Pros: Easy to pour; cool whistle
Cons: Easy to break; tough to clean; needs to be emptied right away; hot handle
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
First posted 10/11/2002
I keep buying Oxo products. Sometimes I’m not entirely sure why – I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with them. It seems like so many of them break in one way or another after not so much use. But the concepts are just so darn handy, particularly given my tendonitis, that it’s been worth the duds in order to get the things that worked.
Oxo products are generally designed to make life easier, particularly for people with problems like arthritis. There are a gazillion little Oxo kitchen gadgets, most with oversized, comfy handles.
The uplift teakettle (I have the stainless steel two-quart variety) is designed so that when you lift the handle, the pouring spout automatically opens. Great idea – no messing with a little thingie that you have to pull while lifting. It helps to avoid cramping already-pained fingers. There’s a comfy, thick handle designed to be easy on your fingers. The kettle is of decently thick metal, resulting in fairly even heating and strong construction. Best of all, the “whistle” is this low-pitched foghorn-like thing, that doesn’t trigger my innate and inexplicable fear of alarms. So what’s the problem?
Rust potential: The instructions for the kettle warned that if you leave water in it, it can rust – you need to be sure to empty it right away after using it. If you have housemates who don’t bother to empty the kettle after using it, or guests who are used to kettles that they can leave full of water on the stove, this can get mildly frustrating.
Cleaning: If you happen to leave the kettle on the stove and someone fries something nearby, it is remarkably difficult to get the grease off.
Hot handle and tough lid: The handle gets quite hot, unlike that of some other kettles I’ve used. I definitely need a hot pad in order to pick it up. The lid can also be a bit tough to remove, particularly if you have painful hands, which seems to defeat the purpose of having the easy-on-the-hands design.
If you have a housemate who fills up the kettle all the way to the lid a couple of times and boils the water as hard as possible, it’ll do weird things to the lid seal, and you’ll never get the kettle to whistle again. I once had a housemate who liked to do everything cooking-related in as extreme a manner as possible (burners on highest setting no matter what, stirring things so hard they sloshed all over the stove, and so on). Within a couple of weeks of his getting his hands on this thing – no more whistle. Very annoying. (Okay, so that might be more a function of him than of the kettle, but it still would have been nice to see a warning about not filling the kettle too full.)
I still used my Oxo kettle for some time, but more out of inertia, apathy, and a small budget than anything else. Someone I know once posited that perhaps the poor quality execution was because Oxo wanted their products to be affordable to arthritic senior citizens on social security. Yet, when I look up this kettle at Cooking.com, it’s roughly $50. So I have a hard time understanding why it is that so many of my Oxo products fall apart so quickly. (And no, not all of them can be blamed on that old housemate.)