Its Time Has Come?

Minute Minder

I can’t say I ask all that much of a kitchen timer. All I want is something that if I set it for, say, eight minutes, that after that period of time has elapsed, it was alert me that the period of time I set it for has elapsed. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to set the timer on my new oven.

I have a personal, some might say – slightly unnatural – relationship with each and every timer I’ve ever used. When I was baking professionally, a Minute Minder was there all the time – it’s slightly elongated ring was the constant muzak of my life. But it wasn’t annoying because the gentle *ding* didn’t jolt you out of baking reality, but was just part of the music accompanying the meditative process of baking a batch of cookies.

I can’t wrap my head around those new-fangled electronic timers, which require a degree in computer programming to set for ten minutes. With a Minute Minder, you didn’t need to take an aptitude test before using it – you just turned the knob, then it did was it was supposed to do. And that was that.

kitchen timers

So I was deeply distressed to learn the my favorite timer had undergone a transformation, and not for the better. Although I normally believe everything I read online, even though the reviews for it have become not enthusiastic, I refused to believe that anyone could talk trash about my timer. And last time I was in the states, I picked one up.

And the other day, I finally took it out of the package to take it for a spin with a tray of chocolate chip cookies. I mixed up a nice batch, ate the required 10-25% of the dough before I scooped them out, then put them in the oven and went about doing other things, relying on the trusty timer to alert me when they’d be done. Normally I watch anything in the oven like a hawk, timer or no timer, but darn it, I put my faith in my brand-new Minute Minder. And if you can’t trust a Minute Minder, well, what can you trust?

burnt cookies

Needless to say, I got burned. There was no ding, none of that familiar ticking – nothing. I gave it a few more spins, turning the knob past the 15 minute mark, as usual, and letting her go. Then – once again – nothing.

iphone timer

I know a number of people like to use the timer on their smartphones, but I guess I’m getting crotchety in my old age because I’m having a hard time accepting change. Please come back MM, because I refuse to believe our time has come, and gone.

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  • meryl
    July 15, 2012 2:14pm

    I’ve been using the Oxo timer forever. Works perfectly each time!

  • Kim Uyyek
    July 15, 2012 3:47pm

    I like my Pampered Chef timer, but then again, I have an old one, so the newer model may have changed. Thank goodness for ebay :)

  • Gay Kimelman
    July 15, 2012 5:48pm

    Don’t give up! Maybe something happened to it in your luggage. I recently bought a new one. I had remodeled my kitchen and didn’t want to put the old, dirty, yellowing (but not broken) one on my new counter. Its perfect. When I want to time something for less than 30 minutes, I do turn the knob past 30 minutes first (just saying…). Anyway, there’s nothing like it. I’m sure it will end up in the Museum of Modern Art.

  • July 15, 2012 5:53pm

    I purposely choose an annoying timer like the microwave oven timer because it will beep at the designated time and continue beeping until I tell it to shut up. THis is handy because during baking times, I end up doing other things around the house such as laundry etc….and I forget about my kitchen project. then it beeps and i say “oh sh!t – my casserole” or whatever… :)
    with the other timer, it buzzes but then what if i didn’t hear the buzz? :)

    clearly you don’t have this issue because you are a success!!!!!

  • Bebe
    July 15, 2012 6:34pm

    For some reason “Previous Comments” have disappeared. ???

  • Bebe
    July 15, 2012 6:35pm

    Never mind, David. Apparently my posting unlocked “Previous Comments” for me.

    The internet can be such fun….

    Thanks for your great blog….

  • July 15, 2012 6:55pm

    The best timer that has never failed me,Typhoon :-)

  • Carol Hiebert
    July 15, 2012 8:49pm

    I hate it when manufacturers decide to “improve” or “update” things that work perfectly well and don’t need a new look or new bells and whistles.

    I like my small, slim, inexpensive, electronic Polder timer. It has a numeric key pad that goes up to 99 hrs and 99 min (imagine needing that), a beeper that is loud enough beep to hear in another room, and it is small enough be worn comfortably on a supplied lanyard if you need to go out range.

  • adrian
    July 15, 2012 9:53pm

    I once asked for a good kitchen timer for Christmas and I got… an Alessi Alphonse. The thing looks weird, but the sound is OK. The cool thing is the dial on this digital timer, works like a charm. The faster you turn it, the faster the numbers on the timer change to the desired setting. Love it!

  • carla
    July 15, 2012 10:07pm

    I feel you David: I was crushed when my Junghans Alarm clock broke beyond repair. It was the only thing that would wake me up in the morning. Now I rely on my mobile phone and most of the time do not hear it and get waked up by my boyfriend, who is up at the first ring!
    For baking I just eye my normal kitchen watch and the oven ;)

  • Estelle
    July 16, 2012 5:03am

    My timer clips on to my jeans so there is no chance I won’t hear it. There are quite a few on the net..Why not have a look. I’d never use my cell for this job.

  • July 16, 2012 7:40am

    Thanks, David for this post! I have been suffering from my timer’s incompetence for a few years with no success finding a successful replacement. Sometimes it rings and sometimes it does not, and it is an expensive one too from a reputable kitchen supply store. Usually it is my poached eggs that get overcooked :( Please let us know when you find a replacement you like.

  • barknot
    July 17, 2012 7:55am

    Did you check the batteries?

  • Robyn Holt
    July 18, 2012 6:01pm

    I actually regularly buy hairdressers timers, very cheap but work for as long as any of the others I have spent money on.

  • JJ
    July 19, 2012 2:37am

    I second the 3 in 1 Timer, Clock & Stopwatch by Polder,

    It is annoying loud, comes with a lanyard so you can hang it around your neck or what I like to do is hang it off my oven door handle with a high temp silicon rubber band.

    I like the clock, the count up/down feature and I have several for timing different dishes in the oven or on the stove.

  • Lola
    July 19, 2012 6:39am

    I am a scientist and use the timer we use at the lab, there is actually an app for it called labtimer. I personally use the Fischer brand, but there are more out there.You can order them online. They are very precise and allow you to time up to 4 different things (good for thanksgiving!) at the same time. After all we do science with them and results have to be very accurate. Hope this helps.

  • Annie
    July 21, 2012 12:07am

    ebay, dude.

  • Jen
    July 25, 2012 5:17am

    I hate those digital timers with only a minimum number of buttons. My digital timer has all the digits 0-9, and separate stop/cancel and start buttons, so it’s a no brainer to use.

  • Merle. Wright
    August 11, 2012 3:40pm

    I have been a dealer of baking and restaurant equipment and supplies for over thirty years. The longer I am in the business, the more complicated timers have become. Why? We must go back to basics!