December 27th, 2012

The quest for an egg beater

The day before Christmas I was visiting a relative in Washington DC and set out to make lebkuchen. The recipe calls for mixing with a rotary egg beater, and this relative didn’t have one. So I set out to find that once-ubiquitous, cheap, handy, and easily-obtainable classic. You know, one of these guys:

Did I say “easily-obtainable”? Think again. My first stop was Target, which had a lot of utensils but nary a rotary egg beater to be found. I thought that was a fluke, until I went to a Safeway (also nada, despite carrying about three types of whisk, which is supposed to be a similar tool but IMHO does not do the same thing). And then Whole Foods, same deal, despite the fact that you’d think they’d be promoting such a green instrument.

Furthermore, at Whole Foods the guy I asked about a rotary egg beater didn’t even seem to know what that was.

By then everything was about to close for Christmas Eve and stay closed on Christmas Day, so I had to do without. Which wasn’t that bad; there are other ways to mix the recipe.

But the experience gave me a jolt. What gives? When I wasn’t looking, did the rotary egg beater become an obsolete relic of the past?

Yes, I know there are places where they’re still sold; Bed Bath and Beyond would be one (I suppose an egg beater qualifies as “beyond”), but their version is a tiny bit pricey and upscale and significantly strange. And there are many obtainable by ordering through Amazon. But the egg beater used to be instantly accessible everywhere, including supermarkets, and not that long ago, either.

So, has the wire whisk, an implement I’ve never liked, won this war? Even though they say whisks are better for whipping egg whites, I beg to differ. And of course there’s the other culprit, electric mixers, but what a pain in the butt to haul one out for every little task. And then to clean it.

Apparently this lack of rotary egg beaters is not a new problem, either; here’s an online discussion about it that goes back to 2006.

So my advice is that if you think you might need a rotary egg beater in a hurry (and who doesn’t?), plan ahead. Or surrender to the all-conquering duo of the whisk and the electric mixer.

[NOTE: Here’s some proud history.]

20 Responses to “The quest for an egg beater”

  1. Gringo Says:

    Neo, when I made your lebkuchen recipe last week, I didn’t have an egg beater either. I didn’t use a whisk, as the mixture appeared too dense for a a whisk. I used a big spoon.

    As I reported last week, your lebkuchen got rave reviews.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    Gringo: that makes me happy. I always like to spread the lebkuchen around.

  3. vanderleun Says:

    Oh yeah? I got nuttin!

  4. Sangiovese Says:

    I used a rotary beater for many years as a pancake-making and pancake-eating child. That was in the 60’s and early 70’s. As a young adult, I could only find one with the handle aligned on a 45-degree angle, which directed the downward force of my hand off to one side. Very poor design. I gave up and started mixing pancake batter with a fork. Until reading this entry today, I had completely forgotten about the rotary egg beater. It was a handy little device.

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    Sangiovese: It still is a handy little device.

    And those slanted ones were dreadful, you’re right.

  6. Sam L. Says:

    Going to Safeway today; will check.

    I don’t have one; don’t know why. Haven’t missed it, though.

  7. OlderandWheezier Says:

    Looks like the Oxo has gotten consistently positive reviews on Amazon. Maybe strange is good in this case.

  8. expat Says:

    I’ve never used an egg beater, but I tend to prefer old-fashioned hand tools. I have a 26-year-old electric hand mixer and an immersion blender, neither of which are luxury models. I use my whisks, potato masher, wooden spoons, and box grater, and, sometimes, my food mill. I have never had room to store a food processor or stand mixer.

    What I have noticed is how the all these things have gotten thicker handles as men have started cooking. My rather small hands work better with the old-fashioned cheap kinds.

    I guess I would want bigger appliances if I cooked for six every day, but for two people, I manage just fine with what I have. I do have quite a few pots and pans and I love kitchenware shops. There is a website for a place called Lehman’s, which sells to the Amish. They have quite a collection of old fashioned stuff.

