Product: The Crock-Pot How It Started: Introduced in the 1970s, now in the midst of a revival Judgment: A healthy alternative to microwave ovens
The word crock-pot may conjure bad memories of mystery stews, but slow cookers are back. Embraced by busy people and sophisticated chefs, slow cooking has grown about 6% in each of the past five years. The Fix-It and Forget It Cookbook, a tome of slow-cooker recipes, has been on best-seller lists for six months. And sales of conical, clay Moroccan pots called tagines, left, are up. Behind the Crock-Pot's popularity: groovy new models (Michael Graves designed one for Black & Decker) and the fact that slow cooking requires less fat. "I can put the ingredients in at breakfast and then go to work all day," says Michelle Smith, 32. "We're less likely to turn to fast food."
--By Lisa McLaughlin