Christmas Gadgets Are Rubbish

December 31, 2010

Receiving Christmas presents is a lottery. Some years you seem to get everything you’d have wanted, which tastes all the sweeter for having not dropped any hints. In other years, in spite of your not-so-subtle requests, you get absolute rubbish and wonder if the people you love know you at all. Whether you have a good year or bad, one thing is guaranteed: you’ll receive at least one gift you didn’t think you wanted, are very pleased to have, then, in a short space of time, find it to be a much bigger turkey than the one on your plate. I received my turkey last year. Here’s the story.

My random present was a peanut butter making machine. It was a mad gadget, but I was excited by the idea of making my own peanut butter and other nut/seed varieties. It would be cheaper than buying it in a shop; it would be fresher; and I could make it with or without salt and sugar. What was there not to like? Look at the box:

Peanut butter making machine box

Looks great, doesn’t it? The picture on the box shows the container full of delicious nuts waiting to be blended to make a spread, and the lovely, fresh, smooth brown paste in the pot below just waiting to be put on toast – wonderful! But there’s more! Look! Look at what I can make with it:

Side of peanut butter making machine box showing variety of nuts

Every nut known to man can be made into a spread by this one little machine. I was salivating. I couldn’t wait to get started.

I took it out of the box, assembled it, put some cashew nuts in the container, plugged it in, then turned on the plug point, not realising that the button on the machine itself had already been switched to ‘on’. Mother of God – my ears! It was like a man with a Jackhammer had entered the house. It was also starting to move a little on the work surface, though the machine had rubber feet to keep it down. I switched it off at the plug point, reset the button on the machine, switched it on again, held the machine down and waited for the cashews to come out of the other end as the promised nut butter. What I got instead was powder. And a temporary loss of hearing.

Pot containing powdered cashew nut

The nuts were hardly going down and the twizzle thing at the top I was supposed to twist to help the nuts go down wasn’t working. I took everything apart again and cleaned it out. It was clear that the nut pieces weren’t small enough and indeed it did say in the instructions that the pieces may need to be made smaller in some instances so it could go through. But it showed whole nuts in the picture. I was confused, and a little annoyed. I didn’t use that machine again for nearly a year, such was my disgust at knowing that one of my loved ones spent their hard earned money on this piece of crap. Two days ago, I decided to give it one last go before I consign it to the bin. I was better prepared this time. I put some much reduced cashew pieces in the container, as suggested in the instructions, placed the machine on a newspaper to dampen the noise and switched it on. The noise was horrendous and I still had to hold the machine down to keep it in place. Nothing came out. The cashew pieces were still not small enough.

cashew nut pieces. A whole nut and a fragment sitting side by side

I had to reduce the contents of the container by half and try again. Eventually, after the initial spray of powder, something more solid started coming out of the spout. It was horrible. It resembled pieces of fudge and it tasted as bad as it looks here, dear reader.

pot containing fudge-like substance from the peanut butter making machine

The final indignity was when the motor cut out from the strain of trying to create this mess and the machine started smoking. There was only one place it could go:

peanut butter making machine dumped in the bin

I think I will try and make my own nut butter in a different way from now on. A blender may not be as much fun to look at, but it will do the job while preserving my hearing and ensuring that I will not be left standing in a pile of rubble, smoke and ash where Pie Palace used to be.

This Christmas I received a Yogurt maker.



  1. I Sooooo feel your pain Pie.
    My “Turkey 2009” was a Magic Bullet type mini-blender, looked GREAT and perfect for mincing amounts too small to be practical for my food processor. Chopping a single onion was no longer going to be a chore involving tears I thought.
    Sadly one tiny piece of the gadget is it’s undoing. The motor is in the base, there is a connection shaped like little windmill-like triangular sails that spins around. You are supposed to click this into a corresponding piece in the “cup” that has the blades in the bottom, and Voila, the magic happens.
    To my total annoyance there is no “on/off” switch on the machine, you click the top into base and push down and when the two bits connect, the spinning starts. Good yes? Foolproof yes?
    Some dipstick has made the connection bits out of plastic and engineered the machine to start the motor spinning a fraction before the two bits are properly connected. The result is an unhealthy grinding noise and shredded plastic of the connection. First only one “sail” of the windmill shape was destroyed… we looked at the damage in horror and thought we did something wrong. We didn’t push the two together fast enough, we thought. Himself and I investigated and I tried again, pushing the two bits together as fast as possible. The second “sail” on the windmill connection shredded just as easily as the first. Himself stepped forward at this point with those infamous words ” …here Sweet, let ME have a go…”
    He too pushed the top part into the bottom part as quickly as he could. We were ready for it, prepared to beat it… and in fact I don’t think it is humanly possible to have pushed to two parts together quicker.
    I must say that the look on Himself’s face was rather priceless (but sadly for all the wrong reasons) afterwards when there was a sickly smell of hot plastic, a lot of unhappy noise from the machine and the discovery that about 95% of the remaining two connection “sails” lay in almost powdery form between the top of the motor and the bottom of the cup.
    We were now proud owners of a machine made completely useless on it’s first outing.
    The giver of the gift had not kept the receipt so taking it back to the shop wasn’t an option. I called the manufacturer and got a customer service desk of people who clearly had limited English language skills and ready from a prepared script who could only tell me over and over again how the machine worked (in theory how it worked at least) I managed to speak to a manager and his advice was first to re-tell me how the machine worked and then to return it back to the shop with the receipt (that I *already* explained we didn’t have). I asked if other customers reported the same problem, and he said that they “were sure that they didn’t know of any”. Spare parts appeared to be a concept they didn’t do.
    So, like you, we were forced to consign a brand new gadget to eventual landfill. It didn’t even get my first solitary onion chopped.
    I bought a blender earlier this year that suffered from exactly the same affliction, I managed to exchange that in the shop after looking at the base of every blender in the shop to find a windmill-like connection that WASN’T plastic AND a machine that had an On/Off switch. Rows of blenders and it wasn’t easy to find one that met the criteria.
    Worse, how many hundreds of thousands of these gadgets are laying in landfill as we speak? I mean I know all about “planned obsolescence” but the sodding things are surely supposed to work at least ONCE before they die?
    I feel your pain Pie… now please be warned and go and check any motor connection (do yogurt makers even have motors?) of your yogurt maker before you turn it on.

