Unitasker Wednesday: Nose Shower Gel Dispenser

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This week’s unitasker was picked because it has an “ewwww” factor of a million. Introducing the Nose Shower Gel Dispenser:

Putting on my Unclutterer hat for a moment, I think it’s completely unnecessary to transfer shower gel from its original packaging into a giant nose. It creates one more step to a simple process. (It’s a weak attempt at an explanation for why I think this is a unitasker, but at least I’m trying. I haven’t blown it altogether with this, right?)

However, if I take off that Unclutterer hat and replace it with my normal human hat, at face value, I think this device is plain ol’ icky! I’d probably stop taking showers with this in my bathroom.

Unitasker Wednesday: The lettuce knife

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are for entertainment — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Growing up, my mom had a giant green plastic knife that she kept in our family’s kitchen tool drawer. When I got my first apartment, she asked me if I wanted it. Seeing as I had no idea what the knife did since I’d never seen her use it, I had to ask her why I could possibly want to take it with me. She informed me it was a “lettuce knife” for the purpose of cutting lettuce. Apparently, she continued, it also prevented lettuce from browning when/if you cut it. The lettuce knife looked similar to this:

A couple weeks ago, I randomly started thinking about that knife and how strange it was. It reminded me of a movie or play prop, not something you would actually use in a kitchen.

I researched what a couple of the most trusted food scientists today had to say on the matter of traditional knives causing lettuce to brown to see if they were true.

Harold McGee in his book On Food and Cooking on page 318 strongly suggests to use a regular knife to cut lettuce:

If the leaves need to be divided into smaller pieces, this should be done with the least possible physical pressure, which can crush cells and initiate the development of off-flavors and darkened patches. Cutting with a sharp knife is generally the most effective method; tearing by hand requires squeezing, which may damage tender leaves.

Since the plastic lettuce knives are about as sharp as a plastic knife you might use at a picnic (which isn’t sharp at all) and they can’t be sharpened, this excludes the lettuce knife as a possible tool to keep lettuce from browning. (His statement also dismisses tearing leaves as a viable method to prevent browning.)

The magazine Cook’s Illustrated studied lettuce in their test kitchen for more than two weeks and came to a different conclusion than McGee, but it’s hardly an endorsement for buying a lettuce knife just to cut lettuce. They used a stainless steel blade (one with a super-thin high-carbon steel blade), the Zyliss Fresh Cut Salad Knife, and tore some, too:

Though all lettuce began showing some browning on the ribs after 10 days, none showed any signs of browning on the cut or torn surfaces. After 12 days, the heads cut with metal knives showed faint signs of browning on these surfaces, and the lettuce cut with the plastic knife followed a day later. The torn lettuce was last to brown on its ruptured edges, starting to turn at 2 weeks.

In short, the test kitchen discovered that lettuce naturally browns by 10 days, making the methods for cutting or tearing pointless since the cut/torn edges didn’t brown until a couple days later. As I said, it’s hardly an endorsement to buy a special knife.

My guess is that most people don’t keep lettuces in their refrigerators for more than 10 days, especially since they can’t be frozen. People buy lettuce and use it in a week. If you are someone who does keep lettuce for more than 10 days, the lettuce will already be brown, so using a plastic lettuce knife won’t matter.

For best results when cutting lettuce, use a very sharp, very thin, stainless steel blade and then plan to consume the lettuce immediately or up to 10 days after purchase. If you plan to cut it and store it, be sure to buy the freshest lettuce you can so as to make it those full 10 days (if the lettuce is old, it won’t even last 10 days before browning). You can also tear lettuce with your hands if you plan to use it right away, not dirtying any knives at all.

Knowing how to use and care for the knives you already own will save you from spending money on specialty tools you don’t need, especially when the specialty tools don’t improve or benefit your desired outcome.

Unitasker Wednesday: Pocket Card Tip Table

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are for entertainment — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This week’s unitasker selection is much like a retirement party. It’s an opportunity to express our gratitude for the many years of service given by the Pocket Card Tip Table:

In the time before cell phones, people carried this quaint little card around with them in their wallets. It helped to quickly determine the amount to tip someone for their services. It only served one purpose, even then, but it had utility and was convenient.

