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KitchenAid mixers have thicker levers that still provide sophisticated control

KitchenAid mixers have thicker levers that still provide sophisticated control

I had to join a baking club to find out how good my KitchenAid stand mixer's controls are. Ever since I got it a few years ago, I've admired the simplicity of its two-lever system: one that lets you tilt the head up and down and another to control speed. But now that I've been using it every week, I've finally discovered what makes it click so well for me: it's the fact that the speed lever is strong and ruggedized while providing incredibly precise control. Is. Looks like.

The function of the speed control lever is pretty clear from its name: it lets you control how fast your mixer is mixing and also acts as an off switch on its "0" setting. The lever is a sturdy metal case, and my version of the mixer is sealed with a single piece of black plastic that holds several scoops, making it worse with rough fingers. When you move it back and forth, you hear (and feel) extremely satisfying clicks, which correspond to the numbers printed on the metal band.

(Before we move on, here's a disclosure: Vox Media's creative brand worked with KitchenAid to build content and advertising around its mixer. Had nothing to do; I only discovered it while researching.)

The first time I used my KitchenAid, I was actually a little annoyed at the clicks—what if I wanted to stay between the two speed settings, I thought. It turns out you totally could be; The clicks are for guidance, not as a rule, and you can set and release the lever between the two of them. This is where accuracy comes in. Maybe it's the final touch for me when I make icing: To keep the powdered sugar from flowing into every nook and cranny of my kitchen, I grab the lever and shake the middle. Turn off and do the first click, which moves the paddle attached to the mixer as carefully as I'd use a spoon.

It is ultimately a very simple yet effective mechanism for a simple yet effective tool. Part of that likely comes down to how long this design has been around; The KitchenAid model, introduced in the 1930s, has a remarkably similar-looking handle, as have most of the brand's mixers since then. (Though some models are controlled by a top-mounted dial.)

In many cases, it really wouldn't be surprising that KitchenAid takes a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to control over its mixers. Not that the working of its mixers has changed much over the years; We are still using them for cracking eggs, mixing flour and kneading dough. But to say that KitchenAid takes the easy route by not redesigning the controls would undermine the trend in the kitchen gadget and appliance industry to focus aesthetics over functionality.

There have been many discussions about how home cooking has changed in the age of Instagram, with some shoppers raving about how great their kitchens and food look on their feeds. As a result, many companies have begun trying to create products that are closer to the chic home decor or iPhone than a piece of industrial equipment found in home kitchens.

Even companies that have a reputation for being ruthlessly pragmatic are no exception to this; Vitamix is ​​starting to add touch controls and screens to some of its high-end blowers, and Wolf has gone a similar route with some of its ovens. When it comes to direct competitors to KitchenAid's iconic design, the Breville (or Sage for those across the pond) has a mixer that combines a dial and a smattering of lights to control and indicate your mixing speed. Uses series. Uses, and it's far from the only company to try. To make your controls easier.

And, of course, KitchenAid has played up the aesthetics game in some ways; Arguably one of the reasons mixers are the de facto standard is the fact that they are made in almost a million colors, so anyone can find one to fit in with their decor. Even my beloved Speed ​​Lever isn't 100 percent immune to beautification; On some models, the tip is made of shiny metal instead of utilitarian black plastic. But it was, in some form, the lever on every stand mixer I saw on KitchenAid's website.

It's always possible that the company will turn the lever for something else, going down the route of pursuing new and marketable user interfaces and form factors. However, I wouldn't cry if this happens, mainly because my mixer is already equipped with one. And if the machine is anywhere near as robust and thoughtfully designed as its controls, I shouldn't worry about replacing it anytime soon.

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