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Will the Instant Pot be another flash in the pan? |

Will the Instant Pot be another flash in the pan?

High-end juicers. Home seltzer machines. Sous vide. Every year there’s a new fad culinary gadget that wins a coveted spot on countertops across the country, only to be relegated to distant cupboards or the garage once the novelty wears off.

This holiday season, nothing in the kitchen is more buzzworthy than the Instant Pot — a multipurpose electric cooker that slow cooks, pressure cooks, sautés, steams and even makes yogurt from scratch.

The gadget has attained cultlike status among its devotees for its ability to reduce cooking times, dirty dishes and waistlines (since it’s averse to fried foods). Those reasons, experts said, give the Instant Pot something kitchen gifts of Christmases past have lacked: staying power.

“They are a great example of product innovation meeting consumer needs,” said Joe Derochowski, executive director and home industry analyst at research firm NPD Group. “Multi-cookers are not a fad.”

The device’s inventor, Robert Wang, said his appliance is every bit as indispensable as a microwave. Five years and millions of unit sales later, the phrase doesn’t sound all that laughable to him anymore.

“I think it’s attainable now,” Wang said from his company headquarters in Ottawa.

More than 800,000 fans now belong to the Instant Pot’s Facebook group, sharing recipes and photos. Food writers and chefs have embraced the appliance.

And a cottage industry of accessories and cookbooks have spawned out of the Instant Pot’s success, which has been buoyed by word-of-mouth buzz since Wang eschews traditional advertising and marketing.

“I understand the skepticism with so many kitchen gadgets out there, but this just keeps getting more popular,” said Laurel Randolph, who is working on her second Instant Pot cookbook after the first sold more than 350,000 copies. The runaway success of the Instant Pot, which typically sells for less than $100, has propelled sales of multi-cookers 79 percent to over $300 million in the 12 months ending in November, according to NPD. In addition to Instant Pot, brands such as Black + Decker, Breville and Cuisinart also make multi-cookers.

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