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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  • July 13, 2012 9:41am

    Aww this post made me smile. I’ve had my timer woes before, mostly of the sort where I can’t free my hands to turn off the timer, though, so I find myself listening to it like the “muzak” you describe. The smartphone timer works well, but I find my cell gets a little too sticky in the process. Bon courage with your timer transition!

  • July 13, 2012 9:43am

    Oh no!! What a sad story. RIP Minute Minder. I have a cool old school chicken timer that I use all the time. In fact I have a couple (and by a couple I mean 5). I think I see a chicken timer in your future.

  • July 13, 2012 10:51am

    I do use my iPhone. and I don’t remember using any other tool :)
    the cookies look delicious. will you give us the recipe ?

    The recipe is in my book, Ready for Dessert. – dl

  • Annemette
    July 13, 2012 11:18am

    “ate the required 10-25% of the dough” – that’s my kind of cooking ; )
    I remember my parents had an egg clock from swiss/swedish Bengt EK, which worked perfectly for many years, and I believe they make a lot of non-digital timers. Since it is a swiss brand, you might be able to find it here in France too?

  • Charlotte K
    July 13, 2012 12:12pm

    It’s so true, they are not what they were. I got a double analog timer from Sur La Table or Williams Sonoma about five years ago when I melted my trusty Minute Minder. One side goes up to an hour and one goes to 20 minutes. It’s very sturdy and does keep time just fine, but the alarm bell is short. Still, might be better than your phone (I only use that on walks!)

    This isn’t what I got, but it specifically says “Long Ring” from SLT:

  • Sarah
    July 13, 2012 1:05pm

    Yeah… Gave up on timers… Just the hawk technique.

    I never understood how a recipe could turn out 3 dozen cookies– you mean they don’t account for the eating of the raw dough part??

  • July 13, 2012 1:19pm

    I inherited my current home from my mother, and many of the appliances were as old as the house itself–the washer was 30 years old, one of the stoves must have been forty, and the hot water heaters at least 25. Although I have had since had to replace them, it’s amazing how long things were designed to last in our grandparents and even parent’s generation. I’m sad to see yet another trusted brand is no longer ‘what it was.’

  • July 13, 2012 1:31pm

    Let’s hope for a return of the original Minute Minder!

    I used my (not fancy, old-fashioned) cell phone as a kitchen timer only once: it landed face-down in the bowl full of freshly beaten meringue. Sticky matter, I am still trying to pry loose the one or other stuck-on key. ;-)

  • Rachel
    July 13, 2012 1:32pm

    I am comforted to know that other sane adults eat a quarter of the dough before it even becomes cookies. I don’t even like cookies as much as I like cookie dough. Once they’re baked, others can eat them.

  • Vanessa
    July 13, 2012 1:36pm

    whats the name of the recipie? i have the book but i cant recall the picture! ><

  • July 13, 2012 1:42pm

    Funny the things we get attached to! I have a bright pink, sand timer-shaped, digital thingy made by Salter. It has little digital grains of sand that I like, it’s loud enough to hear from the next room but not obnoxiously so, and I just love it. If it ever dies I think it’ll take me a long time to get over it.

  • July 13, 2012 1:50pm

    I purchased one of these last time we flew up to the wonderful Hawaiin Islands for a holiday. Works really well – one problem is that there’s been a few times when I’ve set the time and have forgotten to start it !!! But that says more about me than than the timer – cheers from Auckland New Zealand :)

    CDN Timer

  • July 13, 2012 2:47pm

    I am one of those who have a smart phone but I still prefer to use my old school timer that rings so loud when the time is up. And this timer that I have is the alarm clock of my kids. When they hear it ring, it tells them I’m home and cooking something nice for them. I love my timer!

  • Amanda
    July 13, 2012 3:16pm

    I work in molecular biology and find that the freebie lab timers we get at conferences are excellent in the kitchen. Especially for those of us with very short attention spans. They’re incredibly easy to set, will beep loudly for about 1.5 minutes, and can’t be very expensive as they give them away for free wherever biologists gather. Bonus if you’re multi-tasking: on some models you can set up to 4 separate timers going at the same time. Also, you can have them count UP rather than down if you prefer.

    This is the actual item we use in the lab: Fisher Scientific Big-Digit Timer/Stopwatch

  • July 13, 2012 3:27pm

    I use the smartphone method, but that fails for me sometimes too — if I have certain apps running, they disrupt the alarm app somehow and silences the ring.

