Okay, so I’m obsessed with this guy Cesar. It’s like he’s given me the red pill and now I realize I’ve been living in the Matrix. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but if you think your appliances are doing something smart only to learn that they’re really dumb, it kind of shakes your world.[singlepic id=209 w=320 h=240 float=right]

The classic example is the blender. Someone figured out a long time ago that people would buy more blenders if they thought the blenders were smarter. So instead of power level 1-10 to indicate the actual function–changing the power (and hence the blade speed) from 10% to 100%–someone decided to name the settings:


Now of course these words are all synonyms more or less for the same basic thing and it’s actually far less accurate than power level 1-10, but lo and behold, as soon as they changed the name of the setting, they started selling more blenders. It all boils down to this: People just liked to think that their blenders “knew” what they were blending. And so an industry was born.

Here’s some appliance settings that I thought did something intelligent and here’s what Cesar says they really do:

Function What I thought it did What it really does
Sanitize/sterilize Filters out bacteria Uses hotter water
Defrost (microwave) Targets water molecules Lowers power level
Defrost (toaster) Heats from the inside out Lowers power, extends time
Recirculate air Purifies air and pumps it back out Closes outside vent
Large load Recalibrates weight sensors for even spin Lowers spin speed
Pots and pans Special jets target the bottom of the pot Wash cycle runs longer
Convection cook Turns on a cyclone Turns on a little fan
Reheat (toaster) Cooks from the inside out Turns power very low
Delicate Gently tumbles clothes Lowers temperature
Crystal/china Buffs and shines glasses and plates Lowers temperature

There are lots of other examples but I can’t write about them right now. I have to go frappe a smoothie with Cesar.