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November 14, 2012 12:49 PM   Subscribe

The Hater's Guide to the Williams Sonoma Catalog
posted by backseatpilot (90 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
As pointed out in the comments, you can order the fruitcakes directly from Assumption Abbey for $31, including shipping. Which, 1, fuck you WS for turning a profit on a non-commercial enterprise. And 2, makes me think about getting one because they look awesome.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:54 PM on November 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


$2.60/croissant also isn't actually bad, if they are any good. But they wouldn't be fresh-baked, so I'd probably only resort to this if there wasn't a decent bakery nearby.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:56 PM on November 14, 2012


I will confess that the 'Dude and I get the same perverse pleasure out of our monthly Williams-Sonoma Catalogue. The Halloween issue was more than laughable - something like $20 for 3 personalizeable sugar cookies.

(That being said, I do actually shop at Williams-Sonoma, or more rightly when we ask my mother for nice kitchen-ware, they will invariably come from Williams-Sonoma.)
posted by muddgirl at 12:57 PM on November 14, 2012


I went in Williams-Sonoma the other day looking to buy a sifter and they didn't have any, and what is a pretentious kitchen store for if they don't have a fucking sifter.

Ugh.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:06 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Item #02-787713 Williams-Sonoma Cocktail Rimming Sugar

lol rimming sugar
posted by nathancaswell at 1:10 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ina Garten's ADORABLE HUSBAND JEFFREY WHO MAKES A LOT OF MONEY loves the sight of a fine white-trash-monk fruitcake any time he comes home

Oh hell, there is a lot of obnoxious stuff on Food Network--Guy Fieri and Sandra Lee, I'm looking in your general direction--but the smug, effete, delicately-restrained WASPiness (is there irony there?) of the Barefoot fucking Contessa takes the lemon chiffon.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:10 PM on November 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh do NOT get me started on these people.

Okay, yeah, I can get a little covetous when I go in there, and there is a part of me that still likes to ooh and ahh over the pretty bakeware, but all these fucking kits they have? The "cake decorating kit", the "brownie mix" from Baked, the fancypants stuff? Pssssh.

And then they went and started a whole "artisinal/DIY foods" section which everyone I know has been telling me about because "hey they have canning stuff and you can stuff" but the canning stuff that they have are things like hammered-copper french jam pans for $185 and seriously HELL naw.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


"The Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog" - quite possibly the most Gawkery headline in the history of Gawkery Gawker headlines. Gawk. It needs to be taken out back and thrashed.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:12 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Item #02-1514454 Breville programmable espresso maker with integrated burr grinder.

I own this machine, and owe my continued existence to it. (purchased for far less during a Macy's sale).
posted by obscurator at 1:12 PM on November 14, 2012


Holy sh!t, I nearly wet my pants on that line about the Persian oil barons. I'm not sure what I did to deserve seeing this AND the McSweeney's about decorative gourd season in one day, but whatever it is, Imma keep doing it.
posted by SinAesthetic at 1:12 PM on November 14, 2012


Snark, it's what's for dinner.
posted by tommasz at 1:12 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I want to try the world's best biscuit cause biscuits are fucking delicious.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:13 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, my mother in law has a walk in chicken coop that probably didn't cost her $600 and could stop by Assumption Abby when she's picking up heritage seeds and rare breed chickens in Mansfield. Gaze upon my flyover state and despair Williams Sonoma!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:13 PM on November 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


My WASPy in-laws do the Christmas crackers thing, and it took me years to figure out that my wife wasn't talking about special crackers you eat. She'd say things like "you know, Christmas crackers, they've got gunpowder inside and they go pop and there's prizes and paper crowns?" and I thought they were fucking INSANE eating food with gunpowder in it.

It turn out they just like pretending to be British.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:14 PM on November 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


Needs more handmade Brooklyn artisan siracha.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:14 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Needs more handmade Brooklyn artisan siracha.

