Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

Smooth or consequences
The evolution of the modern blender
By MAG RUFFMAN, Special to QMI Agency

This new blender (left) will crush ice for cocktails without rupturing your guests' eardrums, like Mag Ruffman's 30-year-old model (right).

Perhaps you know the pain of owning an older blender. Whenever you make blender drinks you must first herd all of your guests outside for their own protection – lest their eardrums rupture from the noise.

And even with the searing racket, your old blender merely gums the ice cubes into gently rounded lumps rather than reducing them to crushed ice.

If you share my pain, read on.

Blend aid

When I had a chance to test a Breville IKON blender, the first thing I did was slap a decibel meter on the old blender and compare it to the newer model. The results were ridiculous.

I put two ice cubes in the old blender and turned it on. As it gnashed its worn-out teeth on ricocheting ice cubes, the noise pinned the needle so far into the red that bats probably died across my municipality.

The new blender, however, was quiet enough that I could actually talk over the sound of it working.

If 70 decibels is the rating for “busy traffic” (and the level at which constant exposure becomes a risk to your hearing), my old blender would achieve the decibel rating of “being strapped to the pontoon of a seaplane during take-off.”

The new blender topped out at 64 dB, even with a hopper full of ice cubes.

The Breville model also sports a Smoothie setting. After whipping the ingredients to milkshake consistency, the Smoothie setting pulses every few seconds to keep the ingredients in solution until you're ready to pour it.

This is a great feature if you're on a high-fibre program, since the bottom of the smoothie, if left to settle, will be a sunken glop of flax seeds, bran and un-digestible vegetation. Who wants to see that unappetizing tar pit of bowel stimulants at the bottom of their glass?

Litre of the pack

Since my blender is older than the metric system, its scratched plastic housing is embossed with illegible imperial measurements. The Breville blender includes both metric and imperial measurements in highly visible white enamel on the outside of the glass jug.

The Breville’s stainless steel housing is easy to clean, and gooey stuff never dribbles down between buttons because the controls are covered with a spill-proof membrane.

Cleaning the new model involves the usual step of unscrewing the base from the jug - but they make it easy with the inclusion of a large plastic wrench that minimizes the risk of herniating something important.

The weight of the new blender is three times that of my early plastic model. This might be a concern if you're storing the blender at the back of a lower cabinet. On the other hand, the weight reduces vibration, and the unit is good-looking enough to perch on the counter.

An unimaginably satisfying design bonus is an opening in the plug that lets you insert an index finger to easily pull out the plug instead of having to grip it and yank it out of the wall.

I'm not here to encourage wild consumerism, but if you haven't updated your blender in 30 years, the newer designs have come a long way and they’re way quieter.

Oh, and here's a tip from my friend Julie. The Breville blender costs about $180 retail, but Julie got all of her new kitchen appliances at no cost through the Air Miles rewards program. So check your miles; your new blender may be closer than you think.

Mag Ruffman appears weekdays on Real Life on CTS. Visit her online at

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