An ode to blenders of yore
Is there a household appliance more useful, more pleasurable, more giving than the blender?
No, there is not.
Yes, the vacuum cleaner deserves our admiration and our gratitude (plus, if you're like me, it's impossible to pass by a vacuum-store window without stopping to stare in awe at the cold beauty of the various cleaners, lined up like robot soldiers).
And the toaster is an obvious necessity, but the result — toast — isn't going to set anyone's world on fire. Unless the toaster is on the fritz, which it usually is.
What's left? The electric can opener? It's largely pointless, only significant because it calls to mind the innocent days when Americans had the space and money to embrace machines that saved us even from performing easy tasks like opening cans.
But the blender is truly a force for good, a uniter, a co-mingler. Before there was Facebook, there were blenders.
Blenders make possible babies' meals and make palatable summer neighborhood cocktail parties. Blenders make me like fruit.
There are the aesthetics — the solid base, the slightly curved jar and all those little buttons that, c'mon, do the exact same thing. Puree, whip, mix, the blender promises us, while secretly laughing to itself.
There's power it imbues in us — one press of "frappe" and you simultaneously destroy and create.
And there's the result — food free of the arduous task of chewing.
The microwave makes us less interested in cooking, makes our food taste a little worse. The waffle maker will be used once and take up room until your yard sale 40 years from now.
Only the blender makes us better.
But the blender, like so many other (but less-worthwhile) manufactured goods, is Under Attack.
We purchased a blender less than a year ago. It wasn't inexpensive. It wasn't made in China. It came with promises. I thought about donating my teeth to science.
We brought the blender home and showed our children. "This is your blender. Never touch it."
And we began to blend: smoothies and peas (for the baby) and a lime-sherbet freeze my mom years ago coaxed out of a Friendly's ("Where Ice Cream Makes the Meal") employee.
Some lime sherbet, some seltzer water, some vanilla syrup, some milk. Blend.
And then, mid-blend, with guests over, it busted. Our guests licked up the lime-sherbet freeze off the floor, but it wasn't the same.
The details of the malfunction don't matter; you don't bring your blender into the blender repair shop anymore.
And so for weeks, we didn't blend. We lined up the ingredients of our smoothies on the counter and ate them individually, trying to mix them as quickly as we could in our mouths.
But then an innocent conversation with mom led to a spectacular discovery: The blender of my youth — the Osterizer Imperial Ten — lived! It was in her basement, 30-plus years of blending behind it and ready for more action.
The thing has got to be 15 pounds -- solid metal base, thick glass jar, buttons that take some dedication to press all the way down. It was born in Milwaukee.
It's the blender of countless decaf coffee milkshakes my mom made me in high school that she told me had caffeine when I had to stay up late to study.
It's the blender of some crème de menthe ice cream concoction my parents would make after the fondue had been all eaten.
It's the blender to finally turn me into a full-blown (but happy) "They don't make 'em like they used to" curmudgeon.
And it's the blender to show the rest of the newer appliances in my home how it's done. As long as the baby doesn't mind a little bit of rust in his peas.
IN OTHER NEWS ...
The Interview Show is back at The Hideout next Friday, Sept. 2, and I have the poster to prove it.