Give it time - they will start selling a kit enabling you to make your own Brooklyn artisan sriracha.

....I bet you think I'm kidding.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:17 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Back when I was in high school, I bussed tables and served desserts and tried to make myself useful at a not-quite-fine-dining-but-pretty-damn-good restaurant. Both chefs (a married couple; he was the head chef and she was the pastry/dessert chef) were CIA grads and all three sous-chefs were students there. The New York Times had reviewed us favorably. This was the only restaurant of this caliber in that town.

A Williams-Sonoma opened just down the street from our little restaurant. Our head chef went in to buy something mundane like a cookie sheet. The staff at the W-S store were awful to him, patronizing and rude. He came back to work (emptyhanded) half bemused and half really pissed off. I decided right then that if they couldn't treat an actual, professional chef with basic courtesy then they didn't deserve any of the money I earned at that chef's business.

And they still haven't seen any of my money. Poseurs.
posted by workerant at 1:20 PM on November 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


No, that sounds like it's right up their target demographic's alley.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:20 PM on November 14, 2012


I believe I've read that Gwyneth Paltrow has written on her blog, GOOP (the one that reeks of privilege and condescension and a sublime unawareness of either), that she likes to find "off-beat kitchen accessories" at Williams-Sonoma. Enough said.
posted by orange swan at 1:20 PM on November 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


HEY DID YOU GUYS HEAR ABOUT THE GUY FIERI RESTAURANT REVIEW IN THE NEW YOURK TIMES TODAY!?!?!
posted by slogger at 1:21 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Rich people have entire food closets lined with whammies and biscuits and emergency rimming sugar GOD I HATE RICH PEOPLE SO MUCH."

I was waiting for this breakdown from the first sentence.
posted by batmonkey at 1:21 PM on November 14, 2012


I actually went to Williams Sonoma for the first time ever on Monday and, wow, does this article ever nail it.

That said, Christmas crackers are a tradition in our family, but I can't imagine paying $30 for a set of 12. You go to Zellers (or Target/Walmart, I guess, since Zellers is dead) and pay, like, $5 for a set. They've got a shitty paper crown and a crappy "toy" the breaks almost immediately. If you're paying more than $1 per cracker, you're getting massively ripped off.
posted by asnider at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


And seriously, $160 for a painted chicken? I'm no primitive art expert but that seems a bit steep even if it's on an artisan chicken coop.
posted by tommasz at 1:23 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


W/S was awesome in about the 1978 to 1983 timeframe, back when they had a big wall of French and German baking pans, and jars of gooseberries from Hungary. They jumped the artisanal caramel sauce shark a long time ago. I'm lucky to live in a metro with 2-3 other competing kitchen stores with actual, like, a good selection of pans and utensils you can buy to cook things with, and not so much of the gourmet popcorn kits.

They still have a wall of fiddly utensils, you can get sturdy (if expensive) pots and pans there, they have proper knives. They still have those heavy "Picardie" drinking glasses that are glass but practically unbreakable--I've had mine for decades. But the froo-froo crumpet mixes and things are just shelves full of sadness.
posted by gimonca at 1:29 PM on November 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I will say one thing in their defense - I'm reading a book on the late 20th-century explosion of American gastronomy and cuisine, and apparently Williams-Sonoma had a major and positive role to play in helping the average home cook get their hands on stuff, and get interested in cooking.

Mind you, this was in the late 60's/early 70's when the only other options were Revereware at Macy's or a hardware store. And they weren't selling no $72 biscuits then either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:31 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


And biscuits are 1. dead easy to make at home, and 2. only really great when they're hot out of the oven. What kind of pretentious airhead would have biscuits shipped UPS from South Carolina?
posted by gimonca at 1:32 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


This actually needs to be a tumblr blog. I'd like to read more of these because I both hate Williams-Sonoma and covet things they sell.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:40 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Twelve Days of Christmas Crackers