  • July 13, 2012 3:35pm

    Head for an antique store. I have a timer that used to be a great aunt’s. Thing’s like a tank.

  • July 13, 2012 3:40pm

    I use my oven’s or else the microwave’s timers, or even my smart phone. Melted my minute minder years ago, but found some online for about 8 bucks (looks like the old ones.)

    My husband bought me a fancy new digital timer to put on our yogurt maker (like one of those lamp turner-onner-and-offer things), but I can’t figure the dumb thing out. The old school dial one works fine for me. (Also great for a crock pot if you have an old one like mine and need it to turn on or off at a specific time.)

  • July 13, 2012 3:48pm

    They need to pay more attention to the bells and whistles (and chimes and buzzes) so they will be useful but not obnoxious. Our waffle iron has a l-o-n-g awful electronic buzz which is so loud it hurts our ears! But the dang thing makes great waffles, so we keep it.

  • July 13, 2012 3:53pm

    A good timer is worth its weight in gold. I’m a reluctant convert to the electronic type. I have one that is rumored to hold 3 timer setting, though I’m damned if I can figure out how to enter more than one, and besides, I’m suspicious of something that can multi-task better than I can. One of the benefits of the flat digital timers is that they can be carried around in a pocket while one is multi-tasking. Unfortunately, the pocket can also reset the time. Life is inherently imperfect.

  • July 13, 2012 4:06pm

    My life changed when I got one of these:
    Now we own three and I can’t tell you how often they are all in use — one for the laundry in the basement whose signal is out of earshot and the other two for cooking or other deadlines. I can set one when I slide something into the oven, hang the thing around my neck, slip it under my shirt, and head out to the garden to work without fear of coming back into a smoky kitchen. Wonderful!

  • July 13, 2012 4:21pm

    Since the built-in timer on my oven died, I’ve been using the kitchen timer function of my microwave. Except that it beeps just once when the set time has elapsed….I can’t hear it from the other end of the house. So I’m in the market for a new timer myself.

  • debbie in toronto
    July 13, 2012 4:22pm

    hate to say it but Ikea has one that is brightly coloured (so you can’t miss it) , ticks very loudly and rings a really annoying ring when time is up….and el cheapo bien sur……check it out.

  • Elizabeth Busch-Le Ne
    July 13, 2012 4:24pm

    I absolutely detest the digital timers. I still have two Minute minders and use them frequently. I hope they last a long, long time as I don’t trust anything else! I live half the year in Brittany and half in Manhattan so two Minute minders are indispensable! Love your blog!

  • July 13, 2012 4:25pm

    I found a timer that rings so loudly the neighborhood can hear it. Never has failed so it’s definitely my friend.

    The cookies in the photo look pretty good and I’m glad to know I’m within the average cookie dough eating percentage.

  • Cat
    July 13, 2012 4:28pm

    I have had my minute minder for over 25 years and one day it broke after dropping it and I never knew they were still making them, albeit not up to the usual standards of my vintage one. I now use my microwave timer but I have not heard it at times when listening to music or watching tv; but my trusty dog does and he comes running to hope whatever I am taking out of the oven will be offered to him once it cools LOL!

  • Terry
    July 13, 2012 4:28pm

    Maybe eBay or the Marche aux Puces has a vintage one. There has to be a replacement out there somewhere.

  • Joanna Ryan
    July 13, 2012 4:28pm

    Your Silpats are so clean looking!

  • Leslie
    July 13, 2012 4:30pm

    That was the timer of my childhood!

    I think you are having trouble accepting change, not resisting it (sorry, a bit anal here about writing) – love your blog and your recipes.

  • Allen
    July 13, 2012 4:32pm

    There is an old saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. New fangled tecnology is not necessarily better.

  • Jan Robertson
    July 13, 2012 4:40pm

    I found this link to the origional Luv Minute Minder available fron ACE Hardware…

  • WanderChow
    July 13, 2012 4:47pm

    I second researching the laboratory timer. That thing annoys the crap out of you if you don’t come and turn it off. Loved those things! Almost makes me miss working in a lab.

  • July 13, 2012 4:48pm

    “Ate the required 10-25 percent of the dough.” Too funny. I’ve never used a kitchen timer — I just watch the oven clock.

