Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
It looks like gift card sales will hit an all-time high this holiday season. E-gifting is expected to top $118 billion this year with the most popular cards being from: 1. department stores; 2. restaurants; 3. coffee shops; and 4. gas station cards.
Still, maybe you’re one of those people who hates impersonal gift cards, who has to deliver a present with “personality.” For all of you, I’ve asked my excellent Food & Wine colleague Daniel Gritzer to troubleshoot some of the more questionable food gifts out there.
Happy holidays, everyone! Now here’s Daniel, who says:
"There are many great gift options for the food-obsessed; there are also some real doozies. Do everyone - me, your friends, family, yourself - a favor, and consider not buying any of the below for the holidays."
Nibble Cake Test Baking Pan
At first glance, this cake pan is cute (and pricey, at $22!). Adjacent to the main cake-batter compartment is a smaller one for baking a teensy tiny test cake, so you can make sure your dessert tastes good without cutting into the real one. Here’s the problem: If you’re baking them both at the same time, it’s too late to fix the batter for the larger cake anyway.
On the surface these ice-cold soapstone rocks seem like a great idea—chill your whiskey without watering it down. Plus, you get to look like Fred Flintstone, walking around with gray rocks in your glass. But most whiskey experts will tell you that you actually need a little water to really open up a good whiskey and make it taste best. Instead, opt for a big ice cube that will melt slowly while chilling the booze.
Power Bacon Deodorant
I don’t even know where to start with this, so I’ll let the website do the talking: “Do not eat or hike in the woods without a firearm while wearing Power Bacon.” I’m just not sure if they’re referring to wild animals or to people who might take action after spending too much time near someone who constantly reeks of fake bacon.
The Beer Buckle
As the name partially suggests, this is a big fat antique-style “bevbuckle” that lets you “hold your bottle or can hands free with Style!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a party and thought, What would really be cool is if I could attach this beer to my belt buckle right now. Actually I can tell you how many times I’ve thought that: Never.
Egg Minder Smart Tray
In my life of cooking eggs, including years in professional kitchens, I’ve never cracked open a rotten one. After polling several of my F&W colleagues, all of whom cook a lot, I can confirm that it’s exceedingly rare. So why in the world is it worth $70, plus the cost of batteries, to electronically monitor whether your eggs at home are rotten?
Monsieur Robotic Bartender
Mixing most cocktails isn’t that hard—with a recipe in hand, it’s usually just a matter of combining a few different liquids together. This device, an artificially intelligent robotic bartender, does it for you via a touchscreen, for the low, low price of $3,999.
If this item were called an “Individual Ring-Shaped Cake Pan,” I’d have no problem with it. But a proper doughnut should be deep-fried, not baked. Especially during the holidays, when cutting loose is practically a requirement. No one should be gifting baked doughnuts for the holidays.
More from Food & Wine:
Best Gifts Under $20
Best Gifts Over $100
Fantastic Home Design Gifts
High Tech Kitchen Gifts
Gifts for Cocktail Enthusiasts
Gifts for the food lover in your life (or to hoard for yourself)
Gifts for people who like to cook, host, read, eat and drink
Think outside the bottle for wine gifts
Spirited gifts for cocktail lovers
© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.
Egg minder: I was on a submarine in the navy. We would store egg cases in lower level missile. Getting close to the end of a 2 month tour underwater, some eggs would be spoiled. It would have been nice to know before hand instead of cracking open ~8 eggs to get 2 good ones.
I have to take issue with the egg checker. I've cracked a rotten egg before and its exceedingly unpleasant. Didn't want to eat eggs for many weeks after; quite a sad thing. I agree tho, not worth $70.
This year for Christmas, we gave slabs of Polish bacon. Roughly three pounds apiece, uncut, lightly smoked. At my daughter's Christmas morning, 6 adults ate roughly 2 thirds of a slab. It was delicious.
Doesn't hurt, one time a year, to go crazy with food
Sure, some suckers will buy them!
Your just thinking of your own income level.
People that make millions a year think of $70 as you and I do $.70.
I'm sure they won't sell a lot of them, but the margin must be +500%
The egg minder may not be for everyone, but please don't insult the cook before you have tried the food.
