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A Superficial Question, or maybe just a stupid one

I don't think Pope Francis will have the answer. But who knows...maybe he does.

Question: What has happened to pot holders? You know those square (sometimes rectangle), thick, easily manipulated things that sat by the stove and permitted hot pots to be moved. I have conducted a wide search for someone who asked for them for Christmas. Pot holders are now mostly silicone, wormy things that are hard to hold and to grasp a pot with. Or they are flimsey decorative pieces of cloth sewn together.

Have I missed a recall? New safety whatsies? Anyone know?

And what about the candy cane situation... None to be had! Gone the way of real jelly beans.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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I've found both objects lately, and it wasn't all that difficult.  But maybe it's a regional thing, too.  The higher end stores are less likely to have the more mundane pot holders, but mid-range and lower end places, and a fair number of online merchants still carry them.  Candy canes are easily found in most drugstores where I live.  Or do you have something specific in mind as defining a 'real' candy cane?

There is, as you would expect, an app for that but the settings are a nightmare.

Margaret, I searched for potholders a couple of years ago.  I hate the stiff silicone ones and the huge mitt ones.  Dangerous.   I found some that I liked at Berea College's crafts store (online), but they don't sell them anymore.  (Their baby blankets are the best ever.)  Chefs don't use potholders.  Just towels.

Candy canes.  Yuck.  Terrible colors now and weird flavor and texture.  The way the old ones dissolved, as they did when used to suck the juice out of an orange at Girl Scout camp, was great.   (Vermont Country Store might have better ones.  Not sure.)

Ms. Steinfels - we received one when we got married but after 23 yrs it broke.  Was in Rome in October and my wife found one with the Vatican on it and so we now have a pot sticker.

Meant *holder* - duh!!   Our local *Central Market* makes and sells homemade candy canes - they are to die for.

Peggy:   Who's going to be the lucky recipient of this Christmas gift?

If you promised not to tell: my daughter, who has everything.

She reported not being able to find any. Recently in her kitchen, I had to grab a towel to pull something out of the oven. I see her problem and I have made it my mission to find some. I gave her the last ones (maybe a la Bill deHaas for her wedding). I bought them for zilch at Zabar's, which now has only the silcone ones. The decline of the West continues apace!

 I sort of had the same thoughts as i shop at Target alot and i noticed their pot holders are flimsy looking. i bought some, really  only beause i love the look of them, I havn't used them because they feel so flimsy.[No regulations ?] I have one set of now frayed [real] potholdes and two mitts.I  use the  potholders and the mitts at the same time when taking something out of the oven. My mother gave me beautiful thick real  kitchen towels and told me i should use those  instead of potholders.l. havn't only because i don' t want them to wear out. It 's time i did as my  pot holders  are torn and theTarget ones feel  like they'll  burn  if i  place them anywhere near the stove.Then again -i  only checked out the discount section of Target-where  you walk in and they have all these pleasing to the eye but cheap suff on display. I should check  the actual housewares section.[Theyre not as nice  lookng as the decorative cheap ones i think may be  the reason i have not  been tempted to go there] . 

Hi Peggy,  I hate to go all upscale on you, but both Gracious Home and Sur la Table seem

to have them; can't help with the candy canes though.

Given Pope Francis's call for an economy based on solidarity -- you have to go fair trade. 

These appear to meet your criteria:

I tried to stay "in house", but the Catholic Relief Service fair trade shop only has trivets and towels, no pot holders.

I found some of the old-fashioned square cloth types on Amazon, with a loop on one corner for hanging on a hook.  I also found some strange tweezer-like objects...oh wait.

Our pot holders are woven cotten in brilliant colors made on a square loom by the grandchildren when they were quite young.  But these are small so you always need a couple to get a roasting pan out of the oven.

I purchased a few several years ago on eBay.  Here's a link to a Buy-It-Now auction for two (2) pot holders for $4.32, shipping included.  Size:  7x7.   Variety of design and colors. Hope this helps.

Who needs a pot holder when they have a towel? Your daughter is giving you an impossible task. She doesn't want a pot holder. She wants you to spend fruitless hours in search of it, and if you find it, it'll be proof of your love for her.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
Without no seam nor needle work,
Then she'll be a true love of mine.

Tell her to find me an acre of land,
Between the salt water and the sea strand,
Then she'll be a true love of mine.


Re:  pot holders (knit ones, yet):


Certainly in Manhattan and environs there must be some crafts shoppes that support seniors that would sell hand-made ones.


Candy canes?  Us diabetics wouldn't be able to help you out there.

Maybe they're victims of the recession.  I think I've noticed stores stocking cheaper items than they used to just a few years ago.

Or maybe it's a cultural thing, like pajamas, which, alas, I've found only at Brooks Brothers.  My bank account was not happy about that, but we'll survive.

The pot holders I've seen in our kitchen look hand made, and probably are.  No idea where they came from.  The data source is asleep.

Of course, everything's available on the internet.  It's a little surprising that brick-and-mortar stores are still open.

You can buy a pot holder frame in a crafts store and get the colored bands to make you own.  Potholders as Christmas gifts should alwys be homemade.  

I am not a fuss about this, but homemade potholders lack the essential padding that protects the fingers and palms from burns when grasping hot pots and pans.

I am also not a fuss about the apparently overwhelming statistic (mirrored in the last three posts) that men seen to think handmade potholders are just the thing. I know there are some men who don't think that; they're just not posting at dotCwl.


I'm sure these men are offering some hand-made objects to their loved ones for Christmas as well, for example, say, hand-carved wooden figurines for Nativity scenes.

"hand-carved wooden figurines for Nativity scenes"

If Jerusalem is in anyone's travel plans, skip the usual kitschy tourist trap stores and head to the gift shop run by the nuns at St. Peter in Gallicantu, on the eastern slope of Mt. Zion (not far from the Jaffa Gate).  They have truly beautiful nativity sets made from olive wood ... no, not junk! ... that are hand-carved by artists who know how to (1) choose beautiful wood and (2) take advantage of the wood grain when deciding how to carve the figuerines.  The last time I was there (about 5 years ago) the sets were going for $35 each.

If you are going to be in Jerusalem, visiting the gift shop is well worth your time and money.

Do they have pot holders?


I am not a fuss about this, but homemade potholders lack the essential padding that protects the fingers and palms from burns when grasping hot pots and pans



Our handmade potholders are thick, sturdy things.  My wife uses them for large, very hot, iron pans.  When I asked her where she got them, though, she didn't remember.  Just  "various places".  We live close to Amish country, so it could be one or more came from there.

Search google for "amish potholders"

Are people really struggling to find candy canes?

Candy Cane issue resolved: I finally ordered candy canes on Amazon. I ordered a box and got six!

Can you freeze candy canes?

Pacaked candy canes stay good for years.

Thanks for the Amish site, David S.  Amazing how they have kept their sense of beauty in spite all the cultural opposition they've encountered.  Glorious colors!

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