, it will say so on the box because that’s a good amount, and anybody who put that much wattage into their product is not going to be shy about telling you exactly how much it is because it costs them a lot of money to build it that way. If on the other hand it has, like, eleven watts, it will say “powerful motor” because saying “Comes with many watts” is considered poor marketing. So if you see “powerful motor” be aware that this is a powerful motor only if you put it in an electric toothbrush. Now, you may be wondering how they can get away with such flim flammery and apparent false advertising. It’s very simple: If we look in our dictionaries we’ll see the definition of “powerful” is having or capable of exerting power. In other words, if you run an electric current through this device, it will do something. And “something” includes vibrating or melting. Just FYI.

There are probably many conscientious web sites offering advice on housewares, but I really liked The Sweet Home.com. They’re very thorough and objective. I’m more than happy to give them a plug. I’d be even happier if they sent me a check for having done so. But I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen, so I’m passing it on to anyone reading this as a contribution to the community, in case anyone reading is thinking of buying someone they really care about a really nice housewares gift for next Christmas. In return I’d appreciate it if someone could direct me to a good in depth website that focuses on Shetland ponies as I just find them interesting and would like to learn as much about them as possible (breeds, habits, dispositions, diets, history, origins, shipping costs, you know).

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