Not Martha

thing I like: Scanpan

Years ago I received a Scanpan 8-inch frying pan as part of some conference* schwag**. Sometime after that our regular small nonstick frying pan finally went to the cookware grave and we pulled out the Scanpan. We were pretty darn impressed with it’s nonstickablility and how easy it made it to cook an over-easy egg just right every time so we continued to use it. For four years. I’m just now taking note of how awesome it is. The pan is easy to use, it’s easy to clean, nothing ever sticks, it holds up to my clumsy handling and stacking beneath dirty dishes and, despite four years of near daily egg cooking, you have to look really close to see any scratches. Thumbs up.

I have to say though, when I went to find our pan over at Amazon I was a little aghast at the price ($120, on sale for $90). And then I thought a little bit about the psychology of how we value things, or fail to value them if they’ve been handed to us. And then I thought about all the nonstick pans we’ve owned that came before it, inexpensive numbers that scratched easily and flaked horrifyingly after only a few years. Each of those was $10 to $20 and, had we been more responsible, we’d have replaced after a year of use. (And then I thought about the Great Toxic Teflon Freakout of 2008ish and did a bunch of reading which made me conclude that I am not qualified to defend nonstick but I am confident that I’m not poisoning myself.) Added up the Scanpan has nearly already been worth the price tag and I anticipate it going strong for another four years. So if you know you’re going to use it well and you have the cash, Scanpan is worth it.

* It was a hefty bag of free items that has since become the stuff of legend. I am pretty sure it was the first International Food Bloggers Conference, but not absolutely certain. I do know that I paid to attend said conference so this wasn’t a case of a blogger getting free stuff just because.

** Let’s discuss swag vs. schwag. I have a personal preference to use the word schwag because one of my theater professors in college was known to have occasional emotional outbursts over off-topic irrational things while teaching class and one of those that I had the privilege of being present for was a rant over the use of the word swag. He said: swag is used to describe the way that one drapes a curtain, schwag is the free stuff you get at a conference. The end. And so, because I believe he can still see into my very thoughts, I use the word schwag.

· comments [23] · 01-15-2014 · categories:food · shopping ·

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mar // Jan 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    I am ***soooo*** glad to hear you say that you think “schwag” is right too! I can only think of curtains everytime I hear/see swag! Let’s make this a think, ‘k?

    And I agree you’re right about the pan/value over years thing. Invariably, I’m in a budget crisis whenever I have to replace one of those things, and I always have a hard time justifying the big outlay.

  • 2 megan // Jan 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    mar – I’ve been looking to replace a 2 quart saucepan for a while now, over a year. Our old one was burned on the stove (not my fault this time!) but I’m stuck in the worth it/price vortex. I really have to take my own advice here and pony up for the one I want since I find myself wishing I had it about once a week!

  • 3 Amanda // Jan 15, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Yes, but SWAG is an acronym for “stuff we all get.” So, Not schwag.

  • 4 megan // Jan 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Good point.

  • 5 KC // Jan 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Re: saucepan: I dearly, dearly love RevereWare copper bottomed saucepans, especially the older ones (the newer ones are ever so slightly thinner). But you can char something onto the bottom of the pan… and clean it off and it’s basically as good as new (unlike the “core of x metal” saucepans where they melt weirdly and then are forever after either cracked on the bottom or uneven inside or both, and unlike nonstick saucepans where if you boil them dry, hello toxic fumes). And the bottom of the pan heats really evenly, and the edge corner is curved just right for our pointier whisk (so, no hot spots or lumps in roux/white sauce).

    Anyway, garage sales, estate sales, eBay, or new. All good.

  • 6 diane // Jan 15, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Schwag. “Stuff we all get” was someone’s after the fact excuse for saying it wrong.

    I love my hard anodized pans – caphalon I think. All of the sizes cook really evenly and are pretty heavy, but I admit I have never charred anything on to them really good like I have in my (40+ yr) old farberware pans. Once I burned a pot of rice so well that I had to take it over to my friend’s house and use the sand blaster on it. On the plus side, it now has a beautiful satin finish :)

  • 7 Jen // Jan 15, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Looking stuff up on wiktionary is pretty weak as etymological research goes, but based on, I have a feeling “swag” as freebies (etymology 3, usage 2) derives from British thieves’ slang (etymology 3, usage 1.)

    Words that being with “sch” often come from yiddish, but I’m unable to find any evidence that schwag has a yiddish origin. Wiktionary has no etymological info for it. I’m inclined to believe people were playing with the word swag to make it sound like a word of yiddish origin.