  9. expat Says:

    Here is a link for Lehman’s if you want to prepare for a long blackout:

    It’s kind of fun to visit.

  10. vanderleun Says:

    RSVP Stainless Steel Vintage Style Egg Beater

    It’s just that simple

  11. chuck Says:

    Heh, that RSVP is the cheap alternative to the solid egg beater Neo posted a picture of. My mother had the latter, it was solid, quiet, and smooth in operation. The RSVP type clattered and vibrated.

  12. chuck Says:

    expat, thanks for the link. They sell one of the solid egg beaters ($79), but I bought the discounted Christmas fruit cake. I always got one from my late mother, so it is a reminder.

  13. Michael Adams Says:

    I went into Wal-Mart for some of those mini cassettes, the kind you put into a tape recorder to dictate notes to yourself. The guy there at least knew what they were, but no longer sells them. I grasped his arm desperately and said, “Tell me, son, are they still makin’ socks?”Have they been replaced by some weird electronic thing?” Sure, that’s a joke. However, my wife wanted to put some handkerchiefs in my stocking. She had the Devil’s own time finding them. Will socks be next?

  14. Kurt Says:

    The link for Lehman’s reminded me of the Vermont Country Store website, but, alas no egg beaters there, either. I’m sure my mother still has her egg beater (circa 1957, I would guess); I’ll need to check the next time I’m there. I never thought to buy one, though there are occasions when it would be better than a whisk and more convenient than an electric mixer. Mostly I use forks or whisks at my house. I dislike having to clean the electric mixer (which is cheap and underpowered anyway), so mostly that stays in the cabinet.

  15. Parker Says:

    If you don’t have an egg beater you are way too 21st century. Come back to the age of simplicity.

    We got to get out of here.

  16. Doom Says:

    Thanks, Neo. And Expat too, that looks to be a good site. I’m going non-electric. Not in a bid to save a world that will outlive us all, including flora and fauna, just for when/if electricity isn’t available. And… for a quieter life too. Egg beaters? I just hadn’t quite gotten to it. Heck, I didn’t even remember. Bah. Thanks again dear lady.

  17. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    Expat, that is a fun site to visit. As a dedicated cookie baker, my Mom called me one day, and said that she had bought me something at a garage sale. It turned out to be a new in box KitchenAid blender. I love that thing! I will probably make a batch of Skunk Cookies this weekend with it.

    Skunk Cookies are basically chocolate chip cookies, but when you add the chocolate chips, add an equall amount of white chips, ( skunk colors, you see ). Since the white chocolate chips are really a form of cocoa butter, some of them melt, and permeate the cookie, so you wind up with very moist, rich cookies. If you have access to Andes Cherry Parfait Mints, use then instead of the chocolate chips, use a whole box. Cherry Skunks are amazing!

  18. Susanamantha Says:

    If you have the storage space, each mixing utensil has its value. My balloon whisk is unbeatable for slowly incorporating oil into vinegar for salad dressings. Flat whisks get into the sides of cooking pots when I’m making sauces. Scrambling a few eggs? I grab my old-fashioned egg beater. A stand mixer lives on my counter and can do mixing chores while I do other things. The food processor makes short work out of grating, slicing, chopping large quantities. Otherwise, a Chef’s knife or box grater is fine. Admittedly, I’m a foodie, do lots of cooking and try to find the most efficient way for each kitchen chore.

  19. Sam L. Says:

    Got to Safeway: Nada. Went to Krogers-owned regional chain: Had only a vertical-handle one (sort of a knob on top) for $24–see the Oxo at Amazon. Kitchenware outlet: standard model, plastic gear-wheel, for $13.

    Looked at Did not find one. Amazon had 6.

  20. michele j Says:

    forget the Oxo- broke within the year-It’s plastic part holding the beaters together broke and can’t be fixed or used now.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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