If your thermometer has these in its display, you’ve got a gadget, not an instrument.
No Piggies or Cows Here
In the digital displays of award-winning ThermoWorks cooking thermometers, you won’t find little piggies, chicks, or cows. There won’t be any fishies, turkeys, or lambs either. Ever wonder why? Let me explain.
If you shop the confusing and overwhelming array of consumer gadgets sold as cooking thermometers, most feature little cartoon images of barnyard animals so you can, without thinking, select a food and a pre-programmed doneness temperature. These novelty makers use temperatures from the FDA Doneness Chart. Actual chef-recommended temperatures can vary quite a bit from that chart. So does personal preference.
The gadget makers assume the user doesn’t really know what they’re doing and would not really be interested in all the possible variety of cooking conditions and the differences between cuts and proteins. So they give you a limited selection of factory-set alarms to supposedly simplify the art of cooking. We think that’s because they don’t “get it.” They don’t cook and they’re not instrument makers.
ThermoWorks has always manufactured instruments for professional users. We don’t just take consumer gadgets and attach the word “Pro” to the product label. None of our commercial users would accept piggies, chicks, and cows on their instrumentation. It’s a dead giveaway that you’ve got a consumer gizmo.
Many years ago, as ThermoWorks commercial thermometers became more and more popular with aspiring home cooks and pitmasters, we resisted bad advice from mass-market consumer marketing “experts” to add piggies, chicks, and cows. We noted that the real cooking experts at Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen wrote about the uselessness of the little animal cartoons on cooking alarms. We also took notice that no reputable recipe published anywhere referred to them. Can you imagine: “Set your alarm thermometer to the little cow, then choose medium-well.” No food expert ever suggests using the factory-set doneness temperature on your thermometer. There’s a good reason for that.
Preset cartoon doneness just doesn’t make sense. Take turkey. You would need a dark-meat turkey and a white-meat turkey setting. It still wouldn’t account for carryover cooking strategies. So you would need a small turkey, medium turkey, and a large turkey setting, and you would need a high-temperature roasting scheme versus a low-and-slow roasting scheme. All of these can mean different pull temperatures to account for different carryover conditions. And what about beef? How many different circumstances could be covered with one little cow?
ThermoWorks believes that little barnyard animal settings will lead even entry-level home cooks to results that disappoint. If you want to know if a cooking thermometer is really a professional tool or not, check to see if it has piggies, chicks, and cows in its display. A trained chef wouldn’t use it so why should you? Moreover, there will be other differences in your cartoon thermometer. Its construction will be lower cost. The circuits will be rudimentary and cheap. It won’t last as long. Nor will the probes. It won’t offer the same performance. The maker won’t have an accredited calibration lab, the same stringent quality control, or professional tech support. It’s not an instrument. Clue #1 is the cartoons.