If you aren’t already a Pothead, chances are you know someone who is. Only the addictive “pot” is not marijuana, but instead the highly celebrated kitchen multicooker with cult-like status: the Instant Pot. In my own household, this unassuming appliance that is capable of pressure cooking, sautéing, slow cooking, and making everything from pot roast to cheesecake arrived nearly a year ago. Since then, my husband has even taken to it — routinely making batches of rice, or raw beans bought in bulk at Whole Foods, for adding later to any number of dishes or salads. For us, a family with two small children, the Instant Pot has become a convenient addition to our kitchen, allowing us to make food and leave it without worrying it will burn.
But others, like those who have sung the pot’s praises on the Instant Pot Facebook Page (which now has over 1,000,000 members), swear by the $100 item, which is a top-seller on Amazon. Members routinely share recipes and tricks for making various dishes, and few dare to even cook with anything but their beloved counter-top appliance.
According to the New York Times, Instant Pot creator Robert Wang didn’t set out to make such a splash. An engineer who had been laid off during the 2008 financial crisis, he decided to disrupt the kitchen market by attempting to develop “a high-tech device that would combine pressure-cooking, slow-cooking, sautéing and other common cooking functions in a single appliance.” He used $350,000 of his savings and combined his efforts with two other engineers. The result was the Instant Pot, which ultimately took Amazon by storm when it joined the “Fulfillment by Amazon” program. “Amazon handles the packing and shipping of a seller’s products in exchange for a cut of each item sold.” Now the online retailer promotes the product, whose parent company sends wholesale shipments from its factories in China.
Mr. Wang believes the Instant Pot’s success lies in the multiple sensors within in it that prevent overheating or exploding. He intends to add similar sensors to other kitchen products, but is tight-lipped about what they might be.
In the meantime, 11.5 percent of all American households are putting their favorite appliance to good use, oftentimes consulting one of the 150,000 cookbooks that have been written specifically with it in mind.
Has an Instant Pot changed your life for the better? Let us know in the comments!