Multi-task still means multi-headache


About twenty years ago, Tigg bought a new beverage container from… well… should I tell you it’s from Pampered Chef, or just keep that quiet?

Anyway… new beverage container.

She had gone to a friend’s house, saw it on the cover of a catalog on the counter, and knew right away it was perfect for us. She bought one, we’d have it in a couple of days, and it was going to be the solution of all our lemonade needs.

She wasn’t happy when I made a face.

You know the face. The skeptical husband face that told her I wasn’t nearly as excited or as impressed as she expected me to be.

The actual situations at the time was that we had a couple of one-gallon containers already. Used them all the time. And, I do mean all the time. At least one of them was always in our fridge.

The issue that had Terry looking for something new was easy enough. One of them had cracked. We had two, one was broken, so replace the broken one simple.

The face? Ok…

The first one to break did so after about ten years of fairly constant use. Such use included being brought to several pre-concert tailgate parties. For them to have lasted a decade bordered on miraculous. But those fantastic containers that we used were from Tupperware… so the face was expressing how going to a different company for a style that looked quite different was obviously the thing to do.

(And that, right there… face or no face… that’s uncalled for sarcasm. Because in reality Tigg was looking out for me. She knows I like lemonade, knew we needed a new container, went looking for one, and bought one. If I was so set on getting a replacement, then I should have moved my behind a bit faster and bought one myself. Besides, a requirement for a new container wasn’t that it must be from Tupperware. Some of the stuff from Pampered Chef is outstanding and we have a few of the company’s items that I can’t imagine being without. (But where would that be funny? Instead, I make the skeptical husband face and offer up a bitter attempt at a joke. Ha ha. Anyway…))

This isn’t about Tupperware or Pampered Chef. Also, not about a replacement for something broken in the kitchen. It’s about multi-tasking.


Turned out this container tried to do too much, and couldn’t even do any one thing well.

One of the things Tigg initially liked about it was that this particular model was a very exaggerated oval in design. It was tall… long… and thin. So, it could be slid into small openings in the refrigerator… into places where a gallon of milk, a bottle of soda or a container of orange juice simply wouldn’t sit right. She had our fridge in mind, and knew we often stored things in combinations were thin might be handy.

She also liked that it came with a handle in the top that attached to a stirrer thingy. All-in-one design. No more wooden spoon that ends up getting placed on the counter and getting everything sticky while you close the container and move it to the fridge.

On the catalog pages, it appeared to have a lot going for it. And I had to admit… looking at it for a few minutes after my initial reaction, it did appear that she had several good points.

All of that changed once it was filled.

Since the handle for lifting it was located at the very end of the container, the design created an unbalanced situation where it was impossible to use the handle with one hand when it was full. Too heavy for the awkward grip. Hurt your wrist to try and move it with one hand. Actually… it almost broke your wrist while offering a searing pain and you had to react quickly so you wouldn’t drop it. It was always a two-hand job to move it, which in turn meant placing it on the shelf in the fridge an awkward process.

But that wasn’t all as far as placing it…

It was thin, which should have helped it fit into weird spaces. Unfortunately, it was also tall. Really tall. There was only one spot it could be placed. All other options, from other shelves to the door, were out. Adjust the shelves on the door for it? Could do… but the tall and thin design made it top heavy with no true placement balance, so chances were good that if you did place it on the door it was going to topple over each and every time you opened the fridge. Plus, to help with the volume for content, the thin was offset by long. That meant while it did fit into spaces in one direction thanks to width, it also had problems being placed in spaces due to length.

And the stirrer thingy? It didn’t reach the bottom of the container when the lid was in place, so it didn’t really stir much of anything. Left all the lemonade mix on the bottom. You needed to shake it, which meant the stirrer was pointless. Also, the stirrer thingy was built in. Couldn’t remove it unless you used the container without the cover. Tip the container to pour and the handle for the stirrer would come flying up out of the top, then the stirrer thingy would then hit the lid, and the top came flying off spilling lemonade all over the place.

Nice in theory. Poor in reality.

We haven’t used that container since we finished the second batch of lemonade it held.

Multi-tasking can be useful… when it actually multi-tasks.

Overall I’m intrigued by multi-task items. Alton Brown will tell you the only single-task tool he wants in his kitchen is a fire extinguisher. Interesting theory to utilize when considering equipment purchases.

But I often find that when people set out to make something useful with all sorts of bells and whistles, being designed to perform multiple tasks it more often than not means multiple headaches.

New and improved is an interesting marketing slogan… new and fixed is not quite as catchy (nor is it usually true).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This essay is a revision of an essay previously posted here on the web site.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at