Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Tea Kettle Dilemma

Mr. Peacock had a bad habit (and still does) of putting some water on to boil for tea, and then walking into another room and starting some other project—completely forgetting about the tea kettle...oops!

On more than one occasion, I returned to the kitchen to find a melted handle and spout dripping over the body of some inexpensive whistling tea kettle—with all of the water boiled away and plastic fumes.

In 1984 I was gifted with the Richard Sapper whistling tea kettle—the first “designer” kettle by Alessi (above). For years, I kept the steel surface as pristine and shiny as possible, but eventually I let it get a natural “patina” and look a bit weathered. Once I had to get a little rubber sleeve replacement to go over the lever that lifts the handle (it gets hot). Other than that rubber sleeve replacement, this tea kettle has never had any problems.

I’ve used it almost every day for 25 years, with the exception of being in storage for about 3 years. A few weeks ago, however, a piece of the scalloped handle snapped off—so much for plastic.

My dilemma...should I simply replace this tea kettle with another Richard Sapper kettle, or get a completely different style. My only prerequisite is that it is a whistling kettle, and I lean towards silver/chrome/steel finishes.

The Michael Graves tea kettle was much more popular than my trusty Sapper kettle, but I never really liked the look of this kettle...but it has grown on me over the years.

This whistling Windsor kettle is classic.

This whistling kettle has clean lines, and a harmonic whistle.

A whistling red kettle could be fun.

This Italian kettle looks industrial and sturdy.

I was originally drawn to the Sapper kettle for aesthetic reasons. It looked a bit Constructivist to me. I still think it’s a beautiful tea kettle. And the whistle reminded me of a train barreling through my kitchen—and stopped me from having a melted kettle.

So what do you think? Should I stick with the Sapper kettle or try a different kettle?

21 comments:

Scott Fazzini said...

My vote is to stick with what you know. That Sapper kettle is by far the most exciting of the bunch. The stopper is amazing! It looks like the end of a guy, and I love that it's brass (is it?) mixed with the silver. Beautiful!

ayem8y said...

After twenty-five years together it would be like losing a close friend. All of the replacements appear stylish and pedigreed but lack the charm of the Sapper. Semi-retirement maybe? Followed with an introduction to a new sexy Italian kitchen co-worker.

mrpeenee said...

I like the idea of the harmonic whistle since the shrill shriek of a regular one grates on my nerves.

Lauren Chattman said...

Someone gave me the Michael Graves/Target kettle, and let me tell you how it spilled boiling water all over the counter and my fingers when I aimed the spout at a cup. Now I own the whistling windsor, which is not only safe, but brings water to a boil unbelievably quickly.

jason said...

I vote for your classic Sapper...
or maybe the classic Windsor.

In fact, reading your post, I think I should get a whistling one myself, since mine is all too mute.

Christi said...

Mr Peacock,
I love them all, so I shall be no help to you, but I am going to buy a red tea pot for myself. Add a little pizazz to all the stainless steel.
Thanks!

jezebel said...

Sapper, I say!

drew-o-rama.com said...

i have the graves tea kettle. i have always liked it. my only concern is pulling off the bird whistle cap is awkward when it's hot.

i often wish i would have bought the one you have because i like the handle/lever that opens the whistle/cap.

Mr. Peacock said...

Thanks everyone for the input!

Scott...
I like the mixed metals too!

Mean & Dirty Pirate...
That kettle is like an old friend...
it had alot of sentimental
attachment for me....
maybe I'll try gluing the handle?!

Hi Mr. Peenee...
The harmonica whistle is fantastic...get one!
The first time I boiled water
in it was a thrill hearing it.

Lauren...
You never know how something
is really going to function,
until it's too late...
sorry to hear about your hot spill.
I've heard that Windsor is fast
at boiling...thanks for sharing the info.

Hi Jason...
You need a whistlin' kettle!

Christi...
The red is nice!

Hi Jezebel!

Andrew...
I wondered about that...
yes, the Sapper lever is
smooth, but can get warm.

I'll keep you posted on
my decision!

LENORENEVERMORE said...

Mr peacock...been there done that too! ~oops!!

So finally I got 'Breville Electric Water Kettle' fm William Sonoma. It's the best...it shut off automaticly with my fave sound 'ding*' at the end...

Highly recommended darling!

Anonymous said...

I vote for the Windsor because of the wood handle - wood works better than ceramic or plastic.

I'd suggest copper, but only because I'm stained out.

I'm another who has thrown out misbehaving teapots. Plastic whistles are sadistic.

Susan said...

Been trying to find a picture of my incredibly shiny and chic art deco style Morphy Richards kettle. It looks great and boils ultra-fast, but if you fill it over half way, boiling water erupts out all over the place (which isn't great if your toaster is within spurting distance). By the way, did you see your competitor on my blog today? http://shopcurious.blogspot.com/2009/07/graduating-in-colour.html
xx

Amarina said...

I have the wistling windsor kettle. It was pricey I thought, but needed something very durable, for the very reason that I've burned out several kettles. The wistle simply cannot be ignored so it is perfect for me. I can hear it in my basement, when I go out to the yard, probably my neighbors can hear it. It is very heavy duty and the handle never overheats. I love the classic look.

Kettle Killer said...

ROFL while reading this. I thought perhaps I was the only one who walks off and forgets about boiling kettles on the stove.

I destroyed one last year when I left the house and forgot about the vintage enameled with bakelite handle beauty of a kettle.

I have been online for hours trying to find a replacement for the vintage Mirro aluminum I destroyed 2 days ago. This makes my 3rd kettle in less than a year. But yet I can bake like nobodies business.

I demand function AND looks! Who says you can't have both? You have convinced me though, I must stick with one that whistles loudly.

Who said you can only have one? I say stick with the Sapper but buy the bold red one as well for a flash of dash.

It does put the "fun" back in functional and would also look great around the holidays.

Kracken said...

the sapper is still my favorite (not that i've ever owned one). my last was an ikea (nothing special, but at least it whistled). now that that's gone (lost in a move), i use a pot. a plain ol' non-whistling saucepan.
say.... if you haven't chucked your old kettle yet, would you mind letting me have it?

xstatikgrrl said...

I have the le creuset kettle in pink, and I like it a lot. But the Sapper kettle is cool. It looks like Ulysses' (or one of his contemporaries') helmet.

Kettle Killer said...

I just killed my first kettle of the year.......RIP. *sighs*

I need to splurge for the sapper with the really loud whistle. In the end I will actually save money.

Jeff said...

Keep the old one - Unica Home sells the handles for $24. Handle screws are $6. unicahome.com, I think.

NoisyNarrowBand said...

just found a pristine sapper kettle for €30 at a thrift store. however on my first testrun I badly burned my finger on the lever. it does get hot!

what kind of rubber-sleeve did you use to aleviate the problem?! I love the kettle, but this needs a fix.

thx!!

Anonymous said...

I think you should stick with the harmonic whistle tea kettle. You can order replacement parts on the Alessi site online. Whistle, handle and the pin for the whistle. I bought one second hand for $5 and plan to order the parts when I have some extra money. The whistle runs $75. You can maybe get one on Ebay - none right now but keep looking.

ulqiora said...

Hello, where did you order the rubber piece for the trigger? my kettle is too hot to touch!