The psychology behind Instant Pot’s monster success

The psychology behind Instant Pot’s monster success

The designer behind the Instant Pot–and its new successor, the $200 Max–talks about easing the anxiety of American chefs.

Did America even cook before Amazon Prime Day in 2016, when the e-commerce giant unveiled the $70 Instant Pot? Hundreds of thousands of people bought the tabletop pressure cooker in a single a day, and legions of Instant Pot cookbooks appeared on shelves overnight. In the two years since, countless Instant Pot clones have popped up in attempts of dethroning the king.

Instant Pot’s name deserves no small amount of credit for its success. After all, it’s an electric pressure cooker. Pressure cookers have existed for decades. They operate under a relatively simple principle of physics, creating a chamber of pressure greater than our normal atmosphere, raising the boiling point of food and cooking it faster. But the term “pressure cooker” has a psychological weight. It conjures up images of a dangerous, hissing tool that can be turned into a makeshift bomb. Even the word “pressure” communicates the stress of an imminent explosion.

But Instant Pot? It sounds like a Monday night miracle that can cook you a Mississippi roast in 45 minutes flat. Likewise, its industrial design is nearly idiot-proof. Unlike conventional pressure cookers, which need to be monitored, the Instant Pot is set-and-forget. It made pressure cooking less scary in practice, not just in name.

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