  • July 13, 2012 4:48pm

    My favorite is the Polder timer on a string. I can wear it around my neck so if I get distracted and decide to go look for something in the garage while baking it will bring me back to reality. Also you put the time in like entering numbers in a calculator 1-0-0-0 instead of counting up from 0 to 10:00

  • Peter
    July 13, 2012 4:49pm

    Have all those new fangled timers including iPhone but the yellowed Minute Minder is still the go-to timer.

  • Chantel
    July 13, 2012 4:49pm

    Hi David ~ I enjoy your rantings on anything and everything!

    I will be coming to Paris in September …. Want me to bring you anything from California? ……..and NO …. I am not looking for a tour guide or someone to take us out to dinner. Just trying to do something nice for someone who makes me smile every morning as I read his blog.

  • July 13, 2012 4:53pm

    I know just how you feel, and my Lux timers have always been in my kitchen.

    Have you tried contacting Lux Customer support — TechSupport (at) ?

    But next time, get the quartz model. I inherited my mother’s ten years ago, and she had it for several decades, and it still performs flawlessly, though I now use the timer on my stove because it will only stop ringing if you press the “off” button.

    If I was able to learn how to use mine, I’m sure you can learn to use yours!

  • July 13, 2012 4:56pm

    It seems that every time someone visits me in France from the US I’m begging them to get me a cheapie timer from a local dollar store because the prices here are frightful and the timers seem to fail on me with regularity. (I mean, it’s not like I’m throwing them across the room or anything!)

    My sister sent me a white version of your red KitchenAid timer which I like but it is a bit time consuming to set for long periods.

    Then my dad raised the bar. He brought a little Oxo black and steel timer (yes, it’s electronic but it’s oh, so easy) that has not one but three timers on it which has been wonderful. And because it goes up to 99 hours, 99 minutes, 99 seconds, it’s a whiz to set because it’s got a keyboard like a phone so you just punch in the digits for the time instead of having to repeatedly press “hour” or “minute.” And it has a feature that you can set to reinstate the previous time if you do stuff like have a boiled egg for breakfast, which I do. And it had to be incredibly cheap because my dad’s a dollar store fan and is the opposite pole to extravagant by any means.

  • July 13, 2012 5:02pm

    I can relate to your frustrations with today’s timers. My sweet aunt bought me a fancy one after she can to stay & heard me grumble that I kept forgetting to buy one. She was so kind to buy me one that has 4 timers that can be used simultaneously. It’s so lovely & sleek – but I can’t figure out how to set the damn thing. My techy husband has even tried. I stick to my iPhone – even use it while I’m teaching cooking classes. Glad to know I’m not alone. :)

  • Mark Guncheon
    July 13, 2012 5:04pm

    I love my new oven which beeps once as a warning 60 seconds before the timer sounds.

  • July 13, 2012 5:06pm

    I’ve become a big fan of the website timer that comes up when you google “free timer,” whatever it’s called. The numbers are BIG, the buzzer is loud, and I like being able to see the countdown. If I need multiple timers running at once I set up alarms in my Blackberry. I do still use my old-fashioned kitchen timers though. Of all the ones I’ve ever bought, the one that’s lasted longest and been the most accurate is a cheapo bell pepper-shaped plastic one I paid about $3 for. I’ve dropped it many times and the top goes flying off when that happens, but it still works fine.

  • Cynthia
    July 13, 2012 5:07pm

    Looks like there are a few vintage minute minders available on ebay. Good Luck!

  • July 13, 2012 5:12pm

    I would be surprised if you didn’t get at least a dozen of these in the mail in the next few weeks.


  • Lawrence Osborn
    July 13, 2012 5:21pm

    David, I have used electronic timers since they first hit the market, sometime in the early 80’s. They are totally accurate and also set seconds if you need to. For breakfast eggs I use 4 min and 30 sec, just the right amount of liquid yolk & set whites.

    I bake constantly and leave the kitchen so I need a loud beep for a minute. Annoying yes but necessary to bring me back to reality that there is something in the oven. Accurite from (gad) Walmart is a good one, except if it falls over it turns off. I epoxyed a small base to prevent the dreaded fall over. I have 3 in case they stop making this one. Uses 1 AAA battery & lasts for a very long time.

    • July 15, 2012 1:17pm
      David Lebovitz

      I do the same thing, too. If I find something I like, I buy several because they will invariably stop making them at some point. (Or, as in the case of my timer, they will change the manufacturing.)