I guess this is just overpriced? Ime, there's nothing to keep an over-excited ADHD kid in her or his seat during the Christmas meal like the promise of a loud bang, a cheap paper hat, a bad pun (or play on words) and a shiny trinket. Getting the stuffier folks to wear a magenta crown is just icing on that festive cake.
posted by bonehead at 1:47 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know what I bought that made this happen , but somehow I keep getting sent crazy aspirational catalogues. The ones that suggest I pay £65 for a plain T-shirt are bad enough (and the Anthro catalogue - not only is it massively marked up in the UK, but none of it is designed for adult bra sizes) but I keep getting two homeware catalogues - one from a WS-type store that suggests I pay £15 for a glass belljar to keep butcher's twine in, and another from a 'quirky' 'vintage' store that appears to cater to people frightened of charity shops.
posted by mippy at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


He had me at "Do they make artisanal meth?"
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh - every year here there;s an article about the most expensive Christmas cracker. I think Harrods do ones that are £500 each and contain engraved Mont Blanc pens or something.
posted by mippy at 1:51 PM on November 14, 2012


This actually needs to be a tumblr blog.

A tumblr blog about the Williams Sonoma catalog is my threshold for "giving up"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:53 PM on November 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of my favorite former activities was going into a WS and asking them questions that they absolutely didn't know the answers to.

I had just gotten my hands on a copy of McGee's tome On Food And Cooking and read it cover-to-cover. I was pretty insufferable.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:01 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Even better than Williams Sonoma is their spinoff Agrarian -- which features such things as multicolored jute twine and a kombucha kit.

Their gardening tools are not horribly overpriced (not that I know the proper price of a hand fork), but I just want to yell, "All of these things are going in the dirt. IN THE DIRT."
posted by Jeanne at 2:04 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Obligatory Achewood
posted by The Prawn Reproach at 2:14 PM on November 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


That first comment is priceless:
Everyone go to your nearest Williams-Sonoma store and grab every catalog (do they call it a catalogue?) they have. Carry at least one around at all times, so the next time any person starts talking about repealing Obamacare and how the government has no place telling rich people how to spend their money, just hand them one of these.
A-fuckin-men.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:18 PM on November 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


Came to link kombucha kit. Beat to (probiotic) punch.
posted by CheeseLouise at 2:19 PM on November 14, 2012


I still think that chicken coop is an awesome looking chicken coop.
posted by lydhre at 2:21 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


My wife and I will occasionally wander into one of the WS locations in our fair metro. We like to joke, "Those who can, cook. Those who can't, shop at Williams Sonoma!"
posted by BigLankyBastard at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm reading a book on the late 20th-century explosion of American gastronomy and cuisine

Title, please?

Don't forget, folks, there's always Lehman's. You don't have to hate them for anything.

It bothers me a lot when I see my everyday tools fetishized and turned into weapons of class resentment. And I confess that I'm a little threatened by it, those fancy canning jar tag embossers and the $300 hammered copper jam pot. Part of the point of DIY is making do and adapting -- or inheriting well-used tools from a relative -- and doing projects like canning or raising chickens or grinding wheat berries because it's cool as hell, and it's messy and it's an amazing way to preserve old traditions. But not as a way to intimidate others with what you have, or with your taste, or your ability to afford (and the time to play with) your new European pickling crock.

The W-S agrarian catalog reminds me of Alice Walker's short story, "Everyday Use." Are the handmade quilts works of art, to be hung on the wall and venerated? Or are they gifts of a family's hands, meant to be used? As for me, I hope and intend that my tools (banged up, duct taped, with all of their faults and honest patinas) go to my kids for *their* use, in memory of family projects.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:39 PM on November 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


Wanders into WS, leans on counter, with a hoarse whisper "that copper fruit de-rinder, could a man, a motivated man, do some pretty weird butt stuff with that?... No, no, don't tell me yet." Touches clerks lips gently, like a butterfly alighting on a milk-thistle. "There, your soul just told me. I'll take two, do you accept Diner's Club?"
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:47 PM on November 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


