Technostalgia

Something Better: Microwaves

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Cook thoroughly. Keep frozen. For food safety and quality, follow these cooking instructions. Microwave Oven (Time and temperature settings may vary due to differences in your particular oven or microwave. Always cook this product to 160 degrees F prior to serving): 1. Remove burrito from package. 2. Place in paper towel on a microwaveable plate. 3. Cook on High power using the guide below. Number of Burritos: 1; Frozen: 60-75 seconds. Number of Burritos: 2 or more; Frozen: 40-60 seconds for each burrito. 4. Allow to stand 1-2 minutes prior to serving. (directionsforme.org)

And really what you are going to get is a burrito that will scald and burn you, yet be cold and possibly still frozen in the center. Delicious tastiness, not so much. But just such is the nature of cooking in a microwave. We have moved from dials to buttons, from timers to presets, from single cook levels to defrost settings that somehow all work the same, and yet the basic microwave hasn’t really changed, or evolved, or improved. In this second of the series we started last month, let’s consider another somewhat entrenched technology, and wonder, why hasn’t anyone thought of something better than a microwave? Something faster, something more thorough, something…better?

Image via ebay.com.

  • Devin

    I knew someone who had that exact microwave, it was the most amazing thing I've ever seen in a kitchen.

  • Felis_Concolor

    My father was a radar man in WWII; he cheerfully explained the workings of our new Amana Radarange – along with why it was so named – when our household entered the early adopter bracket in the early 70s.

    6 months after our new appliance saw its first use, our kitchen experienced its first microwave accident when our unusually durable dinnerware demonstrated why steel cored ceramics don't take to inside-out heating very well.

    If anyone still has one of those heavy bastards in their kitchen, I'll cheerfully pack up and ship the matching Amana-specific popcorn popper their way, no charge, just as soon as I find all 3 pieces.

  • Microwaves have gotten worse over the years, ever since they were perfected by adding a turntable. I'm sure they're more efficient and maybe even safer now, but the control panels are totally over featured. You only need a timer and maybe 5 power settings (and really, it's full power modulated by pulse duration.) Energy knob on top, time knob on bottom. Energy over time. That's cooking.

    Take my Sharp 1100 watt Carousel

    <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_G2wsGzUirEQ/S6ARSWomkmI/AAAAAAAAAjU/pVY2mJguld4/s320/SharpCarouselMicrowave"&gt;

    Some genius design student decided it would be an improvement to hide the buttons on the inside, so you can only operate them with the door open. Resulting in just about everybody putting their food in, closing the door and staring at it non-plussed until one of us explains it. Real user friendly. And forget adjusting your timing or power on the fly; you have to stop, open the door, reprogram, shut the door, and re-start. 5 steps rather than 3.

    This may become a recurring theme in this series, things that are simple and elegant and perfect right out of the gate that are then ruined by generations of design majors looking for a capstone project being asked by pompous assed professors, "How would you improve this?" "Ooo! I know this one! More buttons!" and the next year's crop will add, "Hide the buttons!"

  • $kaycog

    Can a 'better' microwave melt your cellphone like this?

    <img src="http://fairfieldproject.wdfiles.com/local–files/recommended-watching/cellphone.gif"width="500"/&gt;

  • Metric Wrench

    Me mother lusted after a microwave oven with such ferocity that she took a part time job selling Amana Radar Ranges, with the promise that if she sold a certain number of them, she could keep the demonstrator. Me father was dead set against it, thinking that it was a clever scheme and she would be tricked out of the unit somehow, but she stuck to her guns and off we went.

    Me brother and I were commanded to sit still and smile as she laid on the charm, nuking meatloaf, scrambled eggs, and the coup-d-grace, brownies prepared by a four and seven year old – from scratch, zapped and done in ten minutes. Me and me bro, we had to move those microwave ovens, as the sultans sang ten years later.

    I vividly remember the day. Me mother outsold the five state area, and through her charms and threats, obtained a new one for herself rather than the demonstrator. A guy with a rug on his head and a paisley suit brought it out to the house in a brand new Vega wagon. Pappi and him hauled it into the kitchen, and the demo rolled on out. Mr. Fashion then smothered dear mum with all kinds of bonus programs to entice her to continue her conquest of the midwest, but she refused. Said she and her boys were tired of driving hours to every K-Mart and Sears Roebuck in god's creation. Thank you Mom!

    We ran the snot out of that microwave. It lasted 30 years of cooking and various amateur scientific experiments. The unit had a manual dial for microwave power, rather than the set the pulse length of modern units, making it ideal for holding plasma over a lit candle, taking grapes just to the edge of burst but holding them there, etc. Alas, the magnetron finally burned up sufficiently that we weren't able to frankenstein it back together.

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