      I like timers that turn off once they ring, because I’m usually within earshot and will come to check whatever is in the oven. For me, it’s stressful to have a constant beeping. But I guess that’s why there are so many timers out there – there’s one for everyone!
      (Well, except for seems.)

  • July 13, 2012 5:24pm

    I haven’t tried them, but Cool Tools recommends, of all things, the Ikea kitchen timer:

    Perhaps worth a shot, especially at $2 a pop.

  • Susan
    July 13, 2012 5:30pm

    I don’t see how timers work at all. Minutes tick by so fast when you have a deadline to meet, but so slowly when you’re watching cookies bake. How could a timer possibly be consistant?

  • Heide
    July 13, 2012 5:32pm

    No matter what you write about I take great pleasure in reading your posts.
    I look forward to them and am very appreciative you take the time to write them.

  • Gay
    July 13, 2012 6:04pm

    David! Not to worry! There are oodles of Minute Minders on eBay! I am the proud owner of one that is getting close to 50 years old! Your blog probably made the bids on eBay go higher!

  • Carrie Dore
    July 13, 2012 6:06pm

    I use a Pampered Chef kitchen timer. It is digital but very easy to use. It has a magnet on the back to stick to the fridge or stove and a clip to hook onto a collar or pocket. After it beeps (which it will beep till you stop) it resets to to the time you just had. So batches of my Ginger Cookies go 7min 45 sec without having to fumble about. I can’t seem to stop myself from picking up timers from estate and rummage sales and have 3 ready and waiting on the fridge

  • Barb
    July 13, 2012 6:15pm

    Hard to concentrate on the timer when those cookies look so good!! Where can we get the recioe? ? ?

  • Constance
    July 13, 2012 6:16pm

    I have a newer minute minder. I have to turn my up to the sixty minute mark then back to whatever time I want the timer to run for. I wish mine had a pleasant ding I always jump when it goes off.

  • July 13, 2012 6:25pm

    I have an old minute minder that still rings nicely. But I have to admit, I use my iphone for all my timing needs these days.

  • Bebe
    July 13, 2012 6:48pm

    David, we are neck-deep in timer angst in our household this week. Our trusty one-event WestBend timer stopped ringing. Still keeps time but silently. Useless.

    The wonderful old WestBend three event timer, that I used to love, is no longer being made the same way and the reviews for the new one are almost unanimously thumbs down.

    I have searched the kitchen stores and found nothing, zero, nada, that does a nice ring loud enough to be heard and long enough to get one’s attention if they have stepped away a bit.

    We are in big trouble here because we use the timer a lot – me for oven broiling and baking; my DH for barbecuing. Had everything pretty well nailed. And now…….sob….


  • Laurie
    July 13, 2012 6:49pm

    I use the rubber scraper (or as my dear Home Economics teacher called it “The Child Cheater”) to get every last bit of dough into a cookie.
    My brothers used to get very annoyed at me for that, but then quickly got over it as the cookies came out of the oven and they gobbled those as quickly as I could get them off the tray.
    I just don’t get why anyone would eat so much cookie dough???

  • July 13, 2012 7:01pm

    The only fault the Minute Minder had is that it melts. It was my favorite until it took on a deformed shape.
    The tick and ring of the minute minter is somehow comforting. Yup, I’ll bet you get a boat load of these soon!

  • Laura
    July 13, 2012 7:13pm

    I trust my handy “Polder” timer to count the minutes and seconds. Bought it at Target 13 years ago and have changed the battery only twice. A little round timer that can sit on the counter, and also has a magnet on the back so you can attach it to the stove. It has never failed me while brewing tea of baking a cake.

  • July 13, 2012 7:13pm

    Try turning your timer past 30 minutes.and my minute minder chicken requires that.Diane in S.F.

  • July 13, 2012 7:16pm

    I’ve got kitchen timers all over my house. But that’s the one thing I’ve found my IPhone’s Siri useful for. Hold down the button and say “set timer for 9 minutes”. BOOM. done.

  • Patricia
    July 13, 2012 7:32pm

    At Amazon…….Lux CP2428-59 Mechanical Classic Timer, White ….this is the out of fashion, turn the knob, non digital sort of timer. Plus, if white is no longer the color of choice for your new digs, they come in a variety of shades.

