A public-relations nightmare has bubbled up around the age-old appliance known as the pressure cooker. All it took was a plot twist in the popular NBC television drama This is Us. The beloved matriarch of the show, Jack Pearson, played by actor Milo Ventimiglia, apparently was done in by a slow cooker. A faulty switch on the kitchen gadget sparked a fatal fire. Fans of the show took to social media to passionately protest the protagonist’s cause of death.
“That’s it, I’m throwing my crockpot out. Omg.”
“I’ve never hated a Crock-Pot more in my life.”
“I get married in less than 2 months and suddenly I feel the need to remove the crockpot from the registry. WE. DONT. NEED. IT.”
The Twitter posts go on and on. One included a video of a woman dragging a bag of trash to the dumpster. It reads, “Me throwing away my crock pot because it killed Jack.”
“Whether it was out of a sense of personal safety, petty revenge or the sneaking suspicion that their slow cookers were mocking their pain, “This Is Us” viewers threatened to rid themselves of their once-loved kitchen items – or vowed to never get one in the first place,” states a Today article titled “‘This Is Us’ fans are ready to throw out their slow cookers after latest episode.”
The tweeting continued.
“It’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day….to be a crockpot.”
“#ThisIsUs just destroyed the entire crock pot industry!”
Newell Brands, the company that owns Crock-Pot, tried to turn the tide on the tongue-in-cheek commentary by releasing a statement to NBC News.
“Crock-Pot understands the concerns brought up by last night’s episode of ‘This Is Us,’ and we too are heartbroken by the latest development in Jack’s storyline. However, it is important that our consumers understand and have confidence that all Crock-Pot slow cookers exceed all internal testing protocols and all applicable industry safety standards and regulations as verified by independent third-party testing labs. For nearly 50 years with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode. In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible. In addition, and most relevant to the concerns consumers are having after watching the recent ‘This Is Us’ episode, our Crock-Pot slow cookers are low current, low wattage (typically no more than 200 or 300 watts) appliances with self-regulating, heating elements. The product is designed to cook foods over a longer period of time at low temperatures and the switches connect to only 1 side of the power line voltage, so there is never a high voltage applied directly across our switches. The switches within our slow cookers are subjected to additional internal testing, which includes a Rotary Knob Endurance test, Rotary Knob Force Test and Flame Burning Test and constructed of self-extinguishing, flame resistant material.”
The statement concludes, “Our hope is that the team at NBC’s ‘This Is Us’ will help us in spreading factual information regarding our product’s safety. While we know their primary mission is to entertain – something they have continued to excel in – we also feel they have a responsibility to inform. Just like many fans, we will be watching next week’s episode to see how Jack’s story progresses and, regardless of the outcome, we want consumers first and foremost to know they are safe when using their Crock-Pot.”
But are consumers safe when using their Crock-Pot? Several injuries have been linked to various models of pressure cookers, many of which have been recalled. While one model of Instant Pot has been removed from the marketplace because it has electrically shocked users, another model remains for sale even though it is at risk of overheating and melting at its base. The company is offering free replacements.
“We can assure you, you will soon receive instructions on how to receive a free replacement Gem 65 8-in-1 Multicooker,” Instant Pot’s marketing manager, Anna Di Meglio, wrote in an email to Cooking Light. “In the meantime, we again ask that you stop using your Gem 65 8-in-1 Multicooker.”
The company said on Facebook it is working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and offered a toll-free number (800-828-7280, Ext. 2) to call. But consumers would be better served if the Gem 65 8-in-1 Multicooker was recalled. Children could be burned – pets, too – and fires could start. The company’s post was in response to one by a Michigan woman who said she received an Instant Pot for Christmas and, after using it four times, noticed the base had melted and the wiring was singed.
“….this could have cost me my home and at worst my family!” Vanessa LaClair wrote. “…I searched everywhere online and there is no recall which scares me because they’re aware of this issue and they’re not making it known unless you contact them.”
No one wants the plot twist in This Is Us to become reality.