Today, what we previously knew as the Crock-Pot, an electric slow cooker is more popular than ever. Just about every major appliance company makes their own version of a slow-cooker, and Crock-Pot, which was the first brand of slow-cooker, is no longer the only game in town.
The original Crock-Pot was sold by the Rival Company, but Rival did not invent the appliance. Instead, it was invented by Irving Naxon, in 1938, while he was trying to make his grandmother’s “Cholent Stew.” Cholent was the name given to a meal eaten on Saturday, the Sabbath, by Eastern European Jews known as the Ashkenazim. Naxon’s unit consisted of a ceramic pot that was heated by electric coils.
Naxon was the head of Naxon Utilities Corp., which originally marketed the slow cooker as Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker. This small company was bought in 1970 by Hack Miller’s Rival Manufacturing Co., and then reintroduced the Naxon Beanery as the Crock-Pot. It has been popular ever since. People loved it for creating easy one-pot meals, and it was a great way to slow cook cheaper cuts of meat, making them tender with very low cooking temperatures over long periods of time.
Crock-Pot is now its own brand and is manufactured by Sunbeam Products, Inc., which also manufactures other Rival brand products.
Many New Slow Cookers, Many New Features
Much has changed since the original Crock-Pot was introduced. Today’s units boast features that make them much more versatile and user-friendly. Slow cookers are much easier to clean, for instance. Older Crock-Pots were one solid pot of ceramic, and could not be submerged in water, lest the electronic be damaged. Today, many units have removable but durable inner pot, some of which are dishwasher-safe. Cleanup is much easier than the old days! You can even purchase helpful products like Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. These are basically large plastic bags that can be fit inside slow cookers small and large, and then be thrown away when the cooking is done. Now, not only can you assemble your dish in the morning and have it ready to go in the evening, but have no pot to clean at all.
Crock-pot basic units are still bestsellers and have much more ease of use than the units of yesterday. For example, the Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker has a locking lid with a gasket, with insulated handles, so you can easily transport your slow-cooker dish without fear of spilling. The inner stone-ware pot is removable and dishwasher safe, and can even be placed in the oven. Of course, as with most modern slow cookers, the controls are digital and programmable, automatically switching from high, to warm, according to the time programmed. All at a price that as low as any basic kitchen appliance.
For example, many slow cooker roast recipes call for browning the roast on the stove first, before placing it in the cooker. This defeats the purpose of a one-pot meal. Today, there are units that can brown for you. Not only that, but some multifunction cookers have “slow cooking” as just one setting among any, and you can sauté, steam, or even boil a soup or stew, just as you would on a stove-top.
The Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker: Slow Cooker, Brown/Saute, Steamer, performs all the functions in its name. In addition, you can switch between different cooking modes to combine different types of cooking. This means you can brown the ingredients in the unit and then switch to slow cooking. Or, you can use simply use it as a steamer, browner, or to sauté. This unit also comes with a dishwasher-safe removable pot, which is in this case non-stick aluminum; and a steaming rack. It is available in both 4-Quart and 6-Quart sizes.
If you thought that your grandmother’s Crock-Pot was still the same old slow cooker, now you can see why “slow cookers” are more popular than ever before, and why there are so many slow cooker recipe books on the market. They are still a convenient way to prepare a meal, without having too cook after a hard day’s work. They still can be simple and easy to use. But today, they are available in many different price ranges, with with many new features, making them more versatile than ever before.
If you love a home-cooked meal but don’t exactly enjoy a complicated cooking process, it is possible to use a slow cooker for almost every meal you eat. A few slow cooker recipe books like the bestselling Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes and you’ll never run out of dishes to try.
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