  • July 13, 2012 7:33pm

    I had precisely the same experience with not one, but THREE of ’em. The first Minute Minder had long and honorable service, and finally wore out, plus it looked really scroungy. But both MM replacements failed literally from Day One. So aggravating. I bought a Polder electronic timer (the most basic I could find), and it works fabulously well – plus it can be set to time up to 19 hours, should you need to do it. Extremely simple to use, and to read, too. Next time you’re in the states, hit a Bed Bath & Beyond, & pick one up – or order one on Amazon. For eight bucks and change, you can’t go wrong.

  • Bebe
    July 13, 2012 7:34pm

    Well, hello Russ Parsons!

    I am one of the many who used to email you when you were Food Editor for the Los Angeles Times. Back in the days when it had a real Food Section. I miss that. And your intelligent writing.

  • Bebe
    July 13, 2012 7:39pm

    Be warned that the Lux timer offered now at Amazon and elsewhere is not the original Robertshaw Lux Timer that so many relied upon for decades. It is a Chinese replication that is getting horrible reviews at Amazon.

    • July 13, 2012 8:44pm
      David Lebovitz

      That’s interesting – I bought mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond (I think..) and it did say Made in China. I wonder if somehow the name got sold?

  • Denise
    July 13, 2012 7:56pm

    I inherited an old Minute Minder in my classroom at school from a retiring teacher. I didn’t realize at the time what a gem I had. Now that I know they are no longer the reliable tool you use to be able to find in most kitchens in the 50’s and 60’s, I will have to treasure the one I have. They come in some great colors these days but sadly not the same quality.

  • Pamela Walker
    July 13, 2012 8:37pm

    Well, I won’t buy a Minute Minder, thank you David, when my ten-year old 99-cent timer breaks down. The stand broke off when I dropped it, but it works perfectly when I’ve timed it against my cell phone. It has to lie down now, but then so do I.
    I got it at the 99 Cent store in LA, where everyone shops. The REAL one, where everything’s purple.

  • glendy
    July 13, 2012 8:45pm

    Shows to go that not all old things are bad things. My USUALLY technophile husband bought himself a manual timer (which has no brand name–I just looked–and I’m in Canada anyway so who knows if you could get it). I laughed at him. I pointed to the stove timer. I pointed to the microwave timer. I pointed to his smart phone. And then the knob broke of the stove timer and couldn’t be reattached, the microwave timer stopped working, and (you know how these things go in threes?) then the smart phone started getting way too sticky…and now I time everything with that little no-name ole-fashioned-style timer!

    P.S. Zellers Canada was bought out by Target, so either I won’t be able to get my handy manual timer again (should I ever need to), or Americans will now be able to.

  • July 13, 2012 9:48pm

    My husband hates the tick-tick-tick of wind-up timers like the Minute Minder, so I used to hide it in a cupboard whenever I used it! (I could still hear the ring, just not the ticking!) It stopped working after a while, so now I rely on oven timers (analog, not digital). Even though our oven is old, the timer consistently buzzes when the time’s up. When my husband’s not around, I’ll sometimes use my cupcake-shaped wind-up timer for fun, but it’s really not very reliable. Sometimes it rings, sometimes it doesn’t. If my oven timer stopped working, I’d use my smartphone for sure.

  • Sharonpatricia
    July 13, 2012 9:48pm

    I have always turned my MM past 30 not 15. Don’t know how I got that idea (Mom?) but that’s what I have been doing for 40 years. Wouldn’t it be easy if it was that simple? Good luck!

  • Eleni in Athens
    July 13, 2012 9:55pm

    I’m a mechanical timer fan too, and my 52 year old Minute Minder died 2 years ago.

    I bought 4 new mechanical timers and mistakenly discarded each one before discovering the trick to using them.

    TRICK: With new mechanical timers you must wind up the mechanism [like winding a clock] by FIRST turning the dial all the way to 60 minutes ( or whatever the max is) and then – SECOND – carefully wind back to the time you want. Then they work.

    However, all is not lost! In despair – number 5 – I bought a cheapo IKEA mechanical timer (4€?) and it works the old way!!!!
    You want 10 minutes? Wind it to 10 minutes….it works perfectly!

    It is quite chic looking too, a little brushed steel cylinder.

  • July 13, 2012 10:05pm

    I was having a challenging time finding a timer that worked for me until I figured out that I could use Siri to set the iPhone timer, which is perfect when my hands are full of batter or butter or grease. You can just say ‘remind me in 10 minutes’ and off you go!