The WS store along the wine trail in Napa Valley is awesome because it's one of the only places you can stop and use the bathroom without being glared at for not paying the $15 tasting fee, plus they often have cheese samples. Don't think I've ever spent a nickel there, though.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:48 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tired of having my heart broken by $50 Costco toasters, I walked into Williams-Sonoma where I was waited on by two smart, patient, and very lovely saleswomen. They helped me choose a four-slice Breville toaster that cost about $200. My young idealistic self rolls his eyes at what I've become with my $200 toaster, but I do enjoy excellent toast each morning.

Now this is the toaster with the "A Bit More" button. If your toast is almost perfect, but needs just a bit more toasting, you press the "A Bit More" button, back down it goes for a bit more, and the result is perfection. All household appliances should come with an "A Bit More" button, because sometimes we need just a bit more.

Toaster valentine by Roz Chast.
posted by squalor at 3:13 PM on November 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


I like how this just descends into crazed "GIMME THAT CHOCOLATE I HATE YOU RICH PEOPLE." Because if you spend any time in Williams Sonoma, you go through the phase where you admire the nice cookware and bakeware, then you move on to "who even needs this?!" and then you spend some time being appalled at the prices, until finally, wild-eyed, you see some chocolate on display or whatever and all you can think is that it must get in your mouth immediately as reward for bearing the store at all.
posted by yasaman at 3:35 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


During a search for a ibrik (turns out you can use a butter melter (oh god, they stopped making these and WS wants $70 for a copper one and I bought mine for a buck at a yard sale and why did they stop making decent cheap enameled cookware and why could I only find a picture like that on etsy of all places jesus christ I hate humans)) the sales people at the flagship store looked at me blankly. Given that they had just about every other cooking instrument that I had ever heard of an a million that I had not, I was surprised.

Apparently, these days an ibrik will set you back less than a butter melter (hey I found one for $10 new, faith in humanity restored).

New plan: buy ibriks, sell them at inflated prices as butter melters. (The melting butter is important if one wants to have pancakes or waffles. I know it's a stupid unitasker, but I have used that more than some of the pots I own.)
posted by Hactar at 4:03 PM on November 14, 2012


Our head chef went in to buy something mundane like a cookie sheet. The staff at the W-S store were awful to him, patronizing and rude.

Really? Every time I've visited a WS store the staff have been exceptionally polite and helpful.

I love Williams Sonoma. It's a gorgeous store, highly aspirational, definitely expensive. Sort of the Apple store of the cooking world that way.
posted by shivohum at 4:05 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hactar - I wonder if the reason a butter melter is difficult to find may be because people these days use the small-bowl-and-microwave approach?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi there - my name is Katrina and I like Williams-Sonoma...

Hi, Katrina

I've never bought the super-pricey "bake them at home" baked goods, or anything particularly esoteric, but I have bought:

Flat roux whisks
A super-clearance Le Creuset dutch oven (5-ish quarts?)
LOTS and LOTS of their signature stripe tea towels
The exact perfect pressure cooker that my husband researched for months before settling, and they had one right on the shelf
Oval metal measuring cups that fit in the neck of the large glass jars we keep flours (yes, plural) and sugar in
Those heavy French tumblers that have actually BOUNCED when dropped on our quartzite floors

I'm sure there's other stuff, but I appreciate the quality of everything I've purchased there, the frequent sales, and the fact that they have a HUGE outlet about a half hour from my house.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:24 PM on November 14, 2012


Some years ago at Christmas I laughed at the absurdity of $22 artisinal marshmallows at Williams Sonoma. Really! I was sufficiently motivated to try making my own. Three times. Three different recipes. Three batches of dense lumps that were decidedly not delicious. But I still got the fancy pants ones in the end - they were marked down to $2 post Christmas.
posted by Calzephyr at 4:33 PM on November 14, 2012


New plan: buy ibriks dig tin cans out of the trash, rivet them to a piece of hammered re-bar, sell them at inflated prices as ARTISINAL butter melters.

