Call us Grinchy, but as Christmas rushes towards us, we at The Salt have been overwhelmed with foodie gift ideas that frankly give us pause. So if you're confronting a long Christmas list that will have to be dealt with at the last minute, we have some advice.
Resist the food baubles and frippery that await you on Amazon.com and in nearly every retail outlet.
How do you resist when all this stuff looks and sounds so whimsical and delicious, you ask? Here's our guide to spotting the most useless stuff out there, and how not to be snookered into thinking your foodie loved ones' lives will be better with these gifts.
To help you out, we've grouped them into two categories: Forgettable Edibles and Clutter.
Forgettable Edibles. By now, you may have heard of Bacon Of The Month Club. Well, bacon fervor has evolved way past monthly bacon installments, into new flavor territories, and even perfume. Among the gift packs we hope we won't receive this year is this Deluxe Candied Bacon Lovers Sample on Etsy.
We know bacon is irresistible, even to some vegetarians, and in theory, bacon and chocolate complement each other quite well. But does your foodie beloved really need a package with nine different versions of sugar on bacon (examples: Dark Chocolate Covered Candied Bacon, Candied Chipotle Bacon, Milk Chocolate Candied Chipotle Bacon)?
We think not. And should you choose to venture deeper into the Etsy food product page, be prepared to get a sweet tooth headache. Indeed, edible fondant cupcake toppers, tree-shaped Cheerio marshmallow snacks and peppermint candy cane marshmallows will not augment little Bobby's stocking.
Clutter. These are the gadgets you might be tempted to buy that will be shoved in a drawer and forgotten after the Christmas confetti has settled. We're with Alton Brown that there are way too many single-purpose kitchen utensils and equipment out there, and you should not be party to their kitchen invasion. For examples, we turned to Erin Doland, editor-in-chief of the blog Unclutterer, who has developed a keen eye for absurd unitaskers in her Unitasker Wednesday column.
Take, for example, this cauliflower corer. Surely your sister can do without it. And even if she's the queen of coring, she can also probably core her heart out without a cupcake corer or this strawberry stem remover.
And even if your nephew lives solely on hot dogs, please don't burden his parents with a hotdog steamer or dicer. Keep your gadget-prone relatives away from corn dog makers, too, even if they make you nostalgic for Midwestern state fairs. Built-in video is also not going to notably improve your ability to weigh food, though the Japanese company Donya would have you believe otherwise, as Gizmodo has noted.
And it's a good thing this cheese curler, or cheese waver, as Doland calls it, is out of stock. Because you don't want one. Ostensibly it can help you decorate a cheese board. But we are betting neither you or anyone you know would actually use it.
What do foodies really want and need? That's easy: Help doing the dishes. But if you really feel obligated to buy something, consider goats or chickens for families who can get a lot out of them. Or you can make a donation on behalf of someone else to your local food pantry.