  • Marilee
    July 13, 2012 10:05pm

    My microwave oven has a built-in timer so I use that. However, since my microwave is over 5 years old (at least), I wonder if that feature is no longer included on microwaves.

    I firmly believe that “new and improved” is a pox on humanity. It may be “new”, but not necessarily “improved”. Those buzzards.

  • Marilee
    July 13, 2012 10:18pm

    P.S. For those looking for the old style, I see quite a few vintage Minute Minders listed on eBay. If you’re interested, please make sure you choose a vendor with a high positive feedback rating.

  • Sara
    July 13, 2012 10:25pm

    The one thing my brother and I will really have a rock-paper-scissors competition for in my parents’ kitchen is a vintage WWII dark room timer, which still is the absolutely ideal timer for baking, etc. Can’t get any better.

  • Anne de Montréal
    July 13, 2012 10:35pm

    A few years back, a good friend from France sent me a mechanical timer in the shape of a strawberry. You have to wind it to 60 minutes and then set the timer to your desired time. The ringing is 6 second long, and to amplify it I put the strawberry in a small metal pot: it works like a charm!

    (And thank you for your blog!)

  • Felicity O'Brien
    July 13, 2012 10:44pm

    Can you please tell me what you are using to ‘scoop’ the mixture onto the tray. Is it a tool for biscuit mixture or an ice cream scoop. I usually end up with choc chip biscuits of all different shapes. Yours look so uniform

  • Debboe
    July 13, 2012 10:50pm

    I love the timer app for my smartphone. I can set up to 3 different ones and believe me, you hear them when they go off.

    Did I miss the winner of the ice cream maker? I don’t recall seeing a winner named.

  • Bonnie Powers
    July 13, 2012 11:01pm

    There’s a “Salter” mechanical timer that I use which can be found at the following link:
    I’ve used mine for years. It can even be heard over my loud exhaust fan! One has the choice of a short” ring or “long” ring, and it’s not very expensive. Since you live in the Eurozone it’ll be easy to buy since it’s from the UK.
    I’ve tried using the iPhone timer but my screen gets too dirty in the kitchen environment.
    Good luck on your search—try the Salter from the UK.

  • Bebe
    July 13, 2012 11:03pm

    David, it appears that the company has changed hands. The classic that everyone is missing was the Robertshaw Lux Minute Minder and it had Robertshaw on the left side of the front of the timer.

    More information than you probably will ever need is here:

    As for its being made in China, isn’t almost everything these days?

    On rewinding before setting, the only information I ever had on that was to rewind if you were setting the timer for a period of less than 15 minutes. Somehow it didn’t “engage” if you just turned to the number. ????

  • July 13, 2012 11:03pm

    I had that problem. Here’s what I learned: You have to turn the knob all the way to the end, and then back to the number of minutes you want. Then, and only then, will it go “ding”.

  • July 14, 2012 12:55am

    “ate the required 10-25% of the dough before I scooped them out”

    LOL, you have more self control than I do.

    By the way, I have used this quite often:

  • Martha in KS
    July 14, 2012 12:57am

    How about reading the instructions for your oven timer (I know – genetically you CAN’T READ INSTRUCTIONS)? If you give us the brand, maybe we, your loyal fans can figure out how to use it. Then you won’t have to deal with cheap imported timers. If you email me – I’ll give it a try. Afterall, I’m the one who used to set everyone’s VCRs because I CAN read instructions (the old XX chromosome) :-)

  • Poornima
    July 14, 2012 3:39am

    I have a Liefheit round white one looks like the one in your picture doing very well after many years. It rings each time I set it. Faithfully.

  • Poornima
    July 14, 2012 3:41am

    And like the others mentioned its mechanical. And you have to wind it fully before setting the time. Sorry about posting again!

  • Alisan
    July 14, 2012 4:29am

    Best timer ever – my daughter has just graduated in Photography, and and has willed me a GraLab darkroom timer. They have a variable loudness, and are spot on for down-to-the second timing! I suggest this for any cook who needs to know EXACTLY when something is done!

  • Cee
    July 14, 2012 5:02am

    I have an old metal Minute Minder and it works like a charm. Bought it from a vintage store a couple years ago and I hope it never dies on me! It’s a dream. Check out and I’m sure you can find one as well.

  • July 14, 2012 6:13am

    I’ve melted two of those plastic timers getting them to close to something cooking on the stove. It took a while but I finally figured out the timer on my stove. Let’s hope it keeps working as my appliances seem to be dying one by one.

