Single Use Tools

It’s Foodie Friday and on a Friday many weeks ago I wrote about how I generally have a disdain for single purpose kitchen tools, especially those that are solutions in search of a problem. I used an avocado slicer as an example but one could just as easily place things like dehydrators or those margarita machines I see everywhere on the list.  The tasks those tools accomplish – the problems they solve – are easily solved just as well by existing tools – an oven or a blender in the two aforementioned cases.

I figured in the interest of fairness to all the really useful singe purpose tools I should be fair and balanced (to coin a phrase) and admit that I do use certain single purpose tools on a regular basis.  Melon ballers, for example.  Oh, I know I could just chop the fruit into nice little chunks, but melon balls are so elegant.  Besides, while I suppose one could tourne melon slices with a paring knife the way one tournes a carrot to make it rounder, the melon baller is a faster, better solution to a real problem (even if it isn’t on the order of most serious problems).  The fact that you can core apples with it as well is a bonus!  Stick blenders are another one of my favorites.  Yes, one could use the stand blender but if you’ve ever scalded yourself transferring hot stuff into a blender you know why a stick blender is a smart solution.

As usual, there’s a business point.  I was talking the other day with a potential client about a business he’s in the midst of starting.  As he went on about it I asked about the problem he’s solving and why his solution is better than others who are attacking it.  That’s a question one can’t ask often enough even about an existing business.  It gets the business to the point of differentiation – we’re solving it less expensively, we’re solving it faster, we’re solving it with a more user-friendly environment – that becomes the platform for almost everything else we do in the business.

Great single-use tools found a cooking problem and solved them in a real way.  Bad single-use tools just take up a lot of space and are easily replaced,  The same can be said about bad businesses.   What are consumers saying about yours?

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