Behind The Design: OXO’s Good Gravy Fat Separator
Words Lindsay Mecca
OXOnians spend a lot of time thinking about fat. How it can impact cooking times. How it affects cleanability. And, in this case, how it separates from cooking liquid to make Thanksgiving-worthy gravy.
OXO’s original Fat Separator is designed with a silicone stopper that plugs the end of its spout to create a pressure gradient that prevents fat from rising into the spout. When the stopper is removed after the fat separates, you can pour out the “good stuff” and the leave the fat behind.
This Fat Separator worked well, but at OXO we don’t rest on our laurels; instead, we wondered what else we could do to better the world’s gravy-making experiences. As usual, we started with feedback from our consumers.
One issue was that people lost the silicone stopper, because it wasn’t attached to the Separator. Pretty simple — that meant our next Fat Separator would have no loose parts.
We also heard a lot of love for the concept of bottom-pour separators but less love for the reality of using them. Many were messy and tough to clean. Many clogged easily at times and others leaked. Many had uncomfortable handles that became painful during repetitive use…for example, in making a batch of gravy for a holiday meal.
So, all we had to do was create a comfortable, easy-to-clean bottom-pour separator that released every last drop of good gravy (hence the name) without fat, leaks, clogs or mess. It was a tall order, but that kind of meaningful improvement is what OXO does best.
First, we focused on the valve, because that would solve leakiness and clogging. For this, we found inspiration in a clever – if slightly unappetizing – place: IV bags. IV bags can be opened and closed with a simple pinch valve, and there are no leaks or unwanted dripping. The valve in our Good Gravy Fat Separator features a unique design that that bends slightly during closing – like kinking a garden hose to stop the water; it requires little effort to pull but still forms a perfect seal. The result is an easy-squeezy, leak-free design.
Then came cleanability, since nothing is worse than fat and grease collecting in tiny crevices that can’t be reached (yuck!). To address this, we took the squeeze mechanism out of the equation – literally. The entire squeeze mechanism is completely outside of the product, meaning no part of it ever touches the grease inside and makes cleanup a breeze.
OXO is renowned for the comfort of its products, so we added our trademark soft, comfy, non-slip handle – now, making even the biggest batches of gravy is easy on wrists and hands.
And, like our original Fat Separator, we included a removable filter. We added a few more holes to the Good Gravy version to allow liquid to drain through, while still making each hole small enough to catch herbs and bits. As a nerdy bonus, the hole pattern represents a Fibonacci sequence…because why not?
To test, Patrick – an OXO Product Manager – and Mack – an OXO Engineer — needed grease, so they cooked more than six pounds of bacon. This grease was heated to various temperatures and given various thicknesses to evaluate the potential for leaks, damage and cleanability. Then, they chopped up most of that bacon into different-sized pieces, used – along with herbs, peppercorns and other bits – to test for clog-ability; no matter what they tried, because of the pinch valve, the Separator never clogged.
At the end of several weeks of testing, they were confident that they had created a better fat separator that would help people everywhere make delicious gravy…and truly live up to its name.
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