The sad part is I've made a dipper blacksmithing that I could probably do this with.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:37 PM on November 14, 2012


Ebelskiver miniature pancake pan

Notes from Drew: My wife bought one of these pans for $3 at Home Goods once. They're useless. The fuck am I gonna do with seven very small pancakes?


No one who has actually eaten an Æbleskiver would say this.
posted by All Out of Lulz at 5:07 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


I once wrote an article* like this for my old Geocities page about Millionaire magazine. For Those Who Aspire...To Douchiness!

* it doesn't seem right to call it a "blog post" because the word "blog" hadn't been invented yet
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:20 PM on November 14, 2012


Wanders into WS, leans on counter, with a hoarse whisper "that copper fruit de-rinder, could a man, a motivated man, do some pretty weird butt stuff with that?... No, no, don't tell me yet." Touches clerks lips gently, like a butterfly alighting on a milk-thistle. "There, your soul just told me. I'll take two, do you accept Diner's Club?

I used to work at the W-S/Pottery Barn call center waaaay back in the day. We got calls like this not infrequently. The one that we were all warned about was "the feather duster man". His sthick was to call about the feather dusters and ask about it's size, color dimensions, types of items that it could be used to clean, etc.,. Just as the rep would run out of uses for the feather dusters, FDM would say, "... well, do you know what I would use it for?". He would describe his use of the feather duster, loudly orgasm and hang up the phone.
posted by echolalia67 at 5:27 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


A relative once gave me something ridiculous from Williams-Sonoma - a "grilling set" with a few utensils and an apron, or something. Through the magic of gift receipts I transformed this gift into a Bamix immersion blender, which is incredibly awesome. So W-S isn't all bad. Just mostly.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:48 PM on November 14, 2012


Damn you SpiffyRob. I just ordered a fruitcake from that Abbey. Forty-six dollars. And me, a fucking atheist. But that's the way the fruitcake jones is - it just destroys all of your pride and self-respect and you'll give money to anyone for your fix.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:15 PM on November 14, 2012


My ex was a W-S guy. He was the sort of cook who believed you couldn't make anything without dirtying every hand-wash-only Calphalon pan in the kitchen (which I had to wash by hand even though I physically couldn't hold them up), who thought mac and cheese always had to be made from scratch, who thought you couldn't use the jar garlic from the supermarket but had to crush fresh every time. His cooking was delightful, but he was an asshole and I had kitchen PTSD for years after I left him. I still don't like to cook; the ordeal he made of any time I spent in the kitchen is a big factor.

It took me about as long as he and I had been married to be able to set foot in W-S without cringing. I have some lovely bowls I got there with a wedding gift card now, and I think some of our kitchen towels came from there too. They have nice stuff, but I'll never stop feeling like anything I buy there has the aroma of douchiness wafting off it.
posted by immlass at 6:17 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't hate Williams Sonoma because:

CHAMPAGNE SABER ARE YOU KIDDING ME THEY HAVE SWORDS FOR CHAMPERS!!!

(I don't actually own this)

STAR WARS COOKIE CUTTERS!!!!!!!!!

(I definitely own this)


That said I like that the mother of pearl caviar spoons are in with the rest of the bins of kitchen odds and ends, like you're getting a new whisk and you realize Muffy is coming over for cocktails and you've one caviar spoon short, the horror!
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:22 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most of it is just awful, but the gloves for cleaning potatoes are not a bad idea.
posted by batou_ at 6:43 PM on November 14, 2012


who thought mac and cheese always had to be made from scratch, who thought you couldn't use the jar garlic from the supermarket but had to crush fresh every time

These are two of my favorite kitchen tasks, no kidding. (And I don't think I've ever actually been inside a Williams-Sonoma.)
posted by uncleozzy at 6:53 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


These are two of my favorite kitchen tasks, no kidding.