But then came the prevalent flip-style cell phone in the 1990s with its multipurpose calculator program, which made this little Tip Table less necessary. And now, making the Tip Table obsolete, there are hundreds of tip and bill splitting apps for smartphones that provide multiple features and require no space in your wallet. (Android and iPhone) Not to overlook the obvious, either, that service tipping has always been able to be determined by doing math in one’s head, one one’s fingers, or working it out on a slip of paper.

Here’s to the Pocket Card Tip Table. You served us well, old friend. Enjoy your retirement!

Unitasker Wednesday: Victor Floating Bathtub MP3 Player

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are for entertainment — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Like many people, I have a portable shower-safe speaker that can play anything from my smartphone and computer. It’s Bluetooth enabled so it also has a microphone in case I were to have a weird desire to talk hands free on my smartphone during my shower (which, who actually does that??!). The shower-safe speaker cost me $20 and has worked for four years without any issues. To summarize: my shower-safe speaker is waterproof, plays my entire music collection and podcasts, and even has phone capabilities for not a lot of money (TWENTY dollars). Mine also has buttons to advance, repeat, shuffle, etc. and I can take it anywhere like the beach or pool or hang it from the bathtub faucet during a bath. Now, let’s compare that to this week’s unitasker selection, the Victor Floating Bathtub MP3 Player:

Let’s start with the most ridiculous attribute of this week’s unitasker: It’s $250. The second most ridiculous attribute: It’s not Bluetooth enabled, so you have to load your music onto it via a USB cable from your computer. And, it only has an internal memory of 256MB (that’s right, megabytes, not gigabytes … megabytes). To put this in perspective, my computer currently has something like 50 gigabytes of music stored on it that I can beam to my inexpensive shower speaker. A third ridiculous attribute is since it’s not Bluetooth enabled you can’t talk on your phone through it (if you’re that rare breed of person who wants such a feature). The final ridiculous attribute is that this speaker doesn’t have any way to hang it in a shower, so you’re limited to only using it in the bathtub.

Thanks go to Jeri for finding this outrageous unitasker for the Unclutterer team.

Unitasker Wednesday: Eraser Dust Cleaner

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are for entertainment — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This week’s selection is one that is certainly cute and likely even works, but the vast majority of our readers simply do not need it. Introducing the Eraser Dust Cleaner:

In case you can’t tell from the image or its name, this product is a tiny broom intended to pick up dust left behind on your desk after erasing pencil marks from paper. Instead of doing what everyone on the planet does — brush the eraser dust away with your hand — this device stores the dust in a chamber that you eventually empty into the trash.

I realize some people still write with pencils on paper. I realize some people erase things. But: 1. Who has so much eraser dust that requires a specialized tool to remove it? and 2. Who is able to write on paper and erase something by hand (a two-handed process — one hand to firmly hold the paper and the other to hold the eraser and doggedly erase pencil marks) but not have the physical ability to gently brush their eraser dust off the surface of the paper? As someone who has arthritis in her hands, I can’t imagine having a use for this product. The act of erasing something is certainly the hardest part of the erasing process; sweeping off eraser dust to clean up a “mess” is a breeze.

The wasted effort to get this tiny broom out of a desk drawer, use it, empty the chamber, and return the Eraser Dust Cleaner to your desk drawer is ridiculous in comparison to wiping the dust away with your hands. As I said earlier, it’s “certainly cute and likely even works” (and it’s not even all that expensive at $8) but it’s solidly still a unitasker.

Thanks to Unclutterer’s Jacki for bringing this item to our unitasker attention.

Unitasker Wednesday: A tribute to SkyMall

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are meant for entertainment — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

National news sources reported this week that the company that publishes SkyMall magazine has filed for bankruptcy. Xhibit continues to keep the online retail section of the business active, though they have announced plans to sell Skymall.com as part of their bankruptcy process. (The in-flight magazine appears to be a goner.)

It’s a bittersweet announcement for us here at Unclutterer. It will be nice to have the temptation to buy clutter gone from the air travel experience. However, it also means a great source of inspiration for our Unitasker Wednesday column will vanish.

SkyMall has certainly given us some great column fodder over the years: The Bug Vacuum (for those times when your shoe or your vacuum aren’t available), the Automatic Paper Towel Dispenser (a device for $99 that does exactly what the perforations on the paper towel already do), the Retro Cell Phone Handset (it even comes with a cord that can get tangled!), and the Magic Wand Remote Control (you have to master Divination and Potions to be able to use it).

And we wonder where all of our needs for Abominable Snowman Yeti, Zombie Gnome, and Biker Dragon statuary will be met.

Sigh. We should have known it couldn’t last forever.

So, SkyMall, we raise our coffee mugs (obviously kept warm with our USB-powered mug warmers) to you and wish you well in your future iterations. Maybe in your post-bankruptcy state you can keep the helpful organizing items you currently carry and get rid of the clutter? An unclutterer can dream …

Have you seen a ridiculous SkyMall item in the past? In tribute, share your favorite in the comments.

Unitasker Wednesday: Waffle tongs

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

We use our waffle iron at least once a week, usually more, in our home. Ours has die-cast aluminum cooking plates that are coated with a PFOA-free nonstick finish, so we have to be careful when removing the waffles and use a tool that won’t scratch the surface of the cooking plates. We use plastic chopsticks or general-purpose silicone tongs or one of the other dozens of plastic or silicone tools we already have in our kitchen. We just don’t use a metal fork when retrieving our waffles. And we certainly don’t use the Grip-EZ Grab and Lift Silicone Tongs:

The ultra-specialization of kitchen tools is a leading cause of kitchen clutter. People buy gadgets for only one purpose thinking they have to own a tool or they’re not cooking correctly … which is rarely the case. A quality, useful kitchen tool should be able to do multiple things, and do them well. In this case, a nice pair of general purpose, long-handled, silicone-tipped tongs are essential to every kitchen and obliterate the need for waffle tongs or any other type of single-purpose tongs. This week’s unitasker has such short handles that they wouldn’t even be helpful for cooking on the stove or barbecue because you’d burn your hand getting so close to the heat source. And, since they don’t lock in a closed position, they would take up a ridiculous amount of space in your drawer.

If you have a waffle iron and don’t use it often, consider checking out Will it Waffle? by Daniel Shumski. In addition to traditional waffles, you can use your waffle maker for numerous types of food and turn it into a highly functional multitasker.

Thanks to reader Charles for unearthing this unitasker.

Unitasker Wednesday: A GoPro harness for your dog

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

You know those times when you see something and think, “that would be so cool!” And then you buy it and use it (maybe) once and seconds after you use it that one time it becomes clutter in your house? Yeah. So, that is what this week’s unitasker selection is destined to be in 99.99 percent of purchaser’s homes (police and emergency responders being the .01 percent exception). Introducing, the Lesypet Dog Pet Fetch Mounting Selfie Harness Chest Strap Belt Mount Tripod for GoPro Hero 1/2/3/3+/4 SJ4000:

Is “Lesypet Dog Pet Fetch Mounting Selfie Harness Chest Strap Belt Mount Tripod for GoPro Hero 1/2/3/3+/4 SJ4000″ really this device’s name? If it is, I may have to declare it the most cluttered product name ever. Seventeen words! It’s not catchy at all. Can you imagine bringing that up in a conversation? I’d have to look it up on my phone.

Okay, forget the name, how many movies do you actually need of “the world from your dog’s perspective – from running and jumping, to sniffing, digging and more”? (The quoted text is from the product description and that entire description is shorter than the product’s name, FYI. Clearly, I can’t forget the ridiculous name. I thought I could. I can’t. SEVENTEEN WORDS.)

And, let’s say you do need a camera strapped to the back of your dog, can’t you just duct tape a GoPro to your dog’s regular leash harness and save yourself $35?

