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Forget the quizzes, memes, incredible feature journalism, and addicting Facebook videos. BuzzFeed's latest plan to get you hooked is a Bluetooth-connected hot plate.
It's called the Tasty One Top, and it syncs up with BuzzFeed's hundreds of stylish recipe videos to help you properly prepare a meal. It's a surprising venture for BuzzFeed, but it's kind of a brilliant one given the immense popularity of its Tasty videos — those top-down, pristinely organized cooking videos that you've inevitably come across while skimming through your Facebook feed.
The One Top is shaped like a pentagon with soft corners. It comes in black or light blue (the light blue looks like it's designed to pop out in your Instagram pics and in future Tasty videos). And it has just three buttons: two for raising and lowering the temperature, and one for power. There are also some lights that'll indicate how hot the plate is and will blink to give you instructions. The product sells for $149 and is supposed to begin shipping in November.
Along with announcing the One Top today, BuzzFeed is also releasing a dedicated app for Tasty (iOS only for now, with an Android version coming "soon"). The app contains the more than 1,700 Tasty videos that are already out there. Ben Kaufman, leader of BuzzFeed's Product Lab, says the "vast majority" of those videos will be able to sync up with the One Top so that you can be led through a recipe step by step.
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Once you choose a video, the One Top will chime and ding to let you know when to move on to the next step. Once you do, it'll automatically bring the temperature up or down to the right point. The One Top is also able to be used in a manual mode, so you can just heat it up and cook however you want; you'll be able to remotely control it through the app, too.
"One of the things I don't love about the smart home market is that not everything needs to be connected, not every meal do you wanna do the fun stuff," Kaufman says. "So we wanted to make it really easy for people to turn the power on and cook freestyle."
The product is made in partnership with GE, which is responsible for a lot of the technology here — like One Top's ability to measure the temperature of a pan, rather than the hot plate surface itself. And Kaufman is by no means new to hardware: he founded Mophie and went on to start Quirky, the failed but inventive hardware startup that made a (not-very-good) Wi-Fi-connected air conditioner, and the smart home platform Wink (which spun out and is still going). BuzzFeed brought him and a handful of former Quirky employees on last October to start building products.
"Product Labs is following the BuzzFeed playbook of what makes great content," Kaufman says, "and then figuring out what those attributes are and translating them into the physical world."
His team has already made a Tasty cookbook, which sold over 200,000 copies, "homesick" candles that are scented like states, and a hot glue-style gun for cheese, called the Fondoodler. If you don't count the cheese gun, the One Top is BuzzFeed's first hardware product.
The promise of the One Top is letting you cook every recipe to perfection, by taking a lot of the variables out of your hands. That's not something that interests me personally — I've never really had issues with a gas cooktop, nor does my kitchen have room for another appliance — but I definitely know people who get nervous about cooking and want to do everything exactly by the book. Combine that with the fun of BuzzFeed's Tasty videos, and it's easy to see people enjoying this thing.
Of course, even with the One Top, it's hard to imagine anyone's home-cooked meal living up to the perfection of a Tasty video. As Pinterest Fails have taught us, bringing beautiful DIY projects to life is never as easy as it seems.