I have the sense lately that, when it comes to cookware, there’s nothing new under the sun. While this may have been generally true for quite some time, 2023 feels different, insofar that there aren’t even many claims that a product is truly new.
Anova, InstaPot, Hexclad, Breville ovens, PICs, even G5 have pretty much run their courses. No earth-shattering new coatings have come out. New cookware lines from the advanced makers seem to be mostly rehashes and stylistic tweaks. And there is a decided movement away from aspirational- and status-based new products, the usual fonts of innovation in the cooware and small appliance markets. Even cutlery and smallwares are moribund.
What I’d call advances mostly seem targeted at uber-convenience, e.g., microwave bowls, automated appliances intended to cook entire “meals” from pre-ordered ingredients, etc.
Does anyone else see this trend? To what would you ascribe it? Does it correspond with other trends, such as home cooking becoming more of an Eat to Live than a Live to Eat excercise?
(John Hartley - a culinary patriot eating & cooking in Northwest England)
I haven’t really seen the trend - but then I’ve not been looking for it. Doesnt surprise me though. I’d suggest the cost of living crisis would be a major contributory factor, not least soaring energy costs. I’ve certainly seen articles in cookery magazines suggesting preparation of food in low energy ways - microwave and air fryers, as examples.
Well, you can make a case that there haven’t been “serious difficulties” in most of humanity’s cooking history.
However, at least for the last 100 years, there’s been a very active push to build better mousetraps, or at least claim that new products are better. While rank consumerism still maintains a frenetic pace, the innovation has slowed, in my observation.
IMO, there is still room for improvement in the humble pot or pan. Increased conductivity, and a better balance between evenness and responsiveness for specific and general uses. Engineered Curie Points. Truly durable and long-lived nonstick coatings. Smart “cozies” for holding and shedding heat. Home induction ovens and thermowells. Consumer “tasting” sensors (e.g., salinity, pH, Scoville, IBU, sulfites, pathogens). Better thermometers and probes.
I think the pandemic has pretty much put a dent in the aspirational market. First - eat to live became the necessary practice, whether cooking at home (and the difficulty of sourcing groceries) or eating out (there wasn’t any ). To me, a whole lot of the cookware market depends on the vision of the kitchen as spectacle and entertainment - which is hard to do if you’re sheltering in place or avoiding gatherings because you’re high-risk. I always hated the spectacle part - people wanting kitchens that looked like fantasy TV show sets - not because they actually understood anything about cooking. There’s really not a dream to sell right now.
I think this is true. Cookware trend has changed in the last 15 years. I remember the push was based on which cookware can heat up faster and more evenly, and many brands like All Clad tried to push from D3 to D5.
Today, cookware get less attention, and more overall the push is more about integrated cookware and colorful cookware. Cookeware sale is still going up, but the selling points are different.
I always assumed the real reason for All-Clad’s push to D5 was because their patent(s) on tri-ply expired. I think you have a point about colorful, magical-one-pan-that can-do-it-all hyped as the next great thing.
I don’t buy too many electronics. Our first Panasonic microwave lasted 30 years. When it developed a mechanical issue, I polled my FB foodie friends to help decide which microwave to buy next, and bought a Breville that cost around $800 maybe 3.5 years ago.
The dial that set the time broke about 3 months ago. It would have cost $129 for the technician to come check it, then a second visit that would cost the same, plus parts and maybe more for labour, so I was looking at $300 or so. Apparently Breville parts are hard to find in Canada right now. I donated the otherwise good microwave (it was possible to use the other buttons to set time, defrost, etc) to charity and bought a new Panasonic, which cost around $300.
I can’t really complain about most kitchenware that’s new since I tend to take care of my old stuff and use it for decades. I can say I like my old American-made Corningware much more than the new pieces I have.
I also love my AllClad skillets, that are around 5-10 years old.
I think the cookware we have now is hard to improve upon.
Instead it seems like some cookware manufacturers are trying to cut cost by downgrading the cookware they sell while still charging the same price like for instance Mauviel going from 2.5 copper to 2.0 copper while retaining the same price.
I personally don’t feel the same cookware rush any longer.
I own 2.5 and 2.0 copper, 7-PLY, 5-PLY, thick carbon steel pans, great quality ceramic non stick cookware and solid ECI pots.
I have a hard time getting excited over new stuff these days to be honest.
Seems like companies like Demeyere and Fissler have stopped trying to improve on their top lines and just accepted they can’t improve them further.
Like some others here, I’m very critical when it comes to cookware, and these days all I use and need are tried and tested old designs: Le Creuset enameled cast iron, 2.3mm stainless steel lined copper, and thick aluminum disc bottom. Not much more innovation needed for me.
I share your disinterest to some degree. One factor in mine is that there isn’t much new, and little improved. Hence my OP.
Ah, but this is not true; “can’t” and “won’t” are different things. Technologies keep progressing. That’s what allowed for clad in the '60s, nonstick, anodized aluminum, integral handles, and many other things. We take those things for granted now, but “back when”, there were many now defunct companies who thought there was no impossible improvement.
This is largely true, but I think a lot of things have to do with expectation of improvement, than the magnitude of improvement. For example, if a new cookware come out and able to slightly improvement the previous heated pan temperature difference across the pan of 130oC (on the edge) to 150oC (at the center) to temperature difference across the pan of 140oC (on the edge) to 150oC (at the center). Do people care about a nonstick cookware pan where it is manufactured in an environmentally friend way? I think the Caraway has been the new trend. It is nonstick, yet claimed to be environmentally friend and also with a very bright and personal color.
I agree on the assertion, but for me the Golden Era was over at least half a century ago. It was the era of heavy tinned copper, carbon steel knives, and marvelous porcelain, carbon steel, tinned steel, and wood. It was the era before the mad rush of appliances triggered by the original Cuisinart (still a world class FP). Chip free toasters with mechanical timers and waffle irons with seasoned plates rather than nonstick ruled the breakfast realm. I still have, and use, such things and have not really regretted my choice, although I did buy a Breville oven for the one button convenience for an autistic family member and a Magimix to replace my ancient Cuisinart for which finding parts had gotten too difficult. It seems to me that much of the following period seemed a Golden Age to many but the march of progress also led to a lot more stuff in landfills. Things mechanical that were believed to be golden were heavily dependent on plastic. The proliferation of microchips in appliances and forever chemicals that were unhealthy in pans was astronomical.
On this forum people seem to embrace legacy pieces like ancestors’ cast iron, but the availability of those gems is usually the result of some design oriented consumer buying some ultra fancy new pan set. I am sure there is lots of new and improved choice, but my daughter’s basic triply Cuisinart is awfully good stuff and seems indestructible.
I am reminded of the Robert Frost poem titled Nothing Gold Can Stay.
I had several older pieces that were made in Korea. They weren’t induction capable, so sadly I had to send them to good homes when I got my new range. I also gifted entire sets to two different recipients more than a decade ago. They haven’t been replaced yet.