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Ode to the electric kettle

I am fascinated by household items that seem absolutely necessary to some cultures and others have never even heard of them.


When I moved into my first home in the US with my husband I thought it was a fun little quirk of his to have what I considered a "retro" kettle that heats water on

the stovetop and whistles when it‘s ready. I had seen those in old black-and-white movies. How cute. And oof, how cumbersome.


But, to my surprise, it wasn‘t a fun quirk, they are used in pretty much all American households I‘ve seen… and electric kettles, also known as the best invention since sliced bread (a little hyperbole never hurt anyone…) are nowhere to be found.

In a moment of scientific fervor I went to look for answers to the mind boggling question of why Americans seem to stick to such an old-school way of water heating when modern convenience is easily available. Turns out it is believed to have to do with the voltage difference in European and US-American households? I don‘t know, pretty flimsy excuse to not use something so brilliant.


Now I’ve made it a game in my head – spot the Euro household… and so far my theory holds up. Or, as my Mexican-American friend, who is married to a French guy, said: Yes, we have an electric kettle – But I still use the microwave to heat water... like a good American does!


What other household items are out there that you can find in one culture and are not at all common in another? I‘ll go first … anyone know what this is?



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