  • Tina
    July 14, 2012 6:40am

    David, while I love each and every one of your posts, this one actually moved me so much that I had to comment.

    I have owned (and melted) more than one Minute Minder. When I moved into my new place earlier this year, I learned my microwave didn’t have a timer (my back-up) and I still haven’t figured out the timer on my oven. I did start using the timer on my iPhone, which I sort of like because I could set the timer tone to bark and it didn’t stop until I turned it off.

    But I need more than one timer so I set off to find a normal, non-barking timer. Expecting Target to meet my expectations – sadly, no Minute Minder. I finally ended up with a digital timer from Williams Sonoma that is merely OK. I like that it has a magnet on the back so I can stick it on the microwave and it doesn’t take up space (not that a timer takes up space, I guess its more about counter clutter), but it sure does require a lot more thought to operate.

    Before anyone accuses me of being lazy…lets just say that at some point, simple is good. There are so many things in the course of our day that require massive thinking (work comes to mind here), that when we come home, it is so nice to have that one thing that we can operate with no thought at all. And it will reward us with doing its work well. RIP Good Minute Minder.

    Lovely post, David.

    p.s. My 79 year old mother, unlike me, has never melted a timer and I’m pretty sure her Minute Minder was acquired when she was married. I must remember to steal it the next time I visit her. :P

  • Barbara Martin
    July 14, 2012 8:19am

    probably not my first time but I can’t remember. sometimes I post in my mind but not by submitting. You always have me wanting to cheer you on when you have these inconveniences since I have them as well. I live in Phoenix not too far from the retirement community of Sun City, Az. where there is a little thrift store that is a favorite of many elderly who live in the area. If I am in the area for some reason I drop in to look for old cooking tools. One day I found an old Minute Minder timer like the one with the knob in the center made out of white plastic. I was so excited to have it. My stove has a timer, my microwave has a timer but I delight in having the old one there on the stove too because I can take it and go out into the backyard and read while I bake and still get my alert. Burning cookies will call you to attention though. I hate the idea that any cookie dough was wasted. Those cookies look yummy! Cheers.

  • karin
    July 14, 2012 12:37pm

    hi david,
    i am wondering if you are familiar with les rocailles -large meringues , speciality in carpentras, provence…they are huge meringues with hazelnuts and walnuts crispy on the outside, very soft and gooey on the inside. they come in coffee, chocolate and vanilla. they are incryoable..would you happen to have a recipe ??
    thanks so much

  • July 14, 2012 1:03pm
    David Lebovitz

    Russ/Hadley: Siri doesn’t seem to like me (or perhaps my French accent!) But what I don’t like is that to turn it off, when the timer is done, you have to touch it – which means quickly washing off my hands, which are usually covered with butter, flour, etc..

    karin: Most bakeries in France make large meringues, to use up the leftover egg whites. Ask at the bakery how they do them; most bakeries will at least give you the technique they use.

    Bebe: That’s interesting because mine does not say Robertshaw on the face, or anywhere else.The bottom has a sticker that says Made in Chine, and gives the company name as “Lux Products Corporation” in Texas. It would be great if they resurrected the classic timer, because it really is..or was, pretty great. And I would buy a bunch of them!

    Debboe: The winners were announced, and contacted. That information was added to the ice cream maker give-away page.

    Debbie: I bought a Polder digital thermometer a few years ago, with a probe, and immediately blew out the thermometer. When I called, they said the probe can’t touch the bottom of the pot (which I don’t believe the instructions said at the time, or I could be wrong, or they may have added that later for others..) but they weren’t too keen on replacing it. So I moved on.

    Eleni and Sandy: I’m going to try that*. It used to be past 15 minutes, but will try 60. It’d be nice is that was true – and they printed that information on the packaging. Thanks!

    *UPDATE: I tried that, and it didn’t work with mine : (

  • July 14, 2012 1:05pm

    This rings close to home: I fell victim to the cuteness of Kikkerland’s blue owl timer ( whereby the apple pie turned to burned applesauce.

    I’m definitely one who likes stylish instruments, so I’m liable to buy something by face alone. This is not the only time I’ve been burned. I’m really surprised to hear, however, that the long-standing sturdiness of Minute Minder is no more. Perhaps there’s been a steep drop in sales as iPhones have taken over their job, and the company consequently cut costs of production with a cheaper watchmaker.

