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Shel_B

Quality - Who Cares?

34 posts in this topic

Over the past year or so I've looked for and purchased a number of items for my kitchen, as well as plenty of things to use in other situations. The biggest issue that comes up, at least for me, is quality, or, more specifically, the lack of quality.

Recently I've been looking for vanilla powder. I was appalled at the number of brands that claim "pure" vanilla powder is in their bottles, but further examination shows they are no such thing. One company's main ingredient is maltodextrine, another company uses silicone dioxide sprayed with vanilla - and these are but two of numerous companies that claim purity but don't deliver.

While looking for cutting boards I was stunned by the number of boards, even from well-known and reputable manufacturers, that literally came apart at the seams. What kind of crap quality is that, especially from a board costing $100.00 or so?

A few months ago I was looking for bamboo utensils, and came across some marketed by a well-known Food Network personality. Many, perhaps as much as half, of the reviews claimed that the utensils split apart and broke. Looking carefully at the images of the utensils, it was clear that they were made by gluing and laminating, rather than from a solid piece of bamboo. That design practically guarantees problems. How friggin' difficult is it to make a bamboo spoon that stands up to everyday kitchen use. I have some that are more than 30-years old, and have not had a spot of trouble with 'em.

Toots bought a faucet water filter from a well-known company. It's been installed less than three weeks, and it's already splitting apart and leaking. The construction of this new filter is light weight and crap compared to the same brand of filter she replaced after almost ten years of use.

I was going to buy a pair of Levi's jeans, but the material was thin, the stitching of poor quality, and the material was already starting to come apart, before ever even trying them on, much less wearing them and washing them. Crap!

I bought a new bed at Macy's. It took them THREE delivery tries to get the right bed in the right size into my apartment. They kept bringing the wrong bed! Gimme a break!

I bought some bread sticks at Trader Joes, and every one of them was broken, sometimes in several places. When I returned them, the cashier said that it happens a lot - it seems that the packing of the bread sticks doesn't take into account their fragility.

What the hell is happening out there? Do any of you encounter problems with quality, and how do you feel about it?

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 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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Do any of you encounter problems with quality, and how do you feel about it?

All the time!!!!

I try to live as minimalist as possible and buy the best that I can. That's all that I can do.

Manufactures are only giving most "consumers" what they want...cheap stuff! Price sells!

You can include food in this as well....there's a lot of crappy cheap food available!

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~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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As demand rises (due to a global trend towards greater prosperity), a lot of corners can be cut to meet supply. What's the term, race to the bottom? Basically, if there's enough demand, people will buy whatever.

I have a not too cheap cutting board that is less than 6 months old and it's splitting - and I dry it upright.

As you pointed out, this isn't a problem just in food-related stuff, it's everything. I'm in the market for some new home goods, and the reviews for almost all state "not as good as they were a few years ago"

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I care, damnit!

You have my sympathy, as I experience this also, and far too often! This is why I only buy poly cutting boards, and metal or one-piece plastic utensils. I've also come to the point that I'll only buy pots and pans, if they have some type of gaurantee involved. I'm really quick to call those 800- numbers, let me tell you!

Food quality is really my thing, though, as far as grocery stores go. Nothing pisses me off like getting a box of arborio rice, which is only whole in the display window of the package. Same thing when I get home to find that I've purchased a brick, rather than stack of tortillas for a meal...

It makes me sad, really...

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I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...

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I've always thought that the more expensive and product is, the better the quality will be and awhile ago, that may not have been true, and in some instances that still isn't true, but I think it is, which is unfortunate. My next two purchases that I plan on making in the next month or so is a cutting board by The Boardsmith and a Konosuke HD2 gyuto, plus a Japanese 150mm petty knife and paring knife eventually. I have spent, literally, over a month researching and deciding upon EXACTLY what I wanted, looking for the very best in my price point, reading reviews, posting on multiple forums, emailing suppliers, researching knife sharpeners in my area, and looking hard at the longevity of the products. Like DiggingDogFarm said, I guess I'm all about being a minimalist in the sense that I only spend money on what I consider essential for myself and by the big ticket item now so that I don't have to spend the money later to fix something or upgrade it.

I think that is turning into the world some of us may be forced to live in. I don't have the patience for things breaking after a few months, let alone weeks. Then when we talk about food, that is an entirely other thing. Fortunately I live down the street from a Stew Leonard's, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Gourmet grocery store, and a butcher that is probably around 1 of 10 or so nose to tail butchers of locally sourced and responsibly raised meat in the USA. I'm practically given not even given the option to not buy quality foods. And while my bank account might complain about that from time to time, I'm content with that.

Anyway, I didn't realize how frustrated this made me feel (or made me used to feel) until I started typing, haha, but this was fun!

edit: and as far as that "not as good as it used to be" thing with kitchen appliances, that annoys me. I'm only 25 so I never got to experience the golden age of say, Cuisinart, or something like that! That does get frustrating!


