While all Crock Pots are slow cookers, not all slow cookers are Crock Pots. Confused? Well, think of it this way... the term "Crock Pot" is actually a brand name. Most like the use of the word Kleenex is to tissues. Though they both perform a similar function, the differences between the two, is the mechanics and how it applies to the cooking. A crock-pot is a pot that sits inside a surrounding heating element, and has high/low temperature options. The surrounding heat allows for food to rise to a safe temperature quicker, and for longer times. The crock-pot excels at cooking large, tough pieces of meat, like a pot roast. A slow cooker is usually a metal pot that sits on top of a heating surface, and has a range of heating temperatures. The slow cooker is better at soups and stews.
The whole concept started with a Jewish mothers humble bowl of bean stew. Tamara Kaslovski Nachumsohn was the inspiration for the modern day crock- pot. Tamara would tell stories to her son, Irving Naxon, about a traditional Jewish bean stew cooked in her village in Lithuania. The family would bring a stew, called cholent, to the town bakery and place the pot in the warm baking ovens on Friday before the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of rest and the villagers could not work…which included cooking. As the ovens cooled, the residual heat over the course of the next 24 hours would cook the stew. Inspired by his mothers story, Naxon, invented a cooking device that he called the Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker in 1936. The portable device he invented sounds familiar to what we have today. An insert to hold the food, held up by a case that stores the heating device, which facilitated long but even cooking inside the insert.
Irving later created The Naxon Utilities Corporation of Chicago for the manufacturing and selling of his cooker. The Rival Company bought the design from Naxon in 1970, rebranding the Beanery as the Crock Pot in 1971. The timing was perfect. Mothers were entering the work force at a record pace, and they were looking for modern conveniences to continue to cook for their families. The women found that they could start a meal before they left for work and have a warm, finished meal by the time they got home. Brilliant. The Crock Pot sold millions in the 1970s, but had a slow decline as the popularity of the microwave started gaining speed.
What is old is new. The slow cooking process is as popular as ever again. 83% of families, as of 2011, own a version of a slow cooker and websites like Pinterest fill our cookers with delicious, unique, and easy recipes. We are particularly fond of making Thai soups and beef short ribs in our cookers but you can make desserts, beverages, bread, and dips. The options are only limited to your imagination and palate. Go to your basement, wipe the dust off of your cooker, and start cooking.