My wife brought not only her wonderful self to our marriage, but also a classic Kitchenaid mixer. They both become even more wonderful as the years pass. But let’s talk about the mixer here. This is a photograph of it. It was originally light green, but at one time she was so in love with her Honda CRX, that I painted the mixer to match, even though it did not go around corners as fast. It is a product that is often called iconic, and after its birth in 1919, it arrived in pretty much its present form in the mid 1950’s. Its Wikipedia based history is here. It will undoubtedly outlive both my wife and me.
We both cook, and from time to time I try to perfect bread, so we do quite a bit of heavy-duty mixing. The mixer never even breathes hard. The top locks down, and the speed is variable. No other controls—none needed. The mixing tools skim the bowl inner surface, and everything is easy to clean. It is heavy enough that it does not move around the counter, the bowl secures to the base with a simple part-turn, its form screams MIXER, and no instruction book is needed to operate it. Also it has never broken in its 50 years of life.
It is easy to use, reliable and serviceable, beautifully made, elegant, makes one feel like a big-time chef, and does not involve disposable items. I love it. It gets high grades on all of the items in my Good Products, Bad Products book. The present version is definitely relatively expensive compared to the lower mixer prices at Walmart or even Target, but to me well worth the money, since obviously this older model does its duty magnificently and will continue through at least one human lifetime. Since we haven’t owned a new one for 50 years, I can’t vouch for their quality, but I am hoping Kitchenaid hasn’t succumbed to lowering the quality to reduce their costs.
Of course, by producing a mixer like this, Kitchenaid gives up the opportunity to produce a cheaper new model with “advanced” features and a shorter lifetime every few years, thereby opening up marketing opportunities and a chance to hook customers into buying new ones more often. Undoubtedly it would be easy to include a bit of digital memory that held all known recipes—and for all I know someone is doing that. But come on……….
I always think hard when I like something that I have grown up with or had a long time, to try make sure that I am not giving up a better option by giving too much credit to sentiment and what I am used to. But I usually conclude that if products stay around in near to their original form for long enough to be called “classic”, or “iconic”, there is something going on there. If you are a consumer, it is worth figuring out what it is, and demanding it from industrially produced products, If you are a producer, focus on making such products. They are better for your brand than all the advertising you can buy.