Edited by Robenco15 (log)

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A: You make a lousy toaster for £1 and sell it for £6. It breaks after a year and the buyer has to get another one. Over 20yrs you get £100 profit. The buyer spends £120 on toasters over 20yrs.

B: You make a decent toaster for £35 and sell it for £130. It breaks after 20yrs and the buyer has to get another one. Over 20yrs you get £95 profit. The buyer spends £130 on toasters over 20yrs.

Economically speaking, both parties benefit from transacting in lousy tat. The ones that suffer are the workers that make the cheap toasters, the nerves of the buyer and the environment.

As far as food goes, supermarkets exert monopoly buying power to lower prices, which means most people shop there rather than at artisan producers and specialist suppliers. The supermarket can then reduce quality and so further reduce prices knowing that they have a captive clientele.

One piece of sharp practice that I have observed more than once is that the supermarket will suddenly increase the quality of its own brand offering a lot and raise the price just a tiny bit, driving its branded competitor out and ceasing to stock them. It will then proceed to reduce the quality of its own brand item over time (keeping the price the same) so that it ends up inferior to the original own brand product but at a higher price.


Edited by Plantes Vertes (log)

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This is why I only buy poly cutting boards, and metal or one-piece plastic utensils.

Poly boards, mostly solid wood or melamine utensils (except for metal tongs) and (almost always) NSF-rated pots and pans from well-known companies. My new saucier is a Vollrath, my basic pots and pans are mostly Vollrath. I have S/S mixing bowls from Tramontina. These various things just seem to hold up for me. And if you have read other equipment-related posts from me you know I am not gentle with my gear.

Edited to add: My decades-old Revere Ware pans are still going strong. My FIL asked about getting a new one and since they went off-shore the reviews talk a lot about warping. I lent him one of my extra pans instead.

I hate plastic utentils and bowls because they are so hard to get oily residue off of. I particularly dislike plastic measuring cups - even the "heavy-duty" ones break on me. Except for wire whisks I try to avoid metal utensils because I do have a lot of non-stick pots and pans and I don't want to worry about grabbing the wrong spoon or whatever. I don't care for glass because I worry about dropping and breakage.

My wife's knife block and our utensil crocks. For most people they will probably think there are too many but I don't like to worry about trying to clean and re-use them when I am doing a major amount of cooking at once - and there are 4 adults living here who all cook.

IMAG0403.jpg


Edited by Porthos (log)
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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

 

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My wife's knife block and our utensil crocks. For most people they will probably think there are too many but I don't like to worry about trying to clean and re-use them when I am doing a major amount of cooking at once - and there are 4 adults living here who all cook.

attachicon.gifIMAG0403.jpg

I'm having a utensil crock custom made for me. I did the same thing recently for a cutting board. Fortunately, there are a few craftsmen (and women) in my circle of friends.


 ... Shel

"... ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself "

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My hall closet doubles as my cupboard and there are a pot and a pan in it still unused in their original cartons. They're they're duplicates of a pot and pan I have in my kitchen so if I ever have to replace the ones in my kitchen I won't have to buy some "new" and "improved" version. My old Revere Copper Bottom tea kettle gave out years ago and I've never been able to replace. I went on Amazon, and a one star review said "This is not your grandmother's Revere tea kettle". Instead I am making do with a Kitchen Aid whistling tea kettle has dribbled since the day I bought it, and I really intensely dislike it. A person really shouldn't have to put up with an appliance or kitchen utensil that he despises on a daily basis.

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"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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It is very frustrating and annoying. Annoying when it doesn't send you into a rant about how things 'used to be' in the kitchen appliance realm.

Things I inherited from my Mother have lasted for decades. That was before the time of plastic gears. New things bought in the past couple of decades are toast. Replaced over and over. Aarrghhh!


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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I've had good luck with my purchases over the last 40 years. I am still using a set of pots and pans that I purchased when I was 18 from a custom kitchen store. They were made in Norway and I've long forgotten the brand name. A few years ago, I also got a set of All-Clad pots and pans as a gift, and we have a huge collection of Lodge cast iron. Out of all those, I've lost a Dutch oven (Lodge) that exploded on the stovetop and a saucepan from the Nordic set that had the handle come off and I couldn't get it repaired. Oh! And a wok pan and whistling tea kettle that I just wore out.

Electric appliances just wear out. I'm on my third food processor in 35 years, but I still have my original KitchenAid mixer. Toasters and coffee pots don't seem to last long; 5-7 years maybe. My cutting boards are old Boos Block boards that I've had for 25 years or more and they are still in good shape. I clean them after each use and oil them quarterly.

Knives. I have enough to start a surgery. Some are sentimental (FIL was a butcher) and the others are workhorses. Bamboo utensils are disposable, as are plastic and rubber spatulas. By disposable, I mean you don't buy them and expect to pass them on to the grandchildren. Like Porthos, I have a utensil forest. I am fond of my tongs and will miss them when they give up the ghost, but there are more at the store.

