Business

High-end blenders are the latest 'it' kitchen gadget

With touch screens, multi-horsepower motors that are often more powerful than a lawnmower and price tags that fall just short of $1,000, high-powered blenders are a common sight in cafés and smoothie bars. But now, manufacturers are angling for ordinary consumers.

Appliances costing hundreds to thousands of dollars are popular in home kitchens

Expensive, high-end blenders have become the new kitchen status symbol. (Vitamix/Facebook)

With touch screens, multi-horsepower motors that are often more powerful than a lawnmower and price tags that fall just short of $1,000, high-powered blenders are nothing new.

They've been a common sight in cafés and smoothie bars for decades. But now, manufacturers are angling for ordinary consumers.

One of the pioneers of the industry gained fame through an ongoing series of viral videos. Beginning in 2006, Blendtec began producing a series called "Will it Blend?"

The goal was to place an endless array of objects inside their blenders and see what happens. Golf balls, cellphones, marbles and almost any food you can imagine have been featured.

Jed Grieve, who runs a chain of kitchen equipment stores in Victoria and Vancouver, B.C., began selling high-end blenders like the Blendtec a couple of years ago and says sales are still climbing.

"It is a bit of a cultural phenomenon," he said.

"The volume of these units that are being sold right now by us and across the market is ridiculous. I have never seen one electrical appliance, a small-scale appliance, sell the way in which these high-powered blenders are selling."

Grieve said blenders costing several hundred dollars have become aspirational objects, with no sign of slowing sales.

The once ordinary blender, it seems, has joined fancy cars and tech toys. In other words, if you want to make your pals envious, it seems you just have to talk about your new blender.

The TV show Bojack Horseman pokes fun at the popularity of high-powered blenders. (Netflix)
As the popularity of high-priced blenders has grown, so has a sort of backlash.

Saturday Night Live got in the joke, too, in a sketch where comedian Sarah Silverman ditched any effort at a real punchline. Instead, she allowed the real price of the blender to speak for itself.

Grieve gets the joke and admits that as sales climb, so do polarizing opinions.

"There are people all the time who will come into our stores and look at the price of a blender. You can see them just trying to calculate what they're looking at; they don't understand," he said.

"In their lifestyle, they don't need them. Fine, they're saving themselves money. But there are a lot of people who have convinced themselves that this is something that makes their lives better."

Two companies, Blendtec and Vitamix, dominate the high-powered blender market, but almost every blender manufacturer has joined in with high-end models.

Utah-based Blendtec doubled its sales in 2014 and expects similar growth in 2015. Meanwhile, Vitamix has more than tripled its sales since 2010.

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