Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spies, Eggs, Landfills & Non-Stick Polymers

Last night I watched the premiere of show called Human Target. I had no intention of doing that until it was was described as "James Bond on Adrenalin." Isn't that redundant? I had to see what would be "James Bond on Adrenalin."

The show was over-sold, but still pretty good. It's about some sort of top secret get-the-bad-guys team. Like spies, but not quite. And apparently the adrenalin part is that they keep flashing forward, then flashing back, then flashing back again. It made an OK story slightly more interesting.

I'm going to try that technique in this post - in hopes it will make this OK post slightly more interesting.

Last Thursday night I had a nightmare. I was at the stove, trying to fry an egg. People were watching me do this for some reason. The details of this dream are sketchy. I must've been watching the Food Network before bed.

So I'm trying to perform egg-frying before the audience but it is sticking horribly to the pan. I go through all the pans in my kitchen, and it won't work on any of them. This upsets me greatly and I wake up all the sudden with panicked heavy breathing. (You mean you've never had a nightmare involving eggs?)

About 7-8 years ago Rick (yes Rick, not me) was pining for Calphalon cookware. I found a great deal on a set of Calphalon non-stick. Plus I had a 20% off coupon for that store, so we bought them. I have loved them (and only hand washed them and only used nylon utensils in them). However, the non-stick coating was starting to flake off in the most used pans.

Not only is this frustrating, causing food to stick to them, but we've all heard the health warnings about ingesting the non-stick coating stuff, right? Eww. Those warnings get to me.

Yesterday my husband announced that he knew what he wanted to buy both our children when they get married. Both our kids are currently under the age of 12. "Um, what?" I took the bait. "Calphalon," he replied decidedly.

So what prompted this given that our Calphalon non-stick was not sticking to the Calphalon?

Not only do health warnings get to me but so do all the warnings I hear about how our landfills are filling up. I'm into recycling. So the idea of throwing away perfectly good, expensive cookware because the top 1/16th of an inch of coating was failing, made me cringe. But I can't fix these pans either. So the first week of January, I spent $12.00 to ship them all back to Calphalon, with a letter explaining my ordeal.

Every Sunday this month I've been going to cooking demonstrations at Williams and Sonoma. They're free and fun - although they're not really free unless you can get out of the store afterwards without buying something. I love me some (overpriced) Williams and Sonoma, y'all. Well, the nice lady at Williams and Sonoma told me Calphalon might replace my pans with new ones if I sent them back. But if they did, she said they would replace them with the newest version of the same product. Meaning, more non-stick cookware. I didn't want more non-stick, given those health warnings and my proclivity for Epicurean nightmares.

On January 6, Rick, the kids and I walked our boxed up flaking Calphalon into the UPS shipping store. We chatted it up with the nice 20-something man working the counter. He told us his mom gave him new Pampered Chef cookware for Christmas because she got it 1/2 price for hosting a party. Pampered Chef lets you return anything that fails at anytime if you have the receipt. The guy said, "So I've now got cookware for life! When it wears out, I'll send it back for free replacements." You're seeing the impetus here for Rick's wedding present idea.

Enclosed with the flaking cookware was a letter I wrote, kindly telling Calphalon that I would love some replacement pans if they were willing to send me some but that I absolutely didn't want non-stick coatings on them. That I'd rather get nothing back - have they not read those health warnings?

So that Friday morning I wake up still rattled by my egg-frying dream. I come downstairs and eat a Zone Perfect bar for breakfast - remember all our pans were shipped back over a week ago. Then I sat down to my desk to work. Ding-Dong. Thud. I open the door to find a large brown box on the porch. Inside were brand new, Calphalon One, hard-anodized pots and pans without the traditional non-stick coating. There is some non-stick polymer thing, however, infused down into the pan. They say it cannot scratch or flake off.

I don't know if they will hold up any better over the next 7-8 years, or if the sticking-egg dream will become a recurring nightmare. (Rick's first batch of scrambled eggs stuck to the pan, but cleaned up easily with Bar Keeper's Friend.) But for just $12 in shipping, I'm willing to give this new set a try.

If it doesn't work, perhaps I'll call on the team at Human Target to pay a little visit to the team at Calphlon and demonstrate to them the kind of adrenalin I experience at night when I have pans that won't fry eggs.

Thankful for good customer service and my new pans.

{This post is linked to Food on Fridays at Ann Kroeker's blog}


  1. Girl, you are crazy. But then again I already knew that. Congrats on the new pans. Now I have pan envy.

    I wonder if Target will give me new pans if I take them back?

  2. Jennifer ReneeJanuary 21, 2010

    I agree with Marybeth. You are crazy but you hav me smiling and laughing to myself. I needed that today. Growing up we always had Calphalon pots and pans so I know exactly what your talking about. I hated when the coating flaked off. I don't remember what my first set was made of but since I don't really cook or fry anything anymore I got rid of them all and just have one pot and baking pans. I'm trying to use a crockpot mor often since I got one for Christmas.

  3. Okay, you win and beat my thrift store tale. This is great and hats off to the Calphalon company for great customer service.

    As a chef I have to agree with you about the non stick coating stuff. Eww! By the way I thought dreams involving food were perfectly normal until you brought it up. Now I have another reason to question them. LOL

    For any kitchen to function properly you have got to have good basics. Pots and pan, knives and the basic cooking utensils (ones that don't bend or rust when you use them.) After all you won't want a doctor to operate on you one or two of his tools from the dollar store.

    Great blog,

  4. how funny! I'm so glad that you got your money's worth...again. ;) Hope you LUV your new pans. i need some new ones so this was helpful!

  5. You are such a smart consumer!

  6. I am not so into cooking.....YET
    so all I can say is that I AM happy with what you got IN return.

    In my country I dont think we can even do things like that.That system does not work here at all.

    Anyways Have a blessed weekend


  7. Gorgeous pans. My BIL got one of this set for Christmas and you can be sure that he researched them very carefully for the health research on the polymers, etc before asking for one. So enjoy!

    P.s. You handled the writing technique beautifully too!

  8. Great story! I especially liked that you wove your egg-frying dream into it, but what a wonderful climax to the story--bing-bong! "Calphalon, take me away!"

    Now I'm hankering for a set myself!

  9. Rachel, you make me laugh! Good for you for sending your pans back to the company! I have done the same over the years and had blinds, a basketball goal, and a sweater replaced all for free just by letting the companies know of a fault in their product.

    Continue to let us know how that new cookware works for you. Meanwhile, I'll keep using my flaked non-stick cookware and pray the nightmares will elude me!


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