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Measuring spoons from popular brands aren't accurate

Posted at 2:45 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-13 16:42:02-04

“Spoon-gate” began with salty cookies and the strong desire to prove my mom wrong.

On the afternoon all of my measuring illusions were shattered, I was making my famous chocolate chip cookies to give to our pet sitter for Christmas. These cookies are renowned among my friends for being perfectly salty and perfectly sweet. Yet the batch I made for our pet sitter tasted wrong. The cookies were too salty. Too flat.

My mom was sure that I had added too much baking soda or salt, but I knew that I had measured them correctly using my new gorgeous, copper-colored Sur La Table measuring spoons. Once my mom finally accepted that I knew how to measure, we decided to investigate. I became the Watson to her Sherlock Holmes.

After pulling out all of my measuring spoon sets from the drawer and comparing them to the Sur La Table spoons, we made the discovery that a few of the beautiful teaspoons were larger than they should have been.

I decided to reach out to Sur La Table to find out if they knew they were selling an inaccurate spoon set. To their credit, Sur La Table took my request seriously.

After measuring the spoons themselves, a spokeswoman said Sur La Table will be pulling the set from its shelves (indeed, they’re no longer available on the Sur La Table website).

“We try to be as vigorous in our testing as possible and are looking into the reasons why this may have gotten past (quality assurance) and into production,” Natalie Brown, a Sur La Table spokeswoman, said in an email to me.

This experience got me thinking: Are there other inaccurate measuring spoons out there? We all rely on our measuring spoons and cups to be accurate, but we rarely put them to the test.

In order to save you time and money, I reviewed some of the top brands from popular stores to help you know which spoons you can rely on in the kitchen and which are simply decorative.

My Testing Method

Of course, the first hurdle in testing spoon accuracy is finding a baseline. My left-brained husband smartly suggested I use a standard glass lab milliliter beaker. The realization that I would have to convert milliliters back to teaspoons was a little terrifying. Luckily, Google offers conversion calculators for those of us who never scored higher than a C in math class.

After a few hours of playing with the spoons, I discovered a few interesting similarities between all of the spoon sets. Almost every 1/4 teaspoon measured closer to a 1/3 teaspoon. Not one 1/4 teaspoon in any of the test sets was accurate.

Another surprising discovery was that charm and decor did not make for a less accurate spoon. In fact, the most accurate spoon set is shaped like carrots while another top-performing set is decorated with cute pictures of dogs.

In order to make allowances for human error, I decided that any spoons that fell within 5 percent of the indicated size would be deemed “accurate.” Any spoons that fell within 15 percent would “pass” my test. Additionally, I rounded to the nearest tenth of a milliliter for convenience.

All of the spoons that weren’t accurate are listed below, with my test results and the measurement indicated on each spoon for comparison. I also reached out to the various retailers and manufacturers mentioned in this story; some responded to my interview requests, while others did not (read more below).

Without further ado, I now present the Ultimate Spoon Test.

1. Sur La Table

The SpoonsCopper-Plated Measuring Spoons

Price: $20

The spoons that inspired this test caught my eye while I was at Sur La Table taking a soufflé class with my niece. Unfortunately, three out of four spoons in this chic-looking set are inaccurate. You also have to be very mindful of how you use and care for them. Sur La Table warns buyers on their website not to use them with acidic foods or put them in the dishwasher. As I bought my spoons in the store and, therefore, never saw these directions, I discovered the dangers of using copper-plating with acidic foods too late. Now, both the spoon set and the matching cup set are discolored and blemished—on top of being inaccurate.

The verdict:

Spoon: 1/4 teaspoon
Should be: 1.2 milliliters
Actual: 2.3 milliliters
Off by: 1.1 milliliters (91 percent)

Spoon: 1/2 teaspoon
Should be: 2.5 milliliters
Actual: 3.4 milliliters
Off By: .9 milliliters (36 percent)

Spoon: 1 teaspoon
Should be: 4.9 milliliters
Actual: 6 milliliters
Off By: 1.1 milliliters (22 percent)

2. Williams Sonoma

The Spoons: Carrot Measuring Spoons

Price: $24.95

These carrot-shaped spoons were surprisingly accurate with only one imperfect spoon. The 1/4 teaspoon was closer to a 1/3 teaspoon, but the other three spoons were on the nose. The spoons were surprisingly fun to use and easy to level. I was concerned that these charming orange ceramic roots would be too delicate for daily use, but they easily held up to this kitchen klutz without losing even a chunk of the dark green leaves that protrude from the top of the spoons. They would also serve as whimsical kitchen decor.

