Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, Rosie Lea"*

When I went off to college, back in the early 90s, the school sent out a list of suggested items for students to bring with them for their dorm rooms (along with a list of banned items: like hot plates or lamps with halogen bulbs). One of the items on the list was a "hot pot". My mom ended up getting me something she thought was better than a hot pot: an electric tea kettle. More importantly, it was a Russell Hobbs electric tea kettle. Now I was a little disappointed about this first year because 1. I wanted to have what everyone else had and 2. all it could do was boil water (you couldn't make macaroni and cheese in your room with an electric tea kettle.) So I made a lot of tea, hot chocolate, instant coffee, and Ramen noodles in a cup instead and had to go eat my macaroni and cheese in the dining hall. (This was a wise move in the long term.)

By junior year, I was really happy to have my electric tea kettle. I had a core group of friends; I felt a lot more comfortable with myself; and everyone liked tea and hot chocolate while watching tv. I had grown to love that little kettle and was actually really grateful to my mother for buying it for me. It had become essential to my college experience. After I graduated from college and Sister K was about to "go up", I handed down the trusty Russell Hobbs kettle to her. Sister K and her friends LOVED the kettle. They referred to it by the name "Russell Hobbs" and acted like it was their own mascot. When one unfortunate person, thinking it was a regular kettle, put Russell Hobbs on a stove top, his little plastic feet were melted off. After this incident, Russell was promoted for bravery under fire to "Lt. Colonel Russell Hobbs".

Lt. Colonel Russell Hobbs managed to survive to the end of Sister K's undergraduate career and on through Sister B's sophomore year, but sometime after that he went missing, presumed dead. We last heard that he was buried (with full honors) somewhere in the Connecticut River Valley. While K had Russell, I had bought a Russell Hobbs of my own, but he wasn't nearly as well made as his predecessor and ended up needing to be replaced a couple of years after purchase. (It was under warranty, so I got a replacement from Russell Hobbs, but then that replacement kettle died too.) I ended up switching brands and going with a Breville electric kettle, which has served me well for a number of years now (although the top is no longer permanently attached to the kettle, but that comes with a lot of use.).

At this point in life, I can't imagine NOT having an electric kettle in my house, and I have given them out as housewarming gifts to several friends. (They heat up fast and shut off when the water is boiled: what's not to love?) I was sad to read recently that Russell Hobbs products are no longer being made in Britain, but I will always remember that first little Russell Hobbs kettle fondly (Sister K does too).

*lyrics from "Have a Cuppa Tea" by The Kinks


  1. Will you still be my friend even if I make tea in the microwave?

  2. I will. Actually, I was thinking about you making tea in the microwave while I was writing this. :)

  3. Melanie, I LOVE kettle stories! I always sort of wanted a Russell Hobbs myself, but since I grew up with a kettle on "the hob" (gas stove) I didn't want to change the family tradition. But I bought one for an office I worked in years ago. It was either that or the microwave, and I wasn't having any of that!



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