Everything old is new again. Originally conceived as an electric pot for cooking beans in the 1940s, the Crock Pot, an updated all-purpose slow cooker, was introduced by Rival in 1971. Promising an easier way to make an entire meal, ahead of time, in a single pot, the countertop slow cooker came into widespread use in the 1970s. So ubiquitous was the original Crock Pot that, for those of us of a certain age, any slow cooker gets the moniker Crock Pot (much like household names Kleenex and BandAids) regardless of actual brand.
Initially marketed to, and popular with, the large numbers of women who entered (or returned to) the workforce during the 1970s, the slow cooker is showing renewed popularity in recent years. Over 80% of American households have some kind of slow cooker, almost half of whom used the pot in the last month.
Easy, homemade and healthy. Many slow-cooker recipes are healthy ones: recipes for meats and poultry that simmer in their own juices (or in a bit of broth or wine) all day long minimize the amount of oils needed to cook. Likewise, many slow cooker recipes are very simple (as simple as: put these things in the pot, cook on “low” for eight hours, serve with a salad). These easy recipes often call for fresh or minimally processed ingredients, and the cooking method helps preserve much of their nutritional value, as well.
Eight tips for making slow cooker use even easier: