It’s that time of year again, when we’re forced to ask ourselves “fuck, how does giftgiving work again?”  While the pandemic might have vastly reduced the number of white elephant/secret santa type gift exchanges, if you’re anything like me, you a.) don’t know what to ask for, because you’re an adult and just go buy things when you want them, and b.) your immediate family has no determinable personality so giving an actually thoughtful gift is a nightmare.

Thankfully, pretty much every single website out there has their own holiday gift guide. 

Problem is, I suspect some of these companies just trying to sell us something might be trying to… sell us something.  By which I mean they’re looking to find ways to pawn off their surplus products no one actually wants. And even if that wasn’t the case, SOOOOOO many of these lists are mind-numbingly mundane and repetitive (I’m looking at you, every “Men’s Guide” that’s just a bunch of leather wallets, straight razors and beer paraphernalia)  Who’s to say if any of these gift ideas are any good or not?

Me.  Me’s to say.  

So here’s my guide to the holiday gift guides, aiming to show which of these foodie publications is most in touch with what their readers want in a holiday gift.  It may be with noting that none of these sites are really involved with producing the products mentioned and that each list is just things that their writers liked, so, optimistically, there shouldn’t be too much random useless garbage.  Also, uhh, Christmas is Friday.  I’m not saying it’s too late if you’re looking for actual gift ideas, but you’re probably gonna have to pay out the ass for overnight shipping at this point.  This is mostly an exercise in making fun of stuff.


The Good
  • Bernzomatic Kitchen Torch: I’m 90% sure this is the same model we use at my work, so yes, I will vouch that this is a good torch.  I can’t really think of anything you can use a torch for other than creme brulee, quickly searing tuna tataki, or getting a flambé to start the easy way, but that’s a different matter.
  • Salvaged Wood Cookbook/Tablet Stand: While the aesthetic of this particular one isn’t really my thing, I will say that a cookbook stand is one of those things that might come in handy on a cramped kitchen counter.  It looks like this one also has a little hole for sticking the charging cable for your tablet through, so that’s a plus. 
The Bad
  • Cake-in-a-Mug: I remember when cake-in-a-mug became a thing when I was in college.  I remember it never really working as well as promised.  Unless you or the person you’re getting this for doesn’t have an oven, don’t get this.  Especially not for $20.  For half that price you can buy a mug and a whole box of cake mix, and if you want to add a personalized touch you can weigh out the individual cake mix portions for them.
  • Bacon shirt: It’s not 2010 anymore, you can’t just slap the word “bacon” on a shirt and call it a day.
  • Churro Maker: This thing looks like a fucking Play-doh extruder.  Churros can be made with a piping bag with a star tip, which are both cheaper and more versatile than this… thing.
  • Hot Dog Toaster: There’s a reason it’s marked down from $30 to $20, and it’s because it’s a kitchen appliance that does one thing (probably poorly) and will probably just take up space on your counter.
The What-the-Fuck
  • Sriracha2Go Keychain: Listen, we all love sriracha.  But do you know what’s better than sriracha? Not having 5,000 things on your keychain.  Maybe it’s different for people with purses, but I remember getting a sushi keychain charm a while back that was even bigger than your ordinary piece of nigiri, so after like, 2 days of trying to cram all of that in my pocket I eventually had to take it off.  And really, you can’t go one meal without sriracha? 
  • Pink Lemonade Candle: I’m putting it here because it’s not even pink.  I’m sick of your lies.
  • Donut Warming Mug:  This whole thing is a garbage fire. When I went to investigate what sets this apart from just, like, putting a donut on top of a mug, I found that this company hasn’t even set up their domain for their Shopify site, so you couldn’t even buy this if you wanted to.

Final Verdict: 50+ ideas doesn’t mean much when half of it isn’t anything anyone wants.


The Good
  • Five Two Silicone Oven Mitts: I (by which I mean my parents) have a pair of silicone pot holders like this, so I can confirm they are some of the better once on the market.  The fact that these are magnetic and can be slapped against any metal surface when not in use intrigues me.
  • Food52 X Staub Round Cocotte: Ok, so yes, the whole enameled dutch oven craze may be a little overrated.  I have a small Staub that I picked up on sale for $100, and while I’ve only used it a couple of times I do think it was a worthwhile investment.  It’s a good gift idea if you have a rich aunt who wants to know what you want, or something like that.  (Also yes, Food52 is, in fact, the only one on this list where they do have their own store and regularly do collaborations like this.  I’m not saying you have to specifically get the Food52 version or even a Staub, just saying these kinds of dutch ovens are sorta, kind, almost worth the hype.)
  • Dish Rack With Drain Spout: Yes, this is a very boring gift.  But, it’s also something I would have loved to have at my last apartment.  Maybe more of a housewarming gift than a holiday gift, but I’m feeling generous so I’ll put it under “good.”
The Bad
  • TRUFF Truffle-Infused Hot Sauce: I just can’t imagine truffle and spicy playing well together.  The person who put it on the list seems to expect this level of incredulousness. Maybe someday I’ll try mixing hot sauce with truffle oil on my own.  But I’m not paying $40-$72 for this. 
The What-the-Fuck
  • Lovely Taper Candles: That’s not even food related. And it’s literally the first thing they put on the list.  Why.

Final Verdict: A much smaller list, but more quality ideas.  Even if some of them are pushing their own products.


The Good
  • BALMUDA The Toaster:  Let’s ignore the fact that this Japanese appliance has the Japanese word for “useless” in its name (oh shit is that a JoJo reference?) A while back I wrote that while I hate most kitchen gadgets, I would, in a heartbeat, jump at the chance to get a home-version of an industrial combi-oven, which can be set to bake, steam, or a hybrid steam/bake setting.  While this unfortunately doesn’t have a full-blown steam setting, it does have a number of different humidity settings to do hybrid steam/baking, so it’s probably the closest we’ll be getting anytime soon.
  • “In Bibi’s Kitchen” Cookbook plus Spicewalla Spices: The idea of a cookbook bundled with the spices needed to make the recipes is ingenious.   
The Bad
  • Justice of the Pies “Cutie Pie” Earrings: I will give them some credit, as apparently this is merch from a wildly popular Chicago pie bakery.  If you, like me, didn’t know that, you’d think they were just really fucking ugly earings.
The What-the-Fuck
  • Laundry Room Studios, the Guest Check Collection: I put this in the what-the-fuck in an endearing way.  Posters of all the Dumb Shit Customers Say™ will always be a perfect gift for anyone who’s worked customer service.  The only downside of these is the fact that they’re all relatively small, at about the size of a standard sheet of paper.
  • Heliograf Fish-Shaped Light: It’s… a lamp… shaped like a fish… wild.

Final verdict: Still generally good ideas, although a lot of merch for restaurants I’ve never heard of and sorta generic sounding subscription boxes.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like