September 16, 1994|By Greg Dawson, Sentinel Columnist
Sometimes I think the most dangerous three words in the English language are ''new and improved.''
It seems impossible, for example, that anyone could ruin a product as basic as frozen water - a.k.a. ice - but, by Jove, I think we've done it!
In case you haven't noticed, ice cubes are on the way to becoming as extinct as the practice of men dragging women back to the cave by their hair.
This is no small matter in the endless summer of Central Florida. We are connoisseurs of ice the way Minnesotans are experts on mittens and ski masks.
Cubes are being frozen out by that hideous crescent-shaped ice that's standard issue in all new refrigerators and is making slobbering fools of us all.
At first I thought it was just me, that early dotage explained why I'm no longer able to enjoy a cold beverage on ice without pouring liquid all over my face.
''Next they'll be cutting my meat and spreading a napkin on my lap,'' I thought.
But it seems I'm not alone. I see other adults reverting to a time when they sat in a high chair flinging strained peas with a rubber-coated spoon and learning, drenchingly, to drink from a cup.
Of course, a 40-year-old in a Humpty Dumpty bib looks pretty silly, so we must dab discreetly at our chins, necks and shirts.
This is a classic example of how the forward march of technology often leads backward into sheer aggravation.
All new refrigerators on the market today have ice makers that turn out the user-unfriendly crescents.
''Everybody comes in and complains about the shape of ice cubes, the way you turn the glass up to your mouth and all of a sudden the cubes hit you in the nose,'' said Stu Kimball of Southeast Steel, an Orlando appliance dealer.
The problem, for those who haven't endured it, is that the rounded edge of the half-moon ice adheres to the side of the glass, sealing off the normal flow into the mouth. Instead, the fluid sluices off to the side and down the corners of the mouth. A big mess.
If everyone hates crescent ice, how come it monopolizes the market?
''It works the best - it doesn't jam up,'' Kimball said of the crescent ice-maker. ''Do you want a regular supply of ice, with the lousy shape, or pretty cubes from a system that doesn't work very well?''
This sounds like the same quality-for-convenience tradeoff we made with supermarket tomatoes, which are now available - and inedible - year round.
The last company to make a refrigerator with an automatic ice cube maker was GE. It proved unreliable so GE joined the crescent revolution, Kimball said.
The only alternative is a crushed-ice dispenser available on double-door models. You can have it. I find that crushed ice either becomes slush or forms a small iceberg at the bottom of the glass.
You just can't beat ice cubes. Nothing produces the musical clink in a glass like cubes. Crescent ice logjams in the glass, and crushed ice sounds good only when it's being scooped.
It's hard to believe so many people would give up cubes simply to guarantee a regular supply of ice.
I mean, how much ice do you need? Our ice maker pumps out enough ice each day to cool a nuclear reactor. I'm constantly throwing out bins of congealed crescents.
We're not much better off today than when ice was delivered in a horse-drawn wagon by Laurel and Hardy. The boys would drag huge blocks up dizzying flights of stairs, then lose their grip and watch the ice bump-bump-bump all the way down to the sidewalk.
Yes, you can still buy plastic trays and make ice cubes - those tiny ice niblets that come shooting out of the tray and end up on the floor for the cats to bat around.
What you can't buy, it seems, are the aluminum trays with levers that I regard as the pinnacle of ice-making art, circa 1956.
There was something deep-down satisfying about running warm water over the cubes and the bottom of the tray, then pulling the crank.
Even Miller Hardware in Winter Park, a Back to the Future sort of place, doesn't carry the aluminum trays anymore.
It won't be long before the only ice cube left in America will be that rap singer. A depressing thought. I need a cold drink. But hold the ice.
Let's block ads! (Why?)