  • 8 Jessica // Jan 15, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I have this pan too but we hate it. Water seeps into the handle when it gets washed. Then, when the pan is heated, the water heats up and dribbles/spritzes out of the handle. I avoid using it and have considered just throwing it away.

  • 9 kairu // Jan 15, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    I have this pan (or something similar), too, and I LOVE it. I think I paid about $80 at Sur La Table, and I use it a lot. For me, the main thing is that it’s hard to find ceramic nonstick pans that are induction-friendly, so unfortunately I *do* have to buy the spendier pans. However, my current (traditional) nonstick pans are Le Creuset, and they seem to be holding up better than their cheapo Costco predecessors, so I’ll just keep using them until they start to scratch or flake.

  • 10 Patr // Jan 16, 2014 at 8:35 am

    I’m a All Clad fan – so I understand spending $120 on a pan that will last 4 – 8 – 12 years. In cookware – you get what you pay for – especially in fry pans.

    Why is it we will spend $200, $300, $400 and up on a TECH item (phone, pad, computer) -> but have sticker shock when we go to buy a pan? I mean – you use a PAN to COOK what you CONSUME into your body – FOOD is an essential for LIFE – Tech is not (and I work in IT!!!).

    That’s just my little soapbox.

  • 11 megan // Jan 16, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Jen – the school in question was just outside of NYC so it might also be a regional thing – ?

  • 12 Linda L. // Jan 16, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    My vote goes definitely to schwag.
    I love ‘schwag’ – it just sounds so much like the freebiness of what it defines. ‘Swag’ for me conjures up curtains or Waltzing Mathilda’s swag-man.

  • 13 elisa // Jan 17, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I have been reading your reviews of items, craft projects, etc. for several years. I like how you deliberate over the items. I have tried a few things. I bought Calphalon pans (less expensive or on sale because I knew I wanted good pans, but I was probably going to beat them up and do pretty much) I agree that you should give some thought into what you want, how you are going to use it and invest more mindful in something that best fits your want and need.

  • 14 megan // Jan 17, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Elisa – thanks! I think I found a saucepan that I want is finally on sale on Amazon, and it’s Calphalon.

  • 15 megan // Jan 17, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Linda – thank you! I’m excited to hear that this is more of a dividing line than I thought it was.

  • 16 Lilly // Jan 18, 2014 at 11:45 am

    It’s so great to get 4+ year recommendations for nonstick pans. The Amazon reviews tend to be so recent and we’d like to know if we’re gonna spend $xxx on nonstick that it’s going to last.

  • 17 Barry // Jan 18, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Scanpans are fantastic. I own five in differing sizes. They hold up well, perform excellently and are not terrible for you like Teflon pans. The true takeaway from this post should be that somewhat more expensive items can last longer and are better for you which means they are of better value. Boiled down, spend more money on quality when you can.

  • 18 Page // Jan 19, 2014 at 12:11 am

    We have 4 Scanpans and love them all (wok, small skillet, large skillet, 3qt saucepan). They take a ridiculous beating and wear like iron. We dented one somehow and the company replaced it with no questions, 4 years after we had purchased it. I also have a full set of All-clad, some Le Creuset and some cast iron, but I return to none as much as these pans.

  • 19 Page // Jan 19, 2014 at 12:12 am

    @ Lilly- we’ve had our small skillet for 10+ (iI really think 15??) years. It’s still going strong.

  • 20 Julie // Jan 20, 2014 at 11:54 am

    BEST. BLOG. EVER. Simply based upon your two asterisks at the end of your post. Oh my, how I love your writing style! You are so witty and fun, and even if I didn’t get great tips and ideas from your blog, I would still read it. Kudos! PS I’m checking out the scanpan on Amazon right now.

  • 21 megan // Jan 24, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Thanks for the added recommendations, I’ve just got the one small pan so I’m glad to hear the other sizes wear just as well.

  • 22 bari k // Jan 24, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Oh we still say schwag over here. Usually Schwaggy schwag or something equally silly. I never really thought about why, but if I for instance refer to it in front of my mom will say swag like that’s the good and proper way. I don’t know, maybe “show swag” morphed into schwag? I produce corporate meetings now (so many conferences) and peeps at work often say show swag. I’m going to be listening the next time I’m out on a show. Cute blast from the past!

  • 23 Ellen // Jan 27, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I love my calphalon whose price made me hyperventilate when I bought them, but I also love Lodge cast iron which is much cheaper and will last forever. The vintage pieces are just as good as our newer items.

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