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“This Is Us” fans want to know: Are slow cookers safe?


Are slow cookers actually safe? Pin It
Photo: Stocksy/Carolyn Lagattuta

After the latest episode of NBC’s hit show This Is Us, pretty much the entire country was left sobbing uncontrollably—myself included. Even though viewers have been aware all along that all-American dad Jack Pearson’s death was imminent, the fateful reason behind was finally revealed: a faulty slow cooker.

At the end of the episode, right as Jack heads to bed, the switch from the family’s slow cooker flickers back on, and soon, flames are everywhere. It didn’t take long for there to be a major spike in IRL Google searches for “are crockpots safe,” likely due to the inquiries of frantic fans. So, what’s the deal? Should you toss your slow cooker in the garbage?

Even though the slow cooker in the show wasn’t a Crock-Pot branded product, the company still felt the heat of concern after the episode and decided to provide some peace of mind. Because even though this onscreen loss feels oh-so-real, you have to remember: Jack is a fictional character in a fictional show. Even the show’s creator, Dan Fogelman, chimed in, tweeting: “Taking a moment to remind everyone that it was a 20-year-old fictional crockpot with an already funky switch.”

“It is important that our consumers understand and have confidence that all Crock-Pot slow cookers exceed all internal testing protocols, and all applicable industry safety standards and regulations as verified by independent third-party testing labs.” —Newell Brands

A spokesperson for Newell Brands, Crock-Pot’s parent company, issued a statement to NBC News to inspire further slow-cooker confidence. “Crock-Pot understands the concerns brought up by last night’s episode of This Is Us, and we too are heartbroken by the latest development in Jack’s story line. However, it is important that our consumers understand and have confidence that all Crock-Pot slow cookers exceed all internal testing protocols, and all applicable industry safety standards and regulations as verified by independent third-party testing labs.”

Newell Brands added that in the 50 years Crock-Pots have been sold, with more than 100 million sales, there’s never been a single customer complaint that’s at all similar to what happened in This Is Us. They also noted the design of the product makes it nearly impossible to happen.

“Our Crock-Pot slow cookers are low-current, low-wattage—typically no more than 200 or 300 watts—appliances with self-regulating, heating elements,” the company’s statement continued. “The product is designed to cook foods over a longer period of time at low temperatures, and the switches connect to only one side of the power-line voltage, so there is never a high voltage applied directly across our switches.”

“With electrical appliances and cooking-related fires, we find it’s usually due to user error. Use it as it’s intended to be used.” —James Long, director of public information for the New York City Fire Department

Still not convinced? Though Self reported slow cookers, in general, have only caused an average of 70 cooking fires between 2011 and 2015, none of which resulted in deaths, there are some precautions you can take. The biggest one is to read the directions.

“With electrical appliances and cooking-related fires, we find it’s usually due to user error,” James Long, director of public information for the New York City Fire Department, told Self. “Regardless of the appliance, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Use it as it’s intended to be used.”

So don’t cut your slow cooker out of your meal-prep repertoire just yet: You do have Super Bowl party attendees to feed, after all.

When you’re ready to bust out your slow cooker, try this Moroccan chicken recipe, or make some vegetarian sweet-potato chili.