By the way, the product description also suggests strapping it to your baby. So. Um. There’s that.

Unitasker Wednesday: Mayonnaise Churn

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

One of the mysteries in my life is my hatred for mayonnaise. I like eggs. I like oil. I like vinegar and lemon juice. But mixed together through the magic of emulsion and … gag, yuck, barf.

I understand that some people love mayonnaise, and I’ve tasted enough of it over the years to know that the freshly made stuff is significantly better than the store-bought kind. I’ve also made some three or four times, thinking this time I’m going to like it, but I never do. Anyway, when I’ve made it, I’ve used a whisk and certainly didn’t consider using this very special device: The Mayonnaise Churn:

Let’s be honest, this looks more like a torture device than it does something to make a condiment. It’s also extremely grandiose and complicated for doing something so simple. But, most of all, its name — the Mayonnaise Churn — doesn’t sit well on one’s tongue. Mayonnaise Churn. Mayonnaise Churn. (Blech!)

If you are someone who likes the vile, globby stuff that is mayonnaise, then I suggest making it without this wacky churn. You can use a balloon whisk. You can use a hand blender. You also can use a regular blender or a food processor. And, although all the recipes in the linked videos include dijon mustard, you can use dry mustard powder like Alton Brown does or none at all.

Unitasker Wednesday: Dancing Dog Speaker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Hey, Dog! What’s up? Anything new going on in your life right now? What’s that you say, Dog? You want to dance? Of course you do! Dance, Dog Speaker, dance!

Since taking care of a real dog is a lot of work, combined with the fact that dogs don’t dance, this little guy solves both those problems! The Dog Speaker dances when you attach him to your iPod or Zune (if either of those things still exist). For a whole 10 minutes you can be mildly entertained, and then you can have a piece of furry clutter requiring batteries taking up room unnecessarily in your home!

Unitasker Wednesday: Buttercup Butter Maker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Every few weeks I volunteer at my son’s school to assist with math and science lessons that involve cooking projects. I’ve helped the kids rework fractions to double and halve cookie recipes and other similar projects that give them applied understanding of what they’re learning. Right before Thanksgiving, I went in and helped the kids make butter for a unit they were doing on change and, in the specific case of transforming cream into butter, emulsion.

To do the project, we poured heavy cream into a jar or plastic container (my group used a plastic Rubbermaid food storage container about the size of a sandwich) and shook the container for a crazy long time and eventually made butter. Our arms were tired but the butter tasted yummy and the kids learned about emulsion. A few days later one of the other volunteers emailed me to let me know that we had done the lesson ALL WRONG (to clarify, she was being sarcastic, not insane) because we didn’t use a specialty jar exclusively for making the butter — The Buttercup Butter Maker:

I can’t believe we had been so foolish as to think that we could make butter in any ol’ sealed container (even though we did)! At $15 a pop, we could have done it right.

Ugh. Some unitaskers actually irk me because they seem to deliberately take advantage of consumers, and this $15 specialty jar is included in that irksomeness. (Irksomeness? I apparently make up words when irked.)

Note: Want to know how to make butter in a jar? The tutorial “How to Make Whipped Cream and Butter” is nice and even employs the fancy method of adding a cork to the jar to increase agitation and speed up the process (but you don’t have to use the cork, I didn’t with the kids).

Unitasker Wednesday: Tummy Tats

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Internet, we need to have a talk. THE talk. The one about birds and bees and babies and … pregnant belly tattoos called Tummy Tats:

You know what, now that I’ve thought about it for more than a second, maybe we don’t need to have that talk. Forget I said anything. Especially the part about fake tattoos for a woman’s pregnant belly. We don’t ever need to discuss that topic again. For the love of all that is good and decent in this world, let’s agree to never even think about such things again. And I implore you NOT to follow the product link to look at the additional pictures of Tummy Tats on Amazon because you won’t ever be able to unsee those images. Don’t do it. Just don’t.

“Under Construction” Gah!