13 Home Appliances with Major Cult Followings
"I feel like one of the Apostles passing the word of God."
Think of all the things that have cult followings. Generally, such devotion is reserved for films (Star Wars, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), bands (The Grateful Dead, Insane Clown Posse) and politicians (we’ll let you draw your own examples). But appliances? No way! Following Phish around the country is one thing. Treating an infomercial blender like it’s the greatest thing ever is something else entirely.
But over the years, certain household appliances—from niche kitchen essentials to truly next-level cleaning gadgets—have built up deity-like status among their fans. Here they are.
The KitchenAid mixer
The KitchenAid mixer has been a hit since the minute it hit shelves in 1919. Long before it became a staple of basically every wedding registry, these popular mixers were sold door-to-door by salespeople; the product’s popularity grew by word of mouth. Exactly a hundred years after its creation, the KitchenAid mixer has now achieved bona fide cult status, and is sold in nearly every big box store in America.
In fact, the KitchenAid mixer is so popular that, appended to the company’s factory in Greenville, Ohio, there’s an entire museum dedicated to the timeless appliances, where visitors can check out vintage ads for the company, as well as some of its most popular models over the years, like the K5A, which was once famously owned by Julia Child.
The Toto Washlet
For some, a toilet is just a toilet. For fans and owners of Toto toilets, only a Toto is a toilet. Everything else is, as one owner told the New York Times, like “going back to the Stone Age.” And if you use one of these well-equipped, high-tech Japanese gizmos just once, it’s not hard to see why fans feel this way.
The Toto toilet (called a “washlet”) features heated seats, a bidet, an air dryer, a seat that shuts automatically, and an air-purifying system. High-end models even have UV technology that eliminates germs from the commode. In Japan, they’re practically everywhere. But stateside, they’ve yet to catch on. (That they’re only sold in high-end showrooms might kneecap its potential popularity.) As a result, the proud Toto owner told the Times that, whenever he sings the praises of the washlet, “I feel like one of the Apostles passing the word of God.”
This updated slow cooker is, without a doubt, the most popular home appliance ever created—and with the countless Facebook groups, viral posts, and memes about the Crock-Pot, it seems as though that popularity isn’t fading anytime soon. When it was first created in the ’70s, the Crock-Pot was revolutionary in the fact that it finally allowed working women to pursue careers and feed their children home-cooked meals without breaking a sweat.
Decades later, equipped with modern technology, the Crock-Pot is still America’s favorite kitchen appliance, and has more than two million followers on Facebook. (The fact that HRH Martha Stewart has devoted an entire book to the art of slow cooking helps, too.)
The Nutribullet isn’t a blender. It’s not a juicer or a food processor, either. It’s a “superfood nutrition extractor”—and don’t you dare call it anything else, lest you want the hoards of the fringe internet coming your way.
Popularized almost immediately by an infomercial that was far more captivating than it had any right to be, the Nutribullet quickly took the web by storm. Today, you’ll find popular forums, endless social media screeds, and an impressively robust YouTube community dedicated to the not-blender. Reportedly, even Kate Middleton is a fan!
The Dyson vacuum cleaner
Few people would ever imagine a vacuum could be a luxury good—until James Dyson came along, that is. Established in the United Kingdom in 1991, the Dyson company has singlehandedly created the most beloved vacuum cleaner in human history, all by designing one that actually works after more than, oh, four cleaning sessions. Dyson—the inventor of the product and the founder of the company that spawned as a result—wanted to create a system that didn’t clog. So he did.
The company released its first vacuum cleaner, the DC01, in 1993, and it became the highest-selling vacuum cleaner in the United Kingdom in just 18 months. By then, it entered the same class of aspirational goods as Sferra pillows, Loro Piana scarves, and Tom Ford everything. As Nick Platt, a vacuum expert at retail audit group GfK, told the BBC, Dyson changed the cleaning goods game by transforming its product “into an aesthetic lifestyle product, a status symbol.” Let’s see Swiffer do that.
The SMEG refrigerator
No fridge has ever achieved the haute status of the SMEG. In all their retro-inspired glory—with curvy designs and vivid pastels—SMEGs have popped up across the spectrum of high-fashion media, from editorials in Vogue to spreads in House Beautiful and Architectural Digest to posts on niche design blogs. And just this year, they released a truly inspired collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana. This surely won’t surprise you, but the collection ain’t cheap: even the toaster has an MSRP of nearly a grand.
Keurig, step aside. Your match is here: the Nespresso. Unlike the Keurig, this leveled-up caffeine machine is capable of instantly delivering lattes, cappuccinos, and, like its name implies, espressos. And yes, every brew tastes like you picked it up in a café. It’s like having a personal barista on your kitchen counter.
