3 Big Appliance Flops


We are all the time bombarded by manufacturer’s and retailers about the latest and greatest new products that we should buy. They always tell us how great they are, how much energy they are going to save us and how much faster they are going to do their job not to mention how much easier it is going to make our life. Well, that just isn’t always the truth. Sometimes manufacturer’s come up with these products and they ended up being flops. I found an article by Art Johnson that identifies 3 of these products that were taunted to make our lives easier but for whatever reason, they just didn’t turn it that way. Hopefully, you didn’t end up with one of these appliances. Read on to find out what these appliances were:

Three Appliance Industry Epic Failures

During a career in the major appliance industry I’ve witnessed the introduction and growth of many great new products such as microwave ovens, convection ovens, induction cooktops, steam washers and dryers, french door refrigerators, and professional ranges for the home.

There have been a number of product flops, too. Here are three notable failures over the last two decades.

Whirlpool Polara Refrigerator/Range

Polara Range

Whirlpool’s Polara represents an idea whose time never came. The idea was that you could take a roast from the fridge in the morning, pop it in the Polara where the roast would be kept cold by the Polara’s refrigerator coils. At the appropriate time the refrigeration unit would shut off and the heating unit would kick in to cook your roast so that it would be ready just in time for dinner.

Alas, consumers were underwhelmed by this product. The operation of the Polara was far from intuitive. Over the years, consumers have shown that they have no patience for products with a steep learning curve. In addition, the Polara was fraught with service problems. Perhaps, the coupe de gråce was Whirlpool’s decision to give the product a somewhat futuristic design, ignoring the fact that kitchen appliances need to fit in the kitchen, not in a spaceship.

Maytag Drying Center

Dryer Cabinet

Even though focus groups loved this idea (one particpant actually got out her checkbook), sales never met expectations on this traditional tumble dryer with an innovative, drying cabinet attached on top. Damp clothing hung on the drying rack inside the cabinet would be gently shaken as warm air circulated through the cabinet. Blouses, shirts, and sweaters dryed without tumbling and without wrinkling. In addition, the drying rack could be used to refresh sports coats and slacks, extending the time between dry cleanings.

Unfortunately. the drying cabinet did not fit in all laundry rooms. It was a few inches wider than standard dryers, and the extra height of the drying cabinet could not be accomodated where there were shelves or cabinets above the dryer space. Since we tend to view the dryer as a companion piece to the washer, sales and marketing resources never seem to be devoted to dryers as a separate item.

Jenn-Air Accellis 5XP

Accellis Oven

Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, the microwave oven was the hottest (no pun intended) appliance in the country, but microwave ovens have two major flaws. Foods cooked in microwave ovens don’t brown, and they tend to dry out food, especially breads or baked products. One solution to this is to use “air-impingement” technology as a substitute and a supplement to microwave power. Pre-heated air is forced through small holes at a high speed. Along with microwave power, this system heats food quickly, allows browning, and keeps food moist. The Jenn-Air Accellis 5XP was an early example of this technology.

The Accellis 5XP had a space age, Jetson-like look. It was extraordinarily noisy, and unreliable. In addition, Jenn-Air did not size the Accellis 5XP to fit in standard cabinet dimensions. Developed as a joint-venture with TurboChef, Jenn-Air soon decided to beat a hasty retreat, buying back the few Accellis 5XPs that had been sold. TurboChef went on to successfully market their version of air-impingement speed cooking to the commercial market where it can be seen today in Subway restaurants and Starbucks throughout the country. TurboChef has also introduced a double oven for the home.

Each of these three products had fatal flaws. None of them received the marketing investment and attention that would make them a game changer, even if they weren’t flawed. In future blogs, we’ll cover appliance technologies and innovations that have merit, but need either more development or better marketing to succeed. We’ll also discuss some old products that are no longer available, and we feel should be re-introduced.

Can you think of any innovative appliances waiting to be discovered, or older products that you’d welcome back? Your comments are welcome.

Best Wishes as you “Travel The Road To Success”
“DependableDon” Harris
Founder: Appliance Service Secrets

Don Harris owned and operated his own appliance services business in Atlanta, Ga for over 45 years. In 2014 he sold his business, Dependable Services, to his son Brannon. Dependable Services currently operates 18 service vehicles and has 38 employees, providing services for heating and air conditioning, residential appliances, restaurant equipment, commercial refrigeration and water heaters to the metro Atlanta area. Don acquired the nickname “DependableDon” because of his reputation of being there when he said he would be there and doing what he said he would do. Don now spends his time coaching and consulting other businesses in the Appliance and HVAC industry.

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