    • OMG! My mum had one of those when I stayed over for Christmas. She didn’t get it as a present though. She managed to make a sorbet out of it, but not before the capsule had to be shaken several times to loosen the frozen fruits and mucho mango juice was added. It didn’t break and it didn’t smoke. Maybe we’re just rubbish at those kind of gadgets. With your accident rate, you do not need any more help to break a bone by using these pieces of shit. I hope you are mending well and wish you and your family a very good 2011.

      By the way, the Yogurt maker is from New Zealand. Is that a good thing?

      • Yep I think the yogurt maker is a good thing, I’ve heard relatives raving about it and the vibe was all positive. Can’t say I’ve met the machine in person yet though.Hopefully next trip.
        You are right, my accident rate is appalling, sadly can’t blame the gadgets, unless stairs, pavements, balcony walls, washing lines, door jams and jets ski’s count as gadgets, ok the jet ski is a big gadget, gotta admit that one.
        I’m mending good, (that’s a ignorant guess actually based on the fact that I haven’t managed any further accidents whilst in plaster LOL.) One week to go before next professional assessment and hopefully the pins are good. Increasing the comfort factor would be welcome. Loosing the plaster will be more than welcome. New Years Resolution: try NOT to take the step-by-step course in stupidity and self destruction, you pay in pain, it’s not recommended.
        THANKS for the good wishes… I hope you have a FABULOUS 2011 !!! Happy Blogging too!

        • Thanks, Kiwi. I expect to see more of your recipes and travels in 2011.

          • LOTS of yummy goodies lined up for your discerning digestive pleasure Pie…
            I’m very much looking forward to many slices of Pie too 🙂
            Here’s something to make you curious: We *might* be visiting a country that is WELL off the tourist trail this year. (No, NOT naming any names as to Where until we have air tickets in our hot little hands pre-summer, but if it gets the green light, it’s sure to be an eye opener re new and I dare say very interesting experiences)

  2. Well at least you tried but how frustrating. Just stick with the shop bought peanut butter, less hassle and less fudge. Have a good New Year.

    • I will keep on buying my various nut butters until I’m able to make it myself at home. Thanks for your concern. Have a great 2011. See you next year!

  3. See, you should have been suspicious as soon as you saw the– may I say suspect and inexpertly placed apostrophes on the sides.

    It’s elementary, dear Watson.

    Naww, hard luck on the peanut butter-er. But not all christmas gadgets are bad. I, for example, was presented with an exquisite, waddling desk robot. I mean, Mosely (as he is christned) does make a kind of churning noise similar to what I imagine your short-lived peanutterer to have done, but is so adorable, I don’t really mind.

    What, exactly does a yoghurt maker do? I am extremely curious.

    • And if you say ‘It makes yoghurt!’ I wll be extremely cross.

  4. I didn’t even notice the apostrophe thing, such was my excitement at the prospect of making my own nut butter. That should’ve told me it was a wrong ‘un, you’re absolutely right.

    I haven’t tried it out yet, but I imagine it makes err… yogurt. Seriously, from what I can make out, you have to mix a powder full of natural cultures and bacteria with water in a pot, then place it in a bigger pot full of water, then leave it for a few hours or overnight. Sounds elaborate, but I hope it will be more successful than the peanut butter making machine. I’ll let you know when I eventually get round to using this domestic marvel.

    In the meantime, enjoy Mosely, your desk robot. I expect he will continue to give you hours (ok, minutes) of joy.

    • I thought the way one goes about making yoghurt was to leave milk with a spoonful of old yoghurt in it in a jar on the windowsill until it goes thickish. But lucky old you for having a yoghurt maker. Now you get to enjoy the smooth, creamy tase of fermented essence of cow infused with Lactoballicus Bulgarius every day!

      I don’t think I will ever use Mosely again, but he can sit on my desk and look pretty if he so wishes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: