Is a cyber-fridge necessary?

Mr. Frank Lee
Marketing Manager
LG Electronics
Canada Ltd.

Dear Frank,
Caught a magazine review of your company’s all new, state-of-the-art Internet Refrigerator recently. Wow! Have I got this right? A refrigerator with a built-in computer that can hold a database of 300 recipes? And it’ll inform me of which ingredients I don’t have on hand? And I can then order the missing ingredients? From an online grocer? All without even leaving my fridge?

I also understand that I no longer have to worry about festering green furry mystery foodstuffs lurking at the back of the shelf. The LG Internet Refrigerator monitors the expiry dates of everything on the shelves and reminds me which things to eat before they go bad.

It says in the magazine article that your Internet Refrigerator’s got a built-in camera so I can leave video messages for the kids. And a built-in electronic calendar to alert me to “food events” like Lent, the weekly meat draw at the Legion and which day my vegetarian cousin is coming for dinner.

This is some machine, Frank – a refrigerator with a built-in television with satelte access. Not to mention an MP3 player with surround-sound stereo speakers. I haven’t even mentioned the tastefully inlaid colour touch screen so I can surf the Net or play online blackjack while I’m waiting for my coffee to … download, I guess.

You’re quoted in this article, Frank. It says: “Frank Lee, marketing manager for LG Electronics Canada Inc., says the LG Internet Refrigerator is more than a mere food-management system. He calls it ‘a communications centre.’”

Know what I call it, Frank? I call it the worst idea since the behind-the-back three-hook bra fastener.

At any rate, Frank, I’m way ahead of you. My refrigerator already IS a communications system. 

But let’s take it from the inside out. I figure that my fridge (six-year-old Maytag, $675) performs as well internally as your brand-new hi-tech job ($11,000 – are you serious?). Both units keep the butter firm, the lettuce crisp and the houseflies out. But it’s the outside of my fridge that kicks butt communications-wise. Check it out, Frank. Thanks to the miracle of fridge magnets, you can see a photo of my brother straddling his prized candy-apple red Kawasaki Drifter.

You can see my sister with her six kids and 19 grandkids all lined up and grinning in front of a stone wall in Rockwood, Ont. There’s a three by five glossy of the giant Russian sunflowers we grew in our garden last summer – 15 feet high with blossoms the size of hubcaps. I’ve got snaps from the fall fair and the big snowfall last January. And an X-rated one of Wally dropping his drawers to show off his patriotic red gotchies at last year’s Canada Day celebration. Here’s one of Lynne and me wearing hats made out of an inner tube and beach flotsam at that crazy karaoke party in Mexico last winter. 

Communications system? I’ve got my whole life stuck to my fridge, Frank.

There’s hard copy too – like the grocery list for Tuesday and a Xerox of my niece Ruby’s report card. I see a bill marked overdue from my friendly telephone company. And check out that drawing by the door handle: a nativity scene rendered on a serviette with a full palette of Crayola markers – a masterpiece crafted last Christmas by Owen, a visiting six-year-old.

I’m pretty sure it’s a nativity scene.

The point I’m trying to make here, Frank, is thanks but no thanks. I wouldn’t have your Brave New Fridge in my kitchen as a gift. Why? Well, for one thing I don’t want a refrigerator that’s smarter than me.

Number two, I’m not keen on owning a storage system in which I have to “enter” the contents twice – once physically and then again via a keyboard.

Number three: I’m just an old-fashioned guy at heart, Frank. Why would I want a refrigerator with a brain?

I’ve got one with soul.