Your Crock-Pot won’t kill you

Admit it, fans of the NBC series, “This is Us.” You spent part of Wednesday wondering if your Crock-Pot is a death trap.

We know now that a faulty switch on a Crock-Pot is what killed Jack, the heroic father. Next week’s episode will contain all the details as he rescues his family, as the show becomes “Us Minus One.”

The Crock-Pot. We should have known.

This is a problem for the company that makes Crock-Pots, the Washington Post says. Who’s going to buy something that might kill your family?

The company had to rush into action on Wednesday, issuing this statement:

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 one 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.

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.

As any parent can tell you, the fear of being killed by a kitchen appliance pales in comparison to the fear of being a parent.

The Post story, by the way, is the rare time you do want to read the comments.

My Crock Pot came into my bedroom while I was asleep last night and tried to kill me with a kitchen knife. I was able to fight it off, turn it back down to “low”, escape through the window and call the sheriff to activate the Crock Pot SWAT team.

The hostage negotiator is trying to talk it out now, they’ve offered conjugal visits with the hot plate if it surrenders quietly.

  • wjc

    So we have to delve deeper into Crock-PotGate. The company wrote: “In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible.”

    So it IS possible, then. Why haven’t we known about this danger in our midst?

    ;-D

  • Guest

    WAIT WHAT, do you mean to tell me what I see on TV is FICTION ?????

    “Tell me it ain’t so, Joe” 🙂

  • RBHolb

    Stories like this just reinforce my decision to cut way back on TV viewing.

    • It’s a good show. Especially if you’re a parent. Some great acting, particularly by Sterling K. Brown. See the episode where he had a breakdown at work. He pretty well nailed it.

    • Ben Chorn

      But have you stopped entirely? Are you sure your TV isn’t going to burst into flames and kill your family?

      • RBHolb

        As if its ability to control our minds was not enough, now I have something else to keep me awake.

  • Al

    If I’m gonna go with completely implausible things to watch on TV, I’ll stick with Doctor Who and Stranger Things.

  • jon

    //The product is designed to cook foods over a longer period of time at low temperatures and the switches connect to only one side of the power line voltage, so there is never a high voltage applied directly across our switches.

    I don’t follow…

    I mean technically 125v AC power (what comes out of a standard US outlet) isn’t “high voltage” by at least several definitions which is usually defined as being over 600-1000 volts AC… but that has nothing to do with how the power lines are connected to a switch, it has far more to do with what the power lines are connected as a source of power…. and if you find a 1000+v power source I can assure you that plugging a crock pot into such thing is a good way to get a spark going for a fire, arcing is likely to occur at that point in the switch.

    Public relations should have an engineer look over their final draft before pushing it out.

  • Veronica

    Now let’s wait for the “Crock-pot officials are lying about how deadly their product is and here’s why” take, probably from Slate* because it’s a perfect Slate pitch.

    Now toasters, on the other hand…

    *I do love some Slate writers and the Culture Gabfest is one of my favorite things, but I’ll place money on this.

  • FWIW: I had a slow cooker burst into flames back in the early 1990’s while cooking dinner.

    Pretty sure it was my fault, though, as it was on my range and i accidentally flipped on one of the electric burners.

    Had to put it out with a fire extinguisher…and the fire department showed up to give my neighbors a little entertainment.

    /I ordered a pizza after that

    • cc

      fwiw: slow cooker crocks are designed to only be used in the crockpot element, not on range top. and yes, I did something similar a couple decades ago, when I put my crock on a ceramic top range to reheat. the intense rapid heating caused the bottom to suddenly crack, leaking the stew liquid out. fortunately it was a glasstop range so cleanup wasn’t bad. I was able to salvage dinner by quickly putting the crock into a large steel mixing bowl and ladling out the remaining stew.

      • Oh, it was in the crockpot element, I just accidentally turned the burner on underneath it.

        /No one has ever accused me of being smart.

        😀

        • cc

          yikes. well, you and me both…

  • jon

    So I know a pressure cooker and a crock pot are different things, but my sister is big into the “insta-pot” which is just an electric pressure cooker, looks alot like a crockpot (and can serve that function if needed).

    which brings me to this:
    https://what-if.xkcd.com/40/

  • Kitty Kat

    This show helped viewers realize to get rid of OLD appliances not new ones…The neighbors had given that crock pot that was sitting in their garage for years to Jack, over time wires/knobs/coils do wear down..I think *This Is Us* made this a great PSA to check all your appliances for wear & tear while creating a great storyline on how Jack died..Personally I never trusted nor left any appliance on when not home, even the oven to run to a local store for a few minutes..safety first…

  • Hollywood has a rich history of producing scenarios where electrical equipment or control panels smoke and burn if not outright explode, because of course no one ever invented the fuse and circuit breaker.

    • But a circuit breaker/fuse only protects the wire. I’m not sure it would’ve done anything to stop an arc’ing switch.

      • If the arc were to the other side of the line and drew current in excess of the fuse rating, the fuse would blow and open the circuit. If it arced across the two poles of the switch, it would not open the fuse.

        • And the most likely outcome of an arcing switch is that the arc is contained within the switch housing, and the contacts are melted to the point where the gap exceeds the ability of the voltage to sustain it, and the switch is permanently open.

  • Jon Bruns

    I will say, watching the episode did prompt me to buy all new smoke detectors for our house, something that probably needed to be done, as I couldn’t recall the last time they had been replaced. I was wondering how many others did the same.

  • Laurie K.

    When I watched this episode it immediately reminded me of an incident with a crock pot that my husband had. We had received a crockpot as a wedding gift years ago from a family member who means well, but has given some pretty strange/questionable gifts in the past. We noticed right away that it appeared to be used, but my husband is cheap [or frugal, depending upon who’s telling the story] and insisted on using it. One day I came home from work to find the crock pot on the back steps – roast beef and all. I get inside and my husband is clearly distraught. I asked what happened – he had spilled a glass of water on the counter and was wiping it up when he got knocked on his butt – the crock pot apparently had a live wire coming out of the bottom that made contact with the water on the counter. The moral of the story – don’t be cheap! 🙂