The DraftPak keg cooler

We talk a lot about the high-tech kitchen here at the Spoon, but we’re also fascinated by low-tech kitchen sensations, and no low-tech kitchen gadget has been more successful than the George Foreman Grill.

A few weeks ago we interviewed the inventor of the George Foreman Grill, Michael Boehm, who told us the story behind the infomercial sensation. But that was back in the ’90s. These days blossoming startups don’t take to TV but rather connect on crowdfunding sites to make their fortune.

Here are seven low-tech projects that might just be the next George Foreman Grill:

Empanada Maker

Simplify the process of making empanadas by using this tortillas-press-like device that would make Boehm proud. No muss, no fuss, no electricity. It’s even got a snappy name: the margariteña. The company wants to make the device lighter, which is why they’re raising funds.

Portable Keg

Unless you’re in college, it’s absolutely unacceptable to keep your keg cold by floating it in a trash can full of ice. DraftPak has a cooler solution: Put the DraftPak (which looks suspiciously like a cooler/trash can) on top of the keg and add ice! On the positive side, it uses CO2, so you don’t need to pump the keg.

Hipster Ice Cubes

You know how when you go to a fancy cocktail bar these days, it takes the mixologist about 30 minutes to make your drink? Well, part of that is the bespoke ice cubes. Skip the line and make your own ice and cocktails at home with the Ice Ball Press, which makes a 2.5-inch sphere. (Note: It would also make a killer snow ball to throw at that neighbor you hate.)

Edible Non-Drip Ice Cream Cones

No more melted ice cream dripping down your arm! More importantly, no more melted ice cream dripping down your kids’ arms! Halo Cone stops that in its tracks, with a weird plastic device that catches the liquid. We’re not exactly sure how it’s edible, but we believe in the future.

Water Purifier

This one is essentially a plastic bag that harnesses UV light to kill bacteria in water, making it safe to drink. The company is aiming to help during and after natural disasters like the hurricane in Haiti, and they’re raising funds to scale production of the bags.

Manual Espresso Makers

There are actually two crowdfunding projects right now that do the same thing: help you make espresso the “old-fashioned” way. With both the PREXO and the Flair makers, you tamp the coffee grounds yourself; in the PREXO a piston extracts the espresso, and in the Flair you push down on a lever with your hand. It seems like a fair amount of work, but both are small devices that can easily be stored, not like the massive La Marzocco machine.

So what’s the takeaway here? There’s much innovation in the kitchen that doesn’t necessarily have to do with technology. In particular with the espresso makers, it’s clear that people are interested in returning to making food “by hand.” Does that mean it will taste better? Not necessarily. It’s about both accessibility and the desire to be involved in the food-making process. Even if that means ridiculous sphere-shaped ice for your craft cocktail.

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