As long as you are not mocking me for using the jar garlic or for using the squeezy cheesy packet mix, more power to you, seriously. I make spaghetti sauce from scratch because that's the way I learned to do it, but I don't think using a jar sauce makes you a barbarian. It's the mandate to do it his way that made my ex an asshole, not his joy in particular tasks.
posted by immlass at 7:04 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would totally eat raclette four days a week.
posted by usonian at 7:09 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually know the guy who makes those chicken coops!

A lot of the stuff in their catalog is hilarious. Panini spatula? Really? My dad's girlfriend served one of their cranberry sauces at a pre-TG party recently and it was enjoyable, but I'd just as soon have canned.
posted by radioamy at 7:35 PM on November 14, 2012


HACTARRRRRR if you ever need them again, you want a dzezva

They sell them at Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian/Eastern European shops (or online) and they are cheap as dirt and come in all sizes! We have a mountain of them because we drink Turkish coffee, but we use them for butter, milk, etc. The name I'm giving you is Yugoslav, but I'm sure there is a Turkish name, too.
posted by Tarumba at 8:25 PM on November 14, 2012


My WASPy in-laws do the Christmas crackers thing

So my family in NJ discovered Christmas Crackers sometime in the 1980s because one of us kids stumbled across the Bagthorpes saga in the public library and we all got obsessed with these pretty hilarious books, one of which featured a Christmas mayhem scene with crackers. We had no idea what "crackers" were, other than saltines, and had the hardest time trying to figure out what they were based on context (there was no internet at the time to look them up on). They were what, firecrackers? But indoors? And they had a "motto" in them? What the hell was a "motto" if not a signature slogan? And there was a hat you were supposed to wear? And a prize? It just didn't add up. We were so curious.

Finally my mom came home triumphant one day with a box of crackers she had found at a discount catalog shop (something like East Coast Liquidators). Evidently some shipment from Tom Smith went horribly off course or something. We were overjoyed. We tried them out, and then we showed the rest of the box to whoever came over until we ran out. The next year she found them again and got some more - we used to give people gifts and tape a cracker to the top. They were very exotic!

Fast forward a few years, and they started showing up at Williams Sonoma and Marshalls. Now they're common as dirt. I often say that we were early adopters of the crackers invasion, if not directly responsible for much of their hold along the Eastern seaboard. We didn't want to be British, we are just an insatiably nosy family, impossibly attracted to quirky things.

That story aside, snarking at catalogs is sort of fun. But if you get just about any high-end catalog, their disconnect from reality is just as severe - until you realize that they are tightly connected to a lot of people's actual reality. Affluent people. When I housesat for the extremely affluent in Philadelphia, every evening began with me coming home to collect the pile of packages from Williams Sonoma, J. Jill, Coldwater Creek, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Henry& David, and whatever other dream books they thought nothing of ordering from. It awed me then, and still does, that you could buy a candle that cost an amount equivalent to my week's grocery bill at the time, but hey, you can.

But even laughing aside, some of this stuff is not stupid - maybe overpriced but not stupid in and of itself, if you can use it and have the taste for it. The twine holder is pretty clever and if you have to tie up your newspapers every week, handy, and attractive. The panini knife looks stupid and probably most people at home don't need that, but if you do make a lot of panini, hey. Sure.

As for cranberry sauce: I got a pound of fresh organic MA cranberries for $3, and I'm going to cook it with some sugar and ginger, and it's going to be the best cranberry sauce you ever had, because it always is. If I want to spent $40, I agree, I'll get the bottle of bourbon, add a splash to my $3 sauce, and drink the rest. To each their own. Mazel tov!
posted by Miko at 8:26 PM on November 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


eh you can make a chicken coop outta almost anything
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


such things as multicolored jute twine

the best part is the brand name: Nutscene.
posted by Miko at 8:33 PM on November 14, 2012


In defense of our local W-S, we approached them to request a donation for a multiple sclerosis fundraiser we were holding, and with no questions asked the manager whipped up a nice basket of themed items with a retail value well north of $100.