  • erica
    July 14, 2012 3:28pm

    What a timely (hehe) post- my timer is on its way out too! Had to use backup baking my last batch of cookies. And I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who consumes about 25% of the dough before cooking! Sometimes I tempted not to add the egg and make it solely as cookie dough for eating!

  • Ann
    July 14, 2012 5:29pm

    I completely understand….I have 4 timers in my kitchen and I love them all. However, the iPhone timer is easy to use. The downside? I’m a bit of a messy cook and my iPhone doesn’t like it.

    Best of luck and I’d love to see what worked for you in Part 2!

  • July 14, 2012 6:21pm

    David – I did some research when I needed a kitchen timer, and ended up putting this timer on my wish list. My brother gave it to me a few years ago for Christmas. It’s been so helpful for all my cooking and baking ever since! It’s fairly inexpensive and does a GREAT job. It’s very easy to use too. Check it out! – Polder Clock/Timer/Stopwatch

  • Craigkite
    July 14, 2012 8:08pm

    We have a timer hanging on the wall in our kitchen made by First Alert. It is a pretty intuitive timer. We do not set it, but it gives off a real loud squeal when the baked goods are done beyond recognition. I think the model is called “Smoke Detector.”

  • shari
    July 14, 2012 8:13pm

    David, I really do hate to be cynical, but your timer is probably made in China. I’ve had the same problem with timers. None of them work! I had to replace my old oven/stove a couple of years ago and purchased an electric (although I would love a gas stove, which, alas, is not possible in my neighborhood unless I win the lottery) Electrolux flat top with large and small oven which I love. I did have a couple of anxiety attacks when trying to figure out the timer, (the trick is to set the time and then press the timer button, -i kept setting the time, and then would forget to press the button. Arrrgh.) Anyway, it is possible to teach old dogs new tricks, even when we just want to dig in our heels, and hang onto the old ways.

  • Wordbird
    July 14, 2012 8:20pm

    Next time you’re in Lausanne, pop into the local Migros supermarket (they’re all over Switzerland) and pick up a jolly little timer. They have a fine line of kitchenalia, from seasonal cookie cutters of all sorts, to seasonal timers. I’ve bought several as Xmas gifts for friends and they seem to go down well. Though perhaps a Snowman or Santa might not be so appealing in May, or be chic enough for a Parisian kitchen. :) I recall they also had plain ones though, and all very definitely of the twist/clockwork type.

  • Malika Henderson
    July 14, 2012 8:45pm

    I use my iPhone in the kitchen. The secret is to keep it in a sandwich-size ziploc bag. You can still work it (touch the screen, set the timer, turn it off, whatever) through the plastic, you can still hear it through the plastic, and it won’t get dirty. Also, totally waterproof!

  • July 14, 2012 11:09pm

    Boy, am I with you. We have a timer on the microwave, which works – thank you, thank you – and the round white timer in your picture. I rely heavily on both, but my first choice is usually the white timer. It’s just easy. Technology is great, but I’m a slow convert.

  • July 14, 2012 11:42pm

    great post – you can write about ANYTHING you like David; it’s always interesting, often funny, often mouthwatering, but never dull….
    have two timers, one to turn the face so old, I have no clue where I got it from and a digital one – both work beautifully and I often forget that both have given me notice…. today (honest to God) we didn’t have our 3’40” boiled organic eggs but probably 4’10” ones because I quietly ignored my two timers…. gave me the laughs to read about this tonight!

  • July 14, 2012 11:54pm

    João Víctor; just spent some ‘quality time’ amusing myself with your idea of on-line timers…. some great stuff there! Thanks – that was really helpful… now I shall wash my hands before baking, cooking, whatever – and put my computer on, to be able to use a stopwatch or a timer :)

  • Eileen
    July 15, 2012 1:28am

    I had one of your timers for a long, long time. I got it at a dollar store, but did not know it was called a minute minder. I dropped it one too many times and it finally died. I purchased a retro attractive timer at Anthropologie but it runs fast. I then bought the kitchen aid timer you have pictured above and it sat in the package for about 4 months. I just started using it a few days ago and I really like it! Its very easy to set and quiet. It makes a sort of annoying beep sound that makes me want to come in to the kitchen to turn it off when the time is up. Just what I need. I baked a pie this morning and it beep beeped, but I know the pie needed more time. It beeped for one minute. That is my only gripe; I would like it to keep sounding until I come and turn it off.

  • 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!