March 9, 2005
Fondue has had more comebacks than Cher.
The fashion-conscious hostess has moved those distinctive pots in and out of storage since the menu item became a pervasive American fad in the late 1960s.
Might as well keep them out. Fondue is fun.
"A lot of people have made (fondue) a part of family traditions," says Daina Hunt, director of management for local Melting Pot restaurants, a national chain built on an American fondness for the dish.
For most of us, this delectable meal of melted cheese — "It should be the consistency of warm honey," says Hunt — means a romantic dinner or special occasion. Because fondue, despite its grammatical classification as a noun, morphs into an action verb on the dinner table. Sure, it’s self-serve, but lively social interaction is built in when everybody is dipping from the same pot.
Jacob Maurer, an associate national buyer for the Sur La Table chain of culinary equipment stores, says fondue pot sales have been brisk for several years, but really picked up in 2004 because of a modified product. Affordable, attractive and relatively trouble-free electric fondue pots, which offer a versatility that the sometimes equally pricey nonelectric versions don’t, have more than doubled sales of this particular item, he said.
The heat source is adjustable, allowing the pots to be used for a range of dishes — from chocolate fondues that require low temperatures to the oils and broths that need more than a tea light or very often canned heat sources to cook meats correctly. "It’s just really convenient," says Maurer.
Fondue also has a high impressed-guests quotient, says Hunt. "Especially the chocolate fondue."