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Crock-Pot tells ‘This Is Us’ fans: Our slow cookers won’t kill you

Poor Jack (Milo Ventimiglia). Even all the tools in his garage couldn’t save him from a faulty Crock-Pot. (Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

A friendly warning: Spoilerspoilerspoiler.

“This Is Us,” NBC’s award-winning blockbuster series, is known for its tear-jerking tendencies. Call it mawkish. Call it manipulative. The most cynical might call it emotional terrorism.

[You need a hug and a good cry, America, and that’s what ‘This Is Us’ was made for]

But now it’s come to, um, this? Culinary terrorism?

The show’s two-season path to revealing how — spoiler reminder! — patriarch Jack died firmly placed the blame in Tuesday’s episode on a faulty secondhand slow-cooker, the humble, downright beloved American appliance.

[‘This Is Us’ just revealed another major clue about Jack’s death. Here’s everything we know so far.]

As my colleague Elahe Izadi summarized:

Crock-Pot understands the concerns brought up by last night’s episode of “This Is Us,” and we too are heartbroken by the latest development in Jack’s storyline. However, it is important that our consumers understand and have confidence that all Crock-Pot slow cookers exceed all internal testing protocols and all applicable industry safety standards and regulations as verified by independent third-party testing labs. For nearly 50 years with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode. In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible.
In addition, and most relevant to the concerns consumers are having after watching the recent “This Is Us” episode, our Crock-Pot slow cookers are low current, low wattage (typically no more than 200 or 300 watts) appliances with self-regulating, heating elements. The product is designed to cook foods over a longer period of time at low temperatures and the switches connect to only one side of the power line voltage, so there is never a high voltage applied directly across our switches. The switches within our slow cookers are subjected to additional internal testing, which includes a Rotary Knob Endurance test, Rotary Knob Force Test and Flame Burning Test and constructed of self-extinguishing, flame resistant material.
Our hope is that the team at NBC’s “This Is Us” will help us in spreading factual information regarding our product’s safety. While we know their primary mission is to entertain — something they have continued to excel in — we also feel they have a responsibility to inform. Just like many fans, we will be watching next week’s episode to see how Jack’s story progresses and, regardless of the outcome, we want consumers first and foremost to know they are safe when using their Crock-Pot.

Somebody buy them some flowers, please.

Fogelman seems to have a bit of a thing for cooking tools. He also wrote the screenplay for “Tangled,” in which Rapunzel wields a frying pan — cast-iron, we’d say based on sound and appearance — as a weapon. Y’all didn’t throw out your Lodge skillets then, huh?

Crock-Pot and other slow cooker manufacturers have spent decades trying to persuade people that it’s okay to leave the appliances on for long periods of time unattended. (Frankly, the prospect of undercooked food is what gives me the heebie-jeebies even more, but the USDA has a handy tip sheet if you’re in the same camp.) Good luck now, guys!

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a page on which it has collected slow cooker safety recalls, at least as far back as 2003. Two that mention a fire hazard were tied to control panels that could overheat and melt; another pegged improperly installed wiring as the culprit. No injuries — and certainly no massive conflagrations or fatalities! — were reported as a result of fires (and just one resulted from a shock in the case of the bad wiring). More burn injuries were reported in recalls for appliances that suffered from broken handles.

We doubt that would have made for dramatic TV.