Friday, October 29, 2010

Have You Seen This Teapot?

The US has a lot going for it over Australia:  cheaper everything, better BBQ, unlimited internet access, a  fuck-you attitude, and – of course – Cheez-Its.  Oh how I miss Cheez-Its.  But Australia has its fair share of perks too:  sunny weather everywhere, universal health care, topless surfers, gay rights, and Tim-Tams.  But there’s one major thing that Australia has that the US doesn’t, and it fascinates me.  That thing:

The electric kettle.

It’s like a teapot, but instead of filling it with water and putting on the stovetop, you fill it with water and set it on a little base which plugs into the wall.  Then, you hit the button and the water heats up fast.  Super fast.  Like, faster than a speeding bullet or faster than Superman or something like that.  Seriously, it’s like 2 minutes and you have tea.  The teapot on the stovetop takes ages!  A watched pot never boils… unless it’s electric.

EVERY house in Australia has one.  At least, every house I’ve been in.  There are whole walls in electronic stores devoted to electric kettles.  They come in all brands, sizes, prices, and colors.  So my question is:  why don’t we have this in the US?  I’ve probably spent more hours inside Bed Bath & Beyond on a weekly basis than any reasonable, sane person would over the course of an entire lifetime, and I’ve never noticed an electric kettle despite the fact that I’ve stood in the small appliances section for hours on end drooling at whatever state-of-the-art kitchen gadgets were on display.  Just to be sure I wasn’t losing my mind, I asked several of my other American friends here, and none of them had seen one of these new-fangled contraptions until arriving in Australia either.

I pulled up, and, and, and, and did a search for electric kettle.  And you know what:  Bed Bath & Beyond sells electric kettles.  As does Best Buy.  And Sears.  And Target.  How do I not know about this???  At first I thought maybe they only sell these in cold states – because who needs hot tea in Miami – but my friend Karen from Pennsylvania had never heard of it either.  And Pennsylvania is a cold state!  Besides, they wouldn’t have them in Australia at all if that was the case.  So it appears they have them in the US – fine.  But they obviously aren’t selling like hotcakes.  Trust me, had I heard of it, I would’ve had one even if I never intended to use it.

So, I did a Google search.  Apparently, I’m not the only one wondering why the electric kettle never hit the heartstrings of the American consumer.  I found several message boards where this same question had been posted time and time again.  So I have to ask:  do any Americans reading this own an electric kettle?  Have you ever even noticed the existence of the electric kettle?

It just seems strange to me that a country as innovative as the United States has fallen behind other parts of the world on the simple act of heating water.  How is this possible?

There are an infinite number of possible explanations as to why electric kettles are near non-existent in the US, but I’ve narrowed it down to the two most likely explanations:

1.  Boston Tea Party (take this tea and shove it!)
2.  Congressional lobbying by the powerful teapot industry


  1. I had to laugh when I read this - I don't think Aussies feel as though their home is complete without an electric kettle. It is the first thing you buy when you move into a new house, and is probably gifted more than toasters as far as house warming and wedding presents go. So it was definitely a surprise to read that they aren't common in the states - I just assumed everyone had one (well...most people with electricity)!

  2. I loved my electric tea kettle when I lived in Australia. I LOVED it. I found something similar when I went to college in the states but used it to make ramen noodles as a post-bar-snack, not tea. thank goodness for the superman fastness of it. A girl needs her noodles! ~C

  3. Phill, we first became aware of them when we were in England in '95. I always wondered how long it would take them to come to the U.S. They actually do sell them here, but they are much more expensive than other countries and there isn't the selection. Once you get a good brand, though, they last forever!

  4. Mine just died, wish I'd taken my solid Dutch one - that's right, sure we shuffle around the stove on our wooden shoes, but for tea we rely on our electric kettle!

  5. Phil, we have them in Canada too! I also think it's awesome! I didn't realize they don't exist in the states. I always thought because we lived in Florida it wasn't popular. It certainly makes boiling water a lot easier. I think that if I move back to the states, I'll definitely be bringing one or two back with me. heh.
    Btw, Thanks for entertaining me with your blog at work today, lol. Sounds like Australia is treating you well :)