Granted, it was a $100 value at crazy marked-up prices, but I'm fairly certain we haven't cumulatively spent $100 there ever.
posted by OHSnap at 9:11 PM on November 14, 2012


This actually needs to be a tumblr blog. I'd like to read more of these because I both hate Williams-Sonoma and covet things they sell.

For a while Jezebel had a series where they would do snark riffs on the J. Crew catalog. It was the best thing on there, and when they stopped doing it that was my cue to stop reading Jezebel.

Someone should do a Catalog Haters tumblr. For real.
posted by Sara C. at 11:07 PM on November 14, 2012


another from a 'quirky' 'vintage' store that appears to cater to people frightened of charity shops.

I'm not sure what I was expecting to see at that link, but a log that costs 65 quid made me actually bark with surprised laughter.
posted by jeudi at 11:08 PM on November 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I kind of want everything from that "people frightened of charity shops" website.

Especially this, though I would more likely buy the equivalent from a charity shop.
posted by Sara C. at 11:26 PM on November 14, 2012


Honey, go get the rimming sugar and meet me in the bedroom.
posted by medusa at 3:40 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Assumption Abbey has a good fruit cake.

So does Gethsemani Farms
as does Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey
as does Holy Cross
as does Abbey of the Genesee
as does Monastery of the Holy Spirit
as does St Benedict's

A good clearing house for a variety of monastery produced goods

I've tried all but the Abbey of the Genesee in recent years - I work in a snack food adjacent field and get to try lots of samples. I don't really like alcohol fruitcakes so I personally prefer Collin St.

full disclosure: most, if not all of these places are customers/I've dealt with professionally
posted by jaimystery at 4:06 AM on November 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Drew Magary is one of my favorite comedy essayists. Thanks for posting!
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:46 AM on November 15, 2012


That waffle batter thing is weird because, waffles? For pancakes it makes sense, if you have a need for precision (like to make them identical). For funnel cakes, surely. But for waffles, nope. Pour it in, if it doesn't run over, almost certain you didn't use enough. For Brussels waffles, anyway. (Liege waffles are made from dough). If only because it would be sad to miss even a corner of a Brussels waffle. Maybe if it doubled for pouring donuts (with holes), it'd be great.

I had no idea WS was such a place. I think it grew up since I moved to Europe. A dear friend was their CIO for awhile, years ago. She was kind of evasive about exactly who they were (she found it weird I didn't know them).
posted by Goofyy at 5:47 AM on November 15, 2012


A couple people have asked me now (here and in MeMail) about the name of the book I was reading - it is American Appetite by Leslie Brenner.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:50 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


In my family, "Christmas crackers" means my cousins will be visiting for the holidays.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:56 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Charity shops aren't as good in London - not only are people more savvy now about how much things are worth, so they tend to get hived off to eBay or auctions (fair enough - it's making money for charity) but the major chains are now less like a jumble sale and more trying to compete with regular shops, so they're all a bit clean and free of weird, slightly tatty stuff for my liking. (One chain of charity bookshops here apparently throws out any book donations that look slightly read, with the exception of 'vintage' books which are priced at a premium. It's a shame because it reduces the chance of finding a very cheap book for a train ride, or something weird and interesting for a stocking-filler.) And in London, there are more fans of that shabby-chic aesthetic so the good stuff goes fast. Maybe that's who Pedlars are aiming at - people who are too busy with work/kids to root stuff out, and have the money to pay for someone else to do it for them.
posted by mippy at 7:15 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]



That was fun. Now do Filson.

Or Triple Aught (600 dollar "tactical" pocketknife???)

Snow Peak is also good for giggles.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:18 AM on November 15, 2012


Those heavy French tumblers that have actually BOUNCED when dropped on our quartzite floors

Gotta go back to this--my set of these exact tumblers, from W/S, is nearing age 30. None have ever broken, ever. They are as good as the day I got them.