I reached out to Williams Sonoma for feedback on the one inaccurate spoon, but did not get a response. If I hear back from them, I’ll update this story.

The verdict:

Spoon: 1/4 teaspoon
Should be: 1.2 milliliters
Actual: 1.6 milliliters
Off by: 0.4 milliliters (33 percent)

3. T.J. Maxx

The Spoons: The Masterclass Bake Shop Measuring Spoons (found in-store only)

Price: $5.99

This affordable set had two spoons that were just slightly off the mark. Like many of the other sets, the 1/4 teaspoon actually held 1/3 of a teaspoon, while the 1/2 teaspoon was just slightly over the indicated measurement. Both the teaspoon and the tablespoon were exact. The set’s long, rounded handles and copper-colored spoons stood out due to their ease of use and would likely be a godsend to anyone who has difficulty gripping smaller objects. They are the least decorative of the sets I tested, but their size, price and durability will make them very popular in my kitchen. One thing to keep in mind with this set is that it is not dishwasher-safe, which is a slight mark against it in my book.

Andrew Mastrangelo, T.J. Maxx and Home Goods spokesman, said they will take a look at the spoons in light of my measurements.

“Our merchandise vendors represent and warrant that the goods they supply to us are genuine and in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and industry standards,” Mastrangelo wrote in an email to me. “We greatly value the trust our customers place in us, and if they have concerns about a product they purchase from our stores, they should contact our customer service department so that we can assist them.”

The verdict:

Spoon: 1/4 teaspoon

Should be: 1.2 milliliters
Actual: 1.8 milliliters
Off by: 0.6 milliliters (50 percent)

Spoon: 1/2 teaspoon
Should be: 2.5 milliliters
Actual: 2.8 milliliters
Off by: 0.3 milliliters (12 percent)

4. Bed Bath & Beyond

The Spoons: Kate Aspen “Love Beyond Measure” Measuring Spoons

Price: $3.49

This gorgeous heart-shaped spoon set from Bed Bath & Beyond would make a charming wedding gift for someone who orders out every night, but a bride or groom who bakes would find that only one of the spoons is totally accurate (though the 1/2 teaspoon was within 10 percent and, therefore, close enough to pass the test).

Like Sur La Table, Bed Bath & Beyond is choosing to pull the spoons from their website until the vendor can address the inaccuracies. Indeed, I found this note on the product page on the Bed Bath & Beyond website.

“We are sharing this information with the vendor so it can be investigated further,” spokeswoman Leah Drill wrote in an email.

The verdict:

Spoon: 1/4 teaspoon
Should be: 1.2 milliliters
Actual: 1.6 milliliters
Off by: 0.4 milliliters (33 percent)

Spoon: 1 teaspoon
Should be: 4.9 milliliters
Actual: 6 milliliters
Off by: 1.1 milliliters (22 percent)

5. Anthropologie

The Spoons: Painted Pup Measuring Spoons

Price: $20

These spoons are a personal favorite, thanks to their delightful doggie design. These stoneware spoons are a variety of colors with a different painted pooch on each spoon. This set doesn’t include a 1/4 teaspoon, opting instead for a 1/2 tablespoon. While their teaspoon and tablespoon were both accurate, their 1/2 teaspoon was slightly too big and the 1/2 tablespoon was quite a bit larger than the labeled size. The spoons are thick, but very delicate. They will likely break if not treated with extreme care. Due to its inaccuracy and delicate nature, this set would be best for animal lovers who simply want its whimsical design on display.

Anthropologie did not respond to my interview requests. If I hear back from them, I’ll post their response here.

