Gadget Or Gimmick: The Vidalia Chop Wizard

Growing up, I hated onions. Raw, roasted, caramelized, fried — I would push them around on my plate in horror. Then, at 19, something shifted. On a blisteringly windy, cold winter day, I took shelter from the outdoors with my friend at a gastropub and ordered a burger. Feeling cozier and cozier (and hungrier and hungrier), by the time the burger arrived piled high with grilled onions, nothing had ever looked so good to me. I took a huge bite, thus beginning a love affair with the root vegetable. Now, I want onions (and lots of them) on everything. But just one problem: they make me cry... and cry and cry and cry. Apparently, wearing contacts or glasses can help mitigate the affects of the tear-inducing chemicals a sliced onion lets off, but I have 20/20 vision, and chopping away in sunglasses didn't do enough good to make it worth my newly-darkened eyesight. So when I first saw the Vidalia Chop Wizard, I was hopeful. Perfectly diced onions in seconds, no sobbing required? It was worth a whirl. To use the Vidalia Chop Wizard, you slice the onion in half, then remove the root end and skin. After that, simply place the onion, cut-side down, over the square metal grid and press down. And, voila, perfectly diced onions. In theory, that is. After putting the first half onion on the blades, I pressed and pressed and pressed... to no success. I'm not super strong, but, like, I do go to barre classes, you know? I examined the semi-squashed onion I had created and realized it was too big. Even though it fit on the square, as I pushed down, the onion spread out a little bit, making it too big to go through. I pulled away the larger outside layers, and with a little bit more elbow grease, was able to get it through. For the second half, I quartered it and was able to dice it much easier, though it still took a fair amount of force. Like, stand-on-my tippy-toes-to-really push-it-hard-enough kind of force.
I had originally planned to ask my roommate to do a head-to-head chopping challenge (traditional vs. Vidalia Chop Wizard), but I decided it wasn't worth it. Even if you can excuse the extra effort it took to get diced onions, it was a pain to empty out the cartridge. The wet, freshly-diced onion clung to the plastic container, and I had to use a spatula to fully clean it. (Not to mention it was a mess getting it out of the container and into a smaller bowl — onion bits everywhere.) Afterwards, I was left with four dirty dishes: the Chop Wizard (and all its various parts), the spatula, a knife, and a cutting board. And two of those dirty dishes were the very implements I was trying to avoid by using the Chop Wizard! The Chop Wizard also promises that it can cut up chicken, peppers, eggs, and even carrots, which would all probably be easier than the onion. I didn't try them, but nearly all would require significant prep before use, like deseeding the pepper or slicing the carrot or chicken breast into small enough sections to fit on the blades. Once you have the knife out, it's really a question of a minute or two more of chopping to get the job done. Of course, the egg actually won't take excessive prep work, but I've never found dicing a boiled egg to be a particularly onerous task to being with. I will say that many of the Amazon reviews give the Chop Wizard high marks for help in dicing up large amounts of onions for canning or salsa for a huge group. If you are one of the (I imagine very few) people who is often dicing up bags of onions at a time in your home kitchen, I'd recommend looking into a food processor. While it is bigger and more expensive, it would handle a lot more onions more quickly, and do a lot more for you than just dice. For the rest of us, we'll just having to keep on crying — but onions, you will forever be worth it.
Illustrated by Louisa Canell.

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