That’s right, yall.  2 weeks in a row, I’m just rehashing something I did last year.  Listen: 2021 has been a year of people insisting through gritted teeth that everything’s going back to normal, so there’s been much less cursed shit for me to yell my 2 cents into the void about this year.  

But buying stuff? Buying stuff’s eternal, babey.  Or so our capitalist overlords what us to think.  Turns out, Black Friday sales were pretty abysmal this year, so I have a hunch that a lot of these companies might be trying extra-hard this year to really cram the gift guides with products no one’s buying, just to offload their bloated inventory on the unsuspecting masses.  Won’t somebody do something to sort out just how useful these gift guides are?

(It’s me.  I’m doing that.  You read the title of the post, right? Look, as an added challenge, I won’t use any of the sites I used last year.  And look at the bright side, if you actually needed gift ideas, there’s still a chance to get these by Christmas. If not, you can still watch me make fun of things.)

Bon Appetit

(What? No. No.  How do they keep weasiling their way back in??)

(Also, it seems worth mentioning that this one is specifically a baker’s gift guide)

The Good

  • Pretty much everything in the “Extremely Necessary” category.  Like, yes, I would agree that measuring cups and baking pans are, in fact, nice things to have on hand.  I would definitely consider asking someone if they needed any of these, though.  Most people tend to not need 2 sets of measuring spoons.
  • Kitchenaid Stand Mixer:  If you have $500 (or, apparently $260, for what is probably a baby model) lying around this is probably the best foodie gift you could possibly give.  

The Bad

  • Pastry Levelers: They’re strips of plastic that you use as spacers to make sure the dough you’re rolling out stays the perfect thickness.  Seems like a good idea, right?  Well, as far as I can tell, these are made out of a smooth plastic that doesn’t have anything to keep it from sliding around the table while you’re trying to roll the dough out.  Also, for someone who’s just getting started out or otherwise doesn’t have a rolling pin yet, there’s plenty of rolling pins on the market that come with spacers that fit on the ends of the rolling pin that work much better than this and only cost $5-10 more than the rolling pin by itself, as opposed to spending $27 on this.

The What-the-Fuck

  • Kitchen Timers: The guide says that no, the timer on your phone isn’t enough.  This sounds like something that someone just trying to sell timers might say.  Also, considering how much oven temperatures can vary, anyone who lives by timers to the T is just setting themselves up for failure.
  • The fact that a digital scale is considered “Nice to Have” and not “Extremely Necessary.”  Like, so many baking recipe sites and books nowadays are foregoing volume measures in favor of by weight (because it really is better), baking scales are slowly becoming a necessity.  

Final verdict: For the most part, actual, practical gift ideas, even if a lot of it is things that anyone who’s already baking would already have anyway.  

Food Network

The Good

  • Goldbelly “Best Of” Subscription:  I feel like if you’re going to give someone an edible gift, it should be some sort of monthly subscription box, so they think of you every time they get a new box, as opposed to eating the thing once and being done with it forever.  Could easily backfire, though, if the subscription turns out to not be very good, but keeps coming anyways.

The Bad

  • Schermer Pecans Baker’s Box: It’s… $41… for 2 lbs of pecans……… why………..
  • Sfoglini Pasta Sampler: Much like the above pecans, this is $25 for 4 lbs of pasta.  I mean, really, even if it’s really fancy pasta, I would be kind of confused if someone gave me pasta as a gift for any occasion.  
  • Travel Coffee Set: I’ve heard these gimmicky “travel” coffee brewing devices rarely work particularly well, although to be honest I really don’t know how the “traditional Indian coffee filter” being toted here works

The What-the-Fuck

  • Popcorn Factory Advent Calendar: For those of you not familiar, an advent calendar is something where you, in short, get one small gift for each day of December leading up to Christmas.  Don’t give one to someone the day of Christmas. 

Final verdict: I was all set to do this whole bit about how “much like Food Network’s programming in recent years, this list is more for people who like eating than people who like cooking.”  Then I noticed at the bottom of the list they had links to other gift guides, including ones for “serious home cooks.”  So, that being said, most of this list was probably perfectly fine for what it is, it just strikes me as odd how much they really want to push pasta as a gift idea.

Architectural Digest  

Why is an architectural publication posting foodie gift guides? Who fucking knows.

The Good:

  • Tilt Denim Apron: At first, I was wondering why the pocket was at an angle like that, but, as the description explains, it makes reaching in and grabbing the contents within faster and easier.  Upon reading that, I spent a solid minute reaching in and out of my shirt pocket to test just how cumbersome it can be.  So, yeah, I’m all for that.
  • Fellow Corvo EKG Electric Kettle:  I kinda wish I had thought to look for an electric kettle that had a temperature control when I bought the one I have now.  This one sure looks nicer than mine, anyways.

The Bad

  • Thermomix TM6: What even is this thing.  The description basically wants us to believe it can do everything an Instant Pot, stand mixer and food processor can.  Even if it is $1,500, I refuse to believe anything claiming to do that many things can do even one of them right.  Also, “the software updates through the machine like a Tesla,” which is just about the worst sentence I could imagine to describe a kitchen appliance.  Why does it need software updates? Why does it need software?  Why.

The What-the-Fuck

  • Meyer Lemon Tree: Not an inherently bad gift for someone you know is good with plants (I’m just bitter that I’m not), but the idea of giving someone a lemon tree as a holiday gift is just too much for me.  Also, they’re kind enough to let you know upfront that this tree is prohibited in 5 states.
  • Jipa Jipa Placemats:  This is more about a personal gripe than the mats themselves (they look fun and colorful, this isn’t an attack on these specific mats).  What is the purpose of a placemat, exactly?  Is it to make cleanup easier?  Because if we’re talking about a table with a tablecloth on it, there’s no way any potential spills are going to be limited to JUST the area of the placemats.  And if it’s a table with no tablecloth, isn’t it easier just to wipe it up??

Final Verdict: The things this list gets right, they get really right.  Some of it is things like “Elon Musk’s weird multitasking Instant Pot” and “A Tree.”  A lot of it is just kinda there.  If nothing else, this does provide an interesting picture what either the writers or readers (or both) of Architectural Digest think food is.

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