In the immortal words of Ed Lover, "C'mon, son!"
i think there is never a ridiculous gift if it is given to you as a gift! . . . it will only be ridiculous if you bought it for yourself!
But someone DID buy it. I think it is the object that is just as ridiculous as the person who bought it :)
Try not to laugh when you open a gift and find the Egg Minder tray :D
I think some of these comments are off the mark. For example, your logic on Nibble. To me, the concept is about knowing if the baked cake is something I want to serve to guests. If I baked a small sample of my cake batter as you suggest and found it to be good, I am then behind on my baking as I now have to bake the larger cake. Nibble avoids this as I'd know that the larger baked cake is good to go.
As for egg minder, you are off again. The device measures freshness of the egg not if the egg is rotten. It also monitors how many eggs you have. It may not appeal to the general public but people on high protein diets (including athletes) may find this very useful.
Love the Robot. Works like a charm. Great with small talk too. Just wish it had bigger knockers.
The egg minder? If I have a question whether an egg is fresh or not, I put it in a glass of water. If it floats, throw it out!
Most experts would tell you the whiskey rocks work great, just make sure to add a little water. It's easier than trying to make giant ice cubes.
Rocks are easier than ice cubes? What happens when you have friends over? Do you have enough cold rocks for them? What about if they want another drink? Do you have more cold rocks?
OH THE DILEMMA!
Whiskey stones are the BOMB! Then you can add as much or as little water to your favorite libation as you want. KUTGW Vegas82.
hey i got four bottles of md 20/20 and i dont drink lmao
If I recieved 4 bottles of MD 20/20 I wouldn't drink either.
It'd probably go well over waffles.
Baked doughnuts... otherwise known as a round loaf of bread.
Bundt cake, dumba$$
Re: the Egg Minder tray. It does more than that - it can *also* let you check by smartphone to see how many eggs you have in the refrigerator. Because, y'know, we can't just look at the box before we go to the grocery store (or remember how many eggs we had the last time we took one out). So, you could spend $70 on that, or on a dozen eggs every couple of weeks for a year. I'll take the eggs.
Sometimes it's cute and fun to give a unique and totally impractical gift, so I wouldn't rule out some of these. But there are alternatives and other reasons maybe not to buy:
1. Nibble cake pan: If you're baking a large and tiny cake at the same time, the little one will dry out or burn first.
2. Whiskey Rocks: there are SO many cute ice cube trays available, why give up the water?
3. Bacon deodorant: other than for shock value, I wouldn't. Bacon is over-rated except in real food.
4. Beer buckle? Some guys (and even gals) would get a kick out of this, but have on hand a real gift too!
5. Egg Minder: Actually, I have opened eggs that were less than prime – and some years we have had fresh eggs from local yards, not always the most reliable for perfection. Some of us would get a lot of use from this tech gadget, just probably not urban dwellers.
6. Robotic Bartender: For someone who has everything (my uncle comes to mind), if you're quite wealthy, or for the commercial bar that needs a good substitute for seasoned help. Otherwise, you're right. I'm not getting one!
7. Doughnut Pan: These are popular every couple of years in one form or another. Even though I've been on diets on and off, I've never been tempted to get one – but my kids have had them on their list. Must be the advertising! I'll take the real thing if I'm going off the diet anyway. . .
2. For two reasons: (1) people who drink whiskey typically don't want cute ice cubes and (2) too much water from the melting ice dilutes a good liquor past the point of great flavor.
I actually got the Whiskey Rocks last X-mas. Guess what? They don't work. They don't get liquor cold, they don't keep liquor cold and they're heavy......wait....what? I was supposed to freeze them first?
Reblogged this on The Guilty Kitty.
I'm giving the bacon deodorant to our mailman for Christmas.
Holidays or not, anyone giving any of these items as gifts needs to be soundly beaten.
Feel the love!
*sniff* I didn't know you cared. *sniff*
I am so getting you an egg belt buckle (whatever ;) ). I'm sure we'll find something to do with it. ~_~ Maybe you can show me what a "sound beating" really is – then I'll return the favor. ~_~
Hmmm, too graphic?