The verdict:

Spoon: 1/2 teaspoon
Should be: 2.5 milliliters
Actual: 2.9 milliliters
Off by: 0.4 milliliters (16 percent)

Spoon: 1/2 tablespoon
Should be: 7.4 milliliters
Actual: 10 milliliters
Off by: 2.6 milliliters (35 percent)

6. Sur La Table

The Spoons: Odd-Size Measuring Spoons

Price: $16.00

Since a set of Sur La Table spoons inspired this quest to begin with, I wanted to test another set to see whether the issue was widespread or limited to one product. This set managed to redeem Sur La Table’s copper spoons. This odd-sized stainless steel set has a 1/8 teaspoon that was wide of the mark, but the only other inexact spoon was very close to being considered accurate by my measurements. The other two spoons fared much better. The 1.5 teaspoon was very close and the 2 teaspoon was dead-on. The set also includes one more spoon that I didn’t measure (even Google’s conversion calculator can’t estimate a “pinch”). This set has its place in the kitchen for bakers and chefs who tend to halve recipes and, therefore, will benefit from its odd-sized measurements.

Natalie Brown, the Sur La Table spokeswoman, said they will take a look at this spoon set and apply the same process as the copper spoons if the team deems it necessary.

The verdict:

Spoon: 1/8 teaspoon

Should be: 0.6 milliliters
Actual: 0.9 milliliters
Off by: 0.3 milliliters (50 percent)

Spoon: 2/3 teaspoon
Should be: 3.3 milliliters
Actual: 3.8 milliliters
Off by: 0.5 milliliters (15 percent)

7. Target

The Spoons: OXO Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons

Price: $6.99

The biggest surprise of this experiment was the fallibility of this stainless steel and plastic spoon set. I have relied on many wonderful OXO cooking products through the years, and I admit to assuming their spoons would pass with flying colors. Unfortunately, this set only had two accurate spoons. I have a lot of faith in this brand and hope this set is an aberration.

Joey Lozada, OXO’s representative wanted an opportunity to check my measurements, but he hadn’t yet gotten back to me by the time of publication. Lozada did say that OXO has “a dedicated inspection team that maintains our quality standards and practices so that all of our measuring products have a high-degree of accuracy.”

The verdict:

Spoon: 1/4 teaspoon
Should be: 1.2 milliliters
Actual: 1.6 milliliters
Off by: 0.4 milliliters (33 percent)

Spoon: 1/2 teaspoon
Should be: 2.5 milliliters
Actual: 3 milliliters
Off by: 0.5 milliliters (20 percent)

8. Kohl’s

The Spoons: Stonebriar Collection Ceramic Measuring Spoons

Price: $23.79 (on sale)

The final contestant is really a horse of a different color. The cute pie-shaped products that showed up at my door were advertised as spoons on the website, but were actually measuring cups (the product description even reads: “These colorful Stonebriar Collection ceramic measuring spoons will help you cook in style,” so who knows). I decided to test them anyway using a handy Pyrex glass measuring cup. While this multi-colored set looks delightful, not a single cup was close to accurate. In fact, almost all of them were half of the size advertised on the handle.

Interestingly, while these cups are labeled on Kohl’s website as being functional, a spokeswoman for the set’s manufacturer said the company knows the cups are not accurate.

“The spoons are meant to be decorative rather than used for cooking,” according to Sara Smith, CKK Home Decor spokeswoman.

The verdict:

Cup: 1/4 cup
Actual: 1/8 cup
Off by: 50 percent

Cup: 1/3 cup
Actual: 1/4 cup
Off by: 25 percent

Cup: 1/2 cup
Actual: A little less than 1/3 cup
Off by: About 40 percent

Cup: 1 cup
Actual: 1/3 cup
Off by: 67 percent

My Top Pick

Since I’ve spent a lot of time with measuring spoons in the last couple of weeks, I thought I’d share my favorite set: T.J. Maxx’s Masterclass Bake Shop Measuring Spoons. Despite this set having one spoon that was pretty off-the-mark, the sets’ accessibility won the day. These spoons are a blessing to someone like me who has difficulty gripping (and not constantly dropping) little things like spoons. The required hand-washing may become too much work for my lazy-bones approach to cleaning up, but the simple design, durability and price make them a required set in any kitchen.

The post We Tested 8 Measuring Spoons From Popular Brands To Check Their Accuracy—And You Might Want To Check Yours appeared first on Don't Waste Your Money.

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