The week in reviews: ice cube trays

I love shopping online; it’s fast, it’s convenient, and my anxiety disorder makes any trip to an actual store a crippling ordeal. However, because my obsessive-compulsive disorder forces me to pick up a product and look at it from all angles before buying it, turning it over and over in my hands while staring mutely for several minutes, internet purchases entail for me a certain element of risk. Descriptions are of little value, since virtually every product of our post-consumer economy is described as “revolutionary.” Fortunately, I have access to the only genuinely revolutionary product of the internet shopping age: the user review.

It was with this luxury at our disposal that my brother and I went shopping on the internet for ice cube trays. The ice cube trays currently in my brother’s house—where I live, it should be pointed out, completely rent-free in a very nice neighborhood of Washington DC, with essentially unlimited access to air conditioning and high-fiber cereals—are fucking terrible. They were made by the Ikea corporation, and are heart-shaped and Kit Kat-shaped, respectively. The heart ice cubes are never used, because their combination of points, crevices and rigidity make them impossible to remove from the tray. They will be used as samples of Washington, DC drinking water by anthropologists centuries into the future. The Kit Kat ice cubes are slightly better, but they are designed in such a way as to maximize surface area, which also makes them difficult to remove from a tray that, for added inconvenience, features grooves narrower than the spaces between the bars on the freezer rack. Fifty percent of the time, when you refill the Kit Kat tray and put it back in the freezer, one end of it slips down through the rack, coating the frozen food below with water. This is unacceptable.

So we went on Amazon and typed “ice cube tray,” which yielded fifty results. Fortunately, people all across America have taken the time, after their internet-purchased ice cube trays arrive in the mail, to use them for a few months and then—this is amazing—go back on Amazon and rate them using a star system. Those ratings reflect a stunning diversity of quality in the field of ice cube tray manufactury. For example, the innocuously-named TRAY ICE CUBE 2-PK, a product of the Rubbermaid corporation, gets two stars. In her review—“somewhat stylish design, but lacking in execution”—Erin Lynn Barr of Victorville, California says:

I liked the look of these trays and got two sets at my local
walmart (or somewhere… I don’t remember now) I have
had these for years. The problems with these are as

They do not create equal sized or shaped cubes.
The cubes are difficult to get out.
Some cubes come out, while others are stuck in the tray.
I used these to freeze homemade baby food (sweet
potatoes) and while twisting unsuccessfully, the tray
handle cracked, and still no cubes came out.

Other than that, it makes ice. You can’t expect more from
an ice cube tray, but this frustrated me, so I thought I’d

In addition to inadvertently writing a haiku, Erin Lynn Barr saved us from making a terrible mistake. Despite the attitude of suicidal quietism embodied in her assertion that “you can’t expect more from an ice cube tray,” you definitely can. Check out the 2867–RD–WHT White Ice Cube Tray, also by Rubbermaid, which gets four and a half stars in 24 glowing reviews, like this one:

It may seem strange to rave about ice cube trays, but I
have too much experience slamming my old plastic trays
on the countertop to loosen the cubes, causing crack that
leaked water onto my freezer after I tried to fill them.
These trays release the cubes very easily. One less source
of daily frustration.

That’s from Rob T, who claims he is from Los Angeles, CA but clearly leaves in a Raymond Carver story. His review is titled, “Absolutely amazing,” an outpouring of wonderment contextualized somewhat by the title of the preceding review, “Ice Cube Tray.” Mike and I bought that one, which based on its picture was a white plastic tray divided into several small compartments shaped like cubes. It cost six dollars, which is probably insane.

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