A column by Heather Ziegler, associate city editor of The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — There is an important piece of equipment in our lunchroom at the newspaper office that is older than half the staff that uses it. It’s an original Crock-Pot made by the Rival company in the great state of Missouri. We have been employing this slow cooker all winter long.
The bright red slow cooker is considered an antique as it has been around since 1974. It was a wedding gift that I brought into the office about 10 years ago for some event and, well, it has remained here ever since. While it not fancy or digitally controlled, it has been serving us well.
Most would find this crock pot to be outdated, obsolete. Granted it doesn’t offer the convenience of multiple settings or automatic controls, yet it has allowed us to fill its belly and ours with hot soup, chili and even a stew of sorts.
That simple piece of kitchen wizardry is more than just a cooking pot.
It holds a bit of magic that melts away the daily grind as we detect the smell of a comforting soup waiting for us at the noon hour.
We huddle around bowls of hot soup and crackers, together at one table, locked in fellowship made possible via that crock pot. We take turns cooking up the soups and stews that promise not only nourishment, but the warmth of good friends and colleagues.
Cindy, our daytime obituary writer, devised the soup day plan after leading us in many successful Taco Tuesdays in the lunchroom. Soup, she said, is a good fit for the cold weather months. It’s economical and practical. Her chicken noodle soup kicked off the soup fest months ago, and since then we have enjoyed the culinary delights of barley, vegetable, white chili, and potato and leek soup to mention a few.
The original Rival Crock-Pot can still be purchased for less than $20, a bargain by today’s standards. I’m sure most wedding-gifted crock pots today are of the more high-tech version with various temperatures, timers, warming settings and so on.
In fact, my at-home Rival model has that wonderful setting that goes to a warming mode when the food has finished its appointed cooking time. There is nothing better than sauerkraut and pork roast in a slow cooker at the end of a busy day.
The original Rival Crock-Pot is a testament to a generation that has taken pride in manufacturing products of quality. However, I’m not sure they are still made in this country.
How many other things are still around today that were made in the 1970s? Our landfills are overflowing with the cheaper items of today that only last a few years.
I’ll bet you have bought dozens of toasters, hand mixers and flashlights over the years that hail from China or other places outside the United States. You have to keep buying them because they “don’t make them like they used.”
At least we can still take comfort at the bottom of a 42-year-old Rival Crock-Pot.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at [email protected].