A few weeks ago my son found a food dehydrator hidden away in out attic.
Kier is kind of a Jerky-o-holic, so finding a food dehydrator is a dream come true for him. Needless to say, he immediately started looking into how to make jerky and where to get ingredients. I suggested that he check out Sportsman’s Warehouse, so off he went to get jerky mix, or something. So we bought a nice London broil at Safeway and immediately did what comes naturally to a father and son. First we experimented then we competed for who makes the best jerky. So I went the route of following the instructions that came with the dehydrator, don’t be so shocked, I do follow the instructions occasionally. Kier followed the directions for the kit he got at Sportsman’s Warehouse. We got wildly different results but both batches were tasty and on par with store bought.
We are not deluding ourselves into thinking that we were saving any money. Nope we figure we are paying about $20.oo per pound for a finished product. But the important thing is that we made it ourselves. The dehydrator is a miracle of simplicity and functional design. I am sure that somewhere there is a scientific design that took years of research to develop. But at first glance it’s just a bunch of plastic trays and a low power heating element. Somehow it magically changes strips of meat into jerky in about 12 hours. Yep, I get up in the morning and lay out strips of meat on the trays, and when I get home from work it’s done. It’s quite amazing how much water is in a strip of beef.
Two things printed on the box of the dehydrator that made me nostalgic. The words RONCO and ‘As Seen on TV’ I haven’t heard those magic words in years. Back in the 70s it was common for me to be spending long late nights watching TV. Back then before cable television when you watched TV late at night and all the normal networks went off the air (Yes in the old days TV stopped broadcasting just after midnight) your only choice was UHF. Yep technically known as Ultra High Frequency, and also known to us in Northern California as the Lebris Late Night Theater. Hosted by some disco era, post hippy, huxter selling waterbeds playing really bad old movies all night long. Movies like ,Santa Clause Concurs the Martians, or Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Better than the movies, were the commercials. The Ginsu knife, the Veg-o-Matic, the Inside-The-Shell Egg Scrambler, GLH-9 Hair in a Can Spray, and many other things that I could not bring myself to purchase. These products were all from RONCO. I could not bring my self to take these products seriously, I guess its something about that other label, ‘As seen on TV’. For as long as I can remember I have always felt that there is something better to do that sit in front of the boob tube. It’s the entertainment of default. When I do spend a lot of time watching TV I feel guilty, like I just gave up and let some of my life slip away. So buying something that is specifically advertised to be of interest to people because it is ‘As seen on TV’ would be like publicly admitting to defeat. Proclaiming “Yes, I have spend hours watching the damn idiot box and I can’t live with my ginsu knife!”
Somehow I did dodge that bullet. I still to this day maintain my self image of not bending to the media onslaught of bad products and cheap prices. I can proudly proclaim myself as RONCO virgin. How you may ask did I obtain the magic that is a jerky machine? My mother in law bought us the dehydrator years ago; we stuffed it into the garage attic and forgot about it. It was my son that rubbed the dust off of the magic lamp and let loose the genii of jerky.
Thank you Kier and thank you Ron Popeil, It is a miracle of engineering.