As a result, Nespresso has achieved a sort of highfalutin cult reverence generally not granted to coffeemakers. Though it’s far more of a global phenom than an American one (pop into any modern U.S. office, for instance, and you’re more likely to see a Keurig than a real coffee pot), the stateside Nespresso boutiques tend to be in upmarket neighborhoods: Boston’s posh Back Bay, for instance, or Chicago’s glitzy River North. You’ll also spot them in fine dining establishments around the globe; according to one Grub Street report, hundreds of Michelin-starred restaurants are now part of the so-called “Nespresso club.”
Though other robotic floor cleaners were around before iRobot’s Roomba, the Roomba’s affordability—starting around $125 per device—has made it a worldwide hit. And aside from mystifying and intriguing cats all around the globe, the Roomba has managed to maintain a near monopoly in the world of robotic vacuum cleaners, with even larger industry leaders like Dyson and Samsung unable to replicate its success.
Part of the obsession with the item might come from the fact that—hear us out—they’re kind of lovable. Because of the Roomba’s somewhat anthropomorphic qualities (including its particularly adorable habit of crashing into walls, like a high-energy toddler), users tend don’t call their Roombas “it.” They address them as “he” or “she.”
The air fryer
If you’re unfamiliar with this relatively new kitchen appliance, the Air Fryer cooks food to a delicious crisp in a far more efficient, healthy manner than a traditional deep fryer. Um, how? Well, the Air Fryer uses a circulating mechanical fan that moves hot around the food at a breakneck speed, sparking something called the Maillard Effect, a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar. But users don’t have to understand that. All they have to do is set the timer, and their food comes out with a perfect crisp.
Best of all: there are no culinary limitations! Wings? Definitely. Pickles? Sure. Snickers bars? Hey, we won’t judge. Donuts? Dude…go for it! Since the thing’s creation less than a decade ago, air fryers have turned the home appliances market upside down, even inspiring publications like The New Yorker to muse about its popularity eventually dethroning that of the Crock-Pot (gasp!).
The Speed Queen washing machine
There are washing machines. And then there’s the Speed Queen washing machine. With few parts and a foolproof, ridiculously intuitive user interface, it’s quickly become a household favorite—yet there’s a good bet you’ve never heard of it.
The company doesn’t run ads. It doesn’t sell in big box retailers, like Best Buy or Home Depot. Speed Queen is only marketed by (glowing) word of mouth. Still, that hasn’t hindered it one bit. In addition to solid sales and a top-tier rating in a public Consumer Reports survey, the Speed Queen has transcended laundry and become a benchmark for other appliances. As one poster on the “D.C. Moms and Dads Forum” posited, “What’s the ‘Speed Queen’ of dishwashers and refrigerators?”
The Uuni portable pizza oven
Calling all pizza fans (so, everyone): if you’re not part of the Uuni cult, you’re about to be. Established in 2012, the Uuni is a portable pizza oven that allows consumers to enjoy a wood-fired pizza from anywhere in just ten minutes (!) flat. Since it was first introduced via Kickstarter campaign—and boosted by a spot on Ellen—the brand has picked up a sizable following. Today, it has about 54,000 followers on Facebook. But true devotees hang out on the separate, dedicated community Facebook page, which is home to more than 14,000 followers.
The Anova sous vide precision cooker
Among culinary whizzes, in-home sous vide machines have quietly turned into must-buy items—and no individual item is leading the charge more than Anova’s cutting-edge precision cooker. Instead of all the bulky machinery that most sous vide machines call for, this model only requires three additional things on your part: a plastic bag, boiling water, and a touch of patience. It also easily syncs up, via Bluetooth, with a handy mobile app that offers Balthazar-grade recipes and to-the-minute timers.
As such, even the folks at the prestigious Michelin Guide sing its praises; they recommend that all budding chefs stock their kitchens with one of these gizmos. And in less highfalutin circles, the Washington Post recently ran a trend piece suggesting that the proliferation of the precision sous vide is equal to that of—get this—the microwave. (Suuure.)
As fans will tell you (loudly and earnestly), the Vitamix doesn’t just blend food—it pulverizes it. Kale smoothies, jalapeño margaritas, berry sorbet; if you need a bunch of different ingredients turned into one liquified ingredient, the Vitamix will get it done.
What makes it so superior? Simple: the blades move at the speed of a Ferrari (about 240mph). They’re so fast that, if you leave it blending for too long, the resulting mixture will start to smoke from heat. As one mega-fan, quoted by Slate, said, “I love it so much, I would recommend it to the dead.” (Okay, then.) And it’s not just her! There’s even an entire Twitter trend where people tweet about hugging their Vitamixes. And for a look at how quickly our household goods can change, check out these 20 Home Appliances That Didn’t Exist When You Were Young.
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