I’m fairly certain that I’m the only guy on my street who got an Instant Pot for Christmas.
At least the only guy who got a Pioneer Woman Instant Pot. With flowers painted on it. Really flowery flowers.
Now, before you assume that when Santa dropped it off, he also picked up my Man Card, let me explain.
I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets. And, the Pioneer Woman ran a small bit about my momma’s cast iron skillet in her magazine last fall.
So, with my allegiance to kitchen gadgets, and now, Ree Drummond, it was inevitable that I’d get an Instant Pot with flowery Pioneer Woman flowers on it.
I love this thing.
I cooked a pound of dried (not soaked) pinto beans in 45 minutes. And they were done. Not only were they done, but with the ham hock I threw in with the beans, they were amazing.
I’ve soaked pintos for an entire day and not been able to cook them in 45 minutes.
Then, I did asparagus in 2 minutes. I cooked chicken thighs and potatoes in no time at all.
Unlike the Panini makers Santa dropped off a few years ago, I predict the Instant Pot will hang around.
However, if you’re like me and were pretty much unaware that almost everyone else in the world already had an Instant Pot, you’d be excited too.
I mean, I knew that they made them and that they advertised them on TV a lot, but I truly didn’t realize what a worldwide phenomenon this all-in-one pressure cooker/slow cooker has become.
The story of how the Instant Pot became the small appliance we didn’t know we needed is almost as great as the actual cooker.
During the 2008 economic crash, a Canadian man named Robert Wang decided to spend some of his new, free time perfecting a 7-in-one cooker. The design of the Instant Pot has been around since 2006, but Wang and a couple of his buddies felt that they could improve it.
They were correct.
Before you try to take Robert’s Man Card away, know that this guy has a PhD in computer science and specializes in artificial intelligence.
There’s a video on YouTube of Wang explaining what led him to the project. He and his wife had small children and he wanted a faster, more convenient way to prepare healthier food for his family.
His version of the Instant Pot concept proved to be a winner. He went from selling one or two a day, beginning in 2010, to becoming one of Amazon’s preferred sellers. That means Amazon stocks it for him and provides customer support for the product.
In the world of Amazon, that’s a big deal.
In the world of the Pioneer Woman, having her put her name and brand on your product is a big deal.
As I made my first few dishes in my Instant Pot, I tried to think of the other home appliances that have caught on to the extent this one has.
I could think of two: The microwave and the Crockpot.
My parents were one of the first people in our extended family to get a microwave. It was the mid-70s and it was made by Litton. It was also as heavy as a Pontiac Bonneville, and just about as big.
My sister, cousins and I would stare at the food heating in the microwave in much the same way we stared at the 3:30 Movie on Channel 3 when they were airing “The Fly.” We were mesmerized.
The women in our family were impressed, but they were also amazed by the Crockpot when it debuted. You could put a cheap, tough cut of meat in one and set it on low for several hours and the meat would fall apart. That was about as impressive as watching a bowl of soup heat in a microwave in less than a minute.
Crockpot is a brand name, but it has come to be the term people use to refer to all slow cookers. The same as all tissues are called Kleenex, and all soft drinks are called Cokes.
Some of the men in the family didn’t think much of either – the microwave or the Crockpot. They didn’t understand why either was a big deal. But that wasn’t surprising since almost none of them did any of the cooking.
There were comments that the Litton Microwave Oven was an expensive toy and that microwaves were a passing fad that wouldn’t last.
They were correct that a microwave was expensive in 1975, but they were wrong about its longevity. When I got married, the duplex we moved into was so small that we only had room for a hot plate or a microwave. Not both.
We bought a microwave.
The Instant Pot, in some ways, is the best of these same worlds. It can cook fast with pressure and steam, slow like a Crockpot, or a combination of the two. You can also cook vegetables on high heat and brown meat.
Mr. Wang figured out that in today’s world of trying to do too much with too little time, people weren’t going to change and slow down. So, he perfected a product that keeps up.
And the Instant Pot isn’t just selling in America. It’s selling well all over the world. There’s a button on the front of the machine that says, ‘Porridge.’ That’s what the Brits call oatmeal.
After I posted a picture on Facebook of my new flowery Pioneer Woman cooking gadget, immediately, women and men replied that I was going to love my gift. And it wasn’t just one or two women and men. It was hundreds.
They’d already figured out what I was just learning. The Instant Pot is likely to join the microwave and Crockpot on the list of small appliances found in most homes.
If you already have one, please send me your favorite recipe.
If you don’t have one, I recommend the flowery flowered Pioneer Woman model.
Man Card not included.
©2019 John Moore
John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, is available on Amazon. Email John at John@TheCountryWriter.com.