There is a Talmudic adage I've used before, in fact in my first post for MNN: "My life has been blessed, because I never knew I needed anything until I had it." It so succinctly summarizes the situation when something pops onto the scene and you go "Wow, my life is so much better now!" That was my first thought when I saw the world-changing biēm Butter Sprayer.
It’s a unitasker, a term invented by the Unclutterer to describe things in your kitchen that do only one thing, often one marginally useful thing. The world’s favorite unitasker is the Hutzler banana slicer, a $4 plastic item that elicited some of the best reviews ever published on Amazon.
Unlike the banana slicer, the biēm Butter Sprayer costs upwards of $129. Up on Kickstarter now, it also does something that few people every knew they needed: It uses a rechargeable battery to melt one end of a stick of butter at exactly the right rate to spray out of a nozzle onto your toast or your popcorn. The result of two years of research by some of the best engineering minds in San Francisco, it is “beautiful, simple, and easy to use.”
Of course, a few years ago a product like this would have been DOA, because butter was either verboten or a secret treat. Then we found out that we had all been sold a bill of goods with that margarine crap and butter was not the killer we thought it was, and it has made a big comeback. Perhaps that’s the problem here, that after so many years, we've forgotten how to deal with butter and need some high-tech intervention.
According to Wired, biēm inventor Doug Foreman has issues with butter:
“You know when you get up in the morning, and you’re in the ozone before you’ve had coffee,” he says. “You throw a pat of butter in the skillet and go make coffee, and come back and the butter is smoking.”
It’s true, life is hard. So, for that matter, is butter — if you don’t take it out and leave it on the counter for a while. Or be like Europeans and keep it on the counter in a butter dish or butter bell, next to the eggs.
Instead, we have a device with a butter reservoir that senses the amount of butter, an accelerometer to determine when you pick it up and turn it on, an aerosol nozzle that mixes butter and air. But it’s not part of the Internet of Buttery Things. As Wired notes,
It’s smart, but not “IoT smart,” Foreman says. “I don’t need Biem to text me to buy more butter.”
Back on the issue of essentials, former New York Times food writer Mark Bittman once described what he had in his very tiny kitchen:
A young journalist called and asked what, after all, I considered essential in a modern kitchen? "A stove, a sink, a refrigerator, some pots and pans, a knife and some serving spoons," I answered. "All else is optional."
MNN’s Starre Vartan adds some more chazerai (Yiddish for junk) to her kitchen. Like Starre, we have a few gadgets in our house that make our lives easier and more comfortable in the kitchen, from the indispensable rice cooker to my beloved espresso machine.
But I do think we'll take a pass on the biēm Butter Sprayer.