Vitamix: The Curious Allure of the $400 Blender

Vitamix: The Curious Allure of the $400 Blender
Eric Schaefer

Welcome to "Schaefer," in which Eric Schaefer -- a local guy with a big (but discerning) appetite and a sense of humor to match -- takes on the Phoenix food scene.

The Vitamix is a $400 blender.

Read those words again: The Vitamix is a $400 blender.

It sounds insane to me and, thus far, I've been able to resist the nearly constant peer pressure to buy one. But, if you believe the hype, a $400 blender will change your life. You can make soup! It'll pulverize anything! And you can make smoothies! It's made in America...Cleveland! Truthfully, I'm not even a huge fan of smoothies, but I do like soup.

See also: Schaefer Demands Equal Dining Rights for Cats

But, still, it's a $400 blender.

I am pretty sure that we got a blender as wedding gift ten years ago, but I think it broke several years back...and it didn't break from making smoothies or soup. And we have a Cuisinart which, last time I checked, had enough horsepower to destroy anything in the path of its scalpel-sharp blades.

But I still find myself needing a $400 blender.

One trip to Costco, my favorite place to shop, and you can't miss the Vitamix Roadshow. Perched on a podium with a headset and a PA system you'll find a Vitamix representative espousing the many virtues of the Vitamix blender. "It'll change your life. Think of all the smoothies you can make. And it heats up soup!"

Isn't my stove good for heating soup?

For nearly every major life event in the last couple of years my wife has asked for a Vitamix. Does she really want a kitchen appliance for her birthday? An anniversary? "Happy Valentines Day, my dear, I got you a blender!"

Somehow I think it would backfire on me.

But I've lost count of the number of friends who actually take the time to photograph themselves with their new Vitamix and post it to Facebook or Twitter. Their excitement borders on orgasmic. This thing must be good. And I've been made to feel like a bad person for not buying one. I mean, it's not as bad as the $19 million toilet developed by NASA.

I'm well aware that the Vitamix is found in many restaurant kitchens, and commercial derivatives are used at Starbucks and Jamba Juice. Admittedly, it does have professional culinary credibility. The website even says, "Designed to Inspire Your Inner Chef." Truthfully, my inner chef has done quite fine without one. I'm a better-than-average home cook and have yet to come across a recipe that couldn't be accomplished with the hardware that's already in my house.

Still, I think I might need a $400 blender.

In his series "Good Eats" Alton Brown frequently laments kitchen gadgets that are "one hit wonders," which only accomplish one task and end up taking up too much drawer or counter space. Even a microplaner does more than just makes a great pedicure tool, too.

My kitchen counter and cabinet space is at a premium and I can't imagine buying a $400 blender, throwing my hands into the air and crying out "where have you been all my life?" Will my diet suddenly change? Will it rock my world the way my George Foreman Grill did when I lived in a college dorm room? Am I going to live longer?

Or is the Vitamix another example of consumerism and excess, the notion that bigger and more powerful is inherently better and somehow better for you?

Meantime, I'm headed to Costco this weekend and it's going to take a lot of willpower to resist. After all, it's a $400 blender and I think I need one.

I'm curious: do you have a Vitamix? Has your life changed?

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