The most recurring expense I have are tea towels and pot holders. I stain them with sauces and burn them with oven racks. My favorite apron is older than my youngest child and looks like it's never been washed because of the stains, but I love it. I have several others, but I don't like them and don't use them.

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I have been very lucky with my Rival blender...750 watt and variable speed....it was made in 1966 and belonged to my Grandmother.

I like the blender so much that I looked on eBay many times in search of another one as a back-up....just in case.

Well, I was very lucky to find one that's identical to the one I have and it was NEW in the box....never used!!!

EG7aZY9.jpg

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~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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I am in a argumentative mood. So deal with it. :laugh:

I don't think there is a lack of quality products, as a matter of fact I am thankful that we are in an age so overwhelmed with amazing sophisticated goods and services.

Bear with me.

Have you looked into what is in front of you? the computer monitor?

There are may be 2 million pixels on the screen, each smaller than a speck of dusts. Each pixel actually has three chips (R,B,G), 3 x 2,000,000 = 6,000,000 devices. Each device is wired electrically to be controllable to varying degrees of brightness, and all of them must be perfect, or the screen is to be rejected. And what about the software written to run each of the devices separately to give you the nice picture? How do you do that without absolute quality control. How do you make a 256 GB (256,000,000,000 devices, each one can be turned on or off) flash drive that is the size of a thumbnail?

For a given size of population, there is going to be smart people, ordinary people, and morons. When all the smart people and ordinary people are drafted to make high-tech items we enjoy every second of the day, there left only morons to make less important utensils.

dcarch

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Advances in computer stuff have nothing to do with the chiseling that goes on with appliances.

When even the highest-end mixers use cheap components eg plastic gears...in order to meet the price point set by retailers, there's problem with quality.

Of course, most people who get a plastic KA mixer never stress it enough to see the shoddy assembly fail. So the market will never work to correct the problem.

Solution is for those who use the heck out of an appliance, to buy a professional model which (I hope) would be up to the job.

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Amen on the deep fryers. I have two dead fryers in the garage and a newish not dead one in the kitchen.

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I went out and bought a brand new cusinart coffee maker. Spent a small fortune for their top of line maker. Four months later I have to send it back because it broke after one cleaning and refuses to brew a full pot of coffee, leaves water in the reservoir. I even followed the directions to a T.

Yeah, quality has gone way down these days. Just like customer service.


"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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With crap, you have to remember there are two guilty parties:

Obviously, the first is the seller

The second is the buyer.

If the buyer doesn't buy, the seller can't sell....

I remember a "discussion" I had with a "member" of a big-box home center concerning the quality of imported plywood. I deduced it was "Crap", and the "member" agreed with me untill I told him the someone representing his company had spec'ed, ordered, accepted, and paid for the crap from the factory. Didn't go over too well....

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As an unwilling buyer of crap, I partially disagree. You can look at plywood and see the flaws. You can only rap on the cowling of a KA mixer, not take it apart for an exam. You can even check CR for ratings, but IIRC there's no mention of plastic gears etc in that review. Maybe a diligent web search will give info, but maybe not. And even then, after you figure out that KA mixers ain't what they used to be, what is the high quality alternative?

The problem as I see it is that the manufacturer wants to sell a lot of product. To do that they must be in the big stores. To be in the big stores they must meet the store's price points...which are probably too low to make a good product and still make a profit.

One solution is to accept that appliances are disposable items, which offends me, but that's what the data says. Vacuum sealers, for example. After tossing two failed high-end sealers, I'm just buying cheap ones now. Probably time for me to get a spare back-up unit, my current one is getting old enough to give out soon.

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I agree with gfweb. Should add that you can ask on eGullet and there you WILL find out what is shoddy and what is not. Let's hear it for the eG members!


Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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One of the advantages of being old is I have old stuff. And what I didn't get from my mom, I get from auctions, estate sales, and former boyfriends. The latter category includes a gelato machine and Hobart Kitchenaid -- both from the 70s and both have proven to be far more reliable than the original owners :smile: .

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I have no former boyfriends or husbands...never knew how handy they might be... :smile: ...but we get a fair number of kitchen items at second-hand stores. Things with...wait for it...METAL gears and metal parts and metal casings. We all remember metal...

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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And while we are on the subject of shoddy goods, we will speak of my Kitchen Aid food processor. I am not crazy about it...it has little power in my estimation compared to my long-lasting Cuisinart which finally died last year. And here I am using the Kitchen Aid today when two little plastic bits...little tiny no account plastic bits...just break off from the handle. They didn't break...they just broke off. Well, they are the parts which make the contact which sets the machine in motion. Quickly I figured out how and where they fit and used a finger in the opening to make the contact.

Probably, He-who-can-fix-anything will be able to put it back together or rig up something else for me. Silly machine. :raz:


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Super glue is your friend, Darienne.

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And Gorilla tape.

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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