The flip side of this is that those of us "of a certain age" can remember when most of the stuff in the store was awesome like this. Nowadays, the proportion of awesome stuff is much, much lower, which is why old-timer W/S visitors like me feel entitled to get our gripe on.
posted by gimonca at 9:48 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your twine reel is puny. I use MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF OLD-SCHOOL TWINE. (As with W-S, I find myself both loathing and coveting many of their items.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:56 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


> my set of these exact tumblers, from W/S, is nearing age 30. None have ever broken, ever.

I have a set of those exact tumblers, from a kitchen supply store. What does it say about the Corpse household that we've managed to chip one?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:56 AM on November 15, 2012


Man, I'll take that dried floral arrangement with all those poppy pods in the picture at the top...make me some tea.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:18 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The corpse in the library -- The Museum of Useful Things: Bringing the sex-ay back to UTILITY!

A $24 pencil sharpener? Really? And yet...
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:53 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ebelskiver miniature pancake pan

Notes from Drew: My wife bought one of these pans for $3 at Home Goods once. They're useless. The fuck am I gonna do with seven very small pancakes?


You get a proper poffertjespan (note: also overpriced, but just to give you an idea) then make a proper batch of poffertjes, serve with a bit of icing sugar, vanilla or other icecream optional, perhaps a bit of honey if you're that way inclined and have yourself a poor man's idea of a luxury meal.

Poffertjes by preference should be eaten during an old fashioned Dutch winter, after a vigerous day of skating.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:48 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


> A $24 pencil sharpener? Really? And yet...

guess what I bought yesterday

posted by The corpse in the library at 2:22 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Williams-Sonoma was a publishing client in my previous career several years ago. Chuck Williams was amazing. He was about 90 already when I worked there, and he was still reading every page of every book we published. He caught errors that had escaped copy editors and proofreaders and editors and designers and, embarrassingly, me. I only sat down with him once, and he was very straight-forward and interesting. I wish I had taken the chance to talk to him more, but I was totally intimidated. He also has fantastic style.

My co-worker started a list of Chuck's Pearls, wherein we kept some of his finer pieces of wisdom and suggestions. I wish I still had the list, alas, but the one that always stuck out was the one about how you could try to make a soufflé using a dog dish and it would probably turn out just fine. Interesting guy!

One lingering effect of this job is that fact that it makes me me unreasonably crazy when people mistake the name. Wiliams-Sonoma. Not Wiliams & Sonoma. Not Williams and Sonoma. Not Sonoma Williams. This thread is a relief, frankly, and I thank so many of you for getting it correct.
posted by juliplease at 8:12 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your twine reel is puny. I use MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF OLD-SCHOOL TWINE.

But that's baking twine; I think the twine reel pictured is for bundling twine, raffia type.
posted by Miko at 2:18 PM on November 16, 2012


No, it's for cooking twine. 100% cotton and un-dyed. You use it to truss up birds and the like.

It's good to have around, but it costs about $1 a spool at the supermarket and you don't actually need a little wooden dispenser for it. You just cut open the package and twine away, like any spool of string-like fiber-esque substance.
posted by Sara C. at 3:12 PM on November 16, 2012


I just like the wooden dispenser. I do have cooking twine and know what to use it for. Just thought it was for bundling twine at first glance.
posted by Miko at 4:01 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not too judge-y about people who are okay paying something other than the lowest possible price for well-regarded name-brand cookware, glassware, kitchen tools, etc., though I haven't found the staff to be particularly well-informed or helpful.

But the only sensemaking explanation for the ludicrously overpriced prepared foods, as far as I'm concerned, is an elaborate secret internal competition involving the buyers and catalogue copy writers.

(Confidential to Williams-Sonoma: please never stop selling rimming sugar because seriously, I never get tired of giggling at that.)
posted by desuetude at 5:43 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


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