From barbecues to ball games, summer means
outdoor eating. But do products that promise to keep food cold really work?
Kitchen Courier , Prodyne CB-3 Cold Bowl on Ice , Artisan Metal Works Insulated
stainless steel 3-quart serving bowl
A whole category of merchandise, from mugs to lunch boxes, pledges to keep
foods hot or cool, but our past tests have shown the items rarely deliver. When
we noticed serving dishes and grocery bags with temp claims (some promising to
keep food chilled for two to eight hours, others saying they’d keep food “cold”
or “fresh”), we had to see for ourselves.
How we tested: We set our climatology chamber to 700F with 50 percent
humidity, then 900F with 90 percent humidity, to simulate warm and
sweltering days. Each dish was filled with cold potato salad, and readings were
taken every 15 seconds until temps hit 410F (one degree above the
recommended food-storage temp). We also loaded insulated bags from the American
Bag Company ($20 for five) with refrigerated staples like juice and frozen fare
like ice cream, then ran the same test against grocery bags.
What we found: Not one of the containers came close to meeting its loftiest
claims. The Oggi Thermal Serving Tray performed the worst, with the salad
surpassing 400F in just a few minutes! The Aloha Big Chill’R and the
G&S Metal Products ThermaWare Unsulated Server came through, keeping food
cold for about two hours (if not their stated possible six hours). The
insulated bags only modestly extended the time some groceries could stay out of
the fridge. No surprise: They did best with the frozen foods.
The bottom line: These products may let your potluck contribution sit out on the
picnic table a little while longer, but all afternoon? Don’t count on it.
Not so cool
None of these serving dishes kept food cold
to the upper limits of their claims:
Aloha Big chill’R ($46)
Cello Kitchen Courier ($19) (1)
Frontgate Superchill 4-quart bowl ($80)
G&S Metal Products ThermaWare Insulated
4.5-quart Food Server ($20)
Oggi Thermal Serving Tray ($29)
While these didn’t make specific time
claims, in our tests they only kept food cold about 20 minutes longer than a
plain glass bowl:
Artisan Metal Works Insulated stainless steel
3-quart serving bowl ($41)(3)
The Container Store Ice & Go Salad Bowl
Elegance 11-inch Hammered Bowl ($33.31)
Food Network Covered Chiller Bowls ($40 for two)
Prodyne CB-3 Cold Bowl on Ice ($33)(2)
Price: $10 + $7 S&H for two
The pitch: “Stains
The Groutinator is an abrasive block that claims to restore the look of grout
and concrete stained by dirt, mildew, or hard water. A few testers liked that
they could skip chemicals or tools and clean even the thinnest grout lines. In
the lab and in testers’ homes, Groutinator proved great at removing nail
polish, good on coffee stains, and just OK on dirt, mildew, and rust; it didn’t
do much for driveways or garage floors. It needed to be resharpened several
times to clean an entire shower, leaving a mess of blue dust in its wake. (Have
a vacuum on hand.)
The bottom line: The cleaning process isn’t as effortless as the infomercial makes
it seem – it required some arm-fatiguing scrubbing. Most testers still
preferred cleanser and a brush.
The end of summer when your basement can
get damp and musty, is a savvy time to pick one up. A few things to keep in
If moisture is seasonal and confined to a
small area, a portable unit should do the trick. If humidity is a constant
problem throughout the house, you may need an integrated system; those
typically don’t go on sale.
Follow guidelines on the box. Small
dehumidifiers are cheap and easy to move, but if they’re not adequate for the
space, they won’t dehumidify effectively – better to get a larger unit.
Most dehumidifiers full an internal
reservoir and then, once full, shut off until emptied. They can be set up to
drain continuously into a sink or – if you buy one with a built-in pump – can
empty upward (out a basement window, for example).
Green solution - Benjamin moore natura paint
It’s free of VOCs (volatile organic
compounds), looks great, performs beautifully, and it’s the first pain to earn
the Green Good Housekeeping Seal. The base can be tinted more than 3500
VOC-free hues. The formula is virtually odorless, fast-drying, and
spatter-resistant, and it usually covers in a single coat. Benjamin Moore is
also reducing the energy used and waste produced during manufacturing and
distribution. Color us happy!