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Hater's Guide

The 2023 Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog

12:26 PM EST on December 20, 2023

Dan McQuade/Defector with apologies to Williams-Sonoma

[Opens security gate]

You’ve arrived! Oh my stars, look at you! You look so HEALTHY! Who do you go to for Botox? Don’t tell me, don’t tell me! I’ll be too tempted to get more than I already have! Let’s not stay out in this cold. Come on up to the main house with me. Excuse the piddle stains on the hardwood; we got a new goldendoodle, and training Josten has been SUCH a nightmare. The breeder told us it’d be easy to housebreak him. Well, that was a big load of hooey!

Let me take your coat. Ginny is off today, so it looks like I’ll be the helper around here today. Actually, truth be told, Ginny hasn’t worked for us in quite some time. Oh, it’s been a hard year. Usually we’re quite sheltered from all of the trouble out there, with the Gaza and the fentanyl and what have you. But well, 2023…

Gaines had to come home early from Penn. Ugh, I’ve said it. It’s out there now. We haven’t really told people about it, but I suppose everyone was going to find out sooner or later. Once Diane Hoseman finds out, she’ll blab it everywhere. I don’t know … he was failing sociology, and then he was at some party and had too much of God knows whatever kind of sweetened malt beverage du jour they drink now. Probably something they bought at a convenience store.

[whispers] They pumped his stomach. Awful. Just awful.

Jeffrey says that he can get Gaines a job at the firm. But between us, the firm isn’t doing too well, either. Blackhaven dropped them as a client. That’s why no Ginny. That’s also why we couldn’t afford a flocked tree this year, just a plain Douglas fir. Truth be told, I hate it. We almost couldn’t afford Josten either, and I’m the only one who can take care of him because Jeffrey’s diverticulitis has taken on a life of its own. It’s all just very sad. I’m sad.

I suppose that’s why I invited you here. I know the main house isn’t what is usually is this time of year—we could only afford one buche de noel to adorn the sideboard—but I’m not going to let that get in the way of making merry. It’s Christmas, for God’s sake! We’re going to sing carols and eat Christmas cookies and smile our way back to the light. And I know just the thing to help us along our way:

That’s right. It’s our beloved Williams-Sonoma catalog. Look at it: So bright and golden and bubbly. The only piddling I see here is the best kind of piddling: a champagne coupe filled with sparkling Veuve, topped with a single, lanced blackberry. What more does one need to have a perfect Christmas?

I’m just kidding. I need a whole lot more random, expensive shit to make Christmas worth it. So let’s crack this puppy open and feast on its gilded innards. If Josten humps your leg, rest assured that we’ve had him fixed. He can’t finish!

ITEM #20-3491297 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA ORIGINAL PEPPERMINT BARK

Price: Starting at $29.95

Copy: “CELEBRATING 25 YEARS WITH A CHANCE TO WIN WITH EVERY TIN. Together with Visa, we’ve hidden over 1,500 winning tickets inside our 1-lb. Original Peppermint Bark tins, including a grand prize $1,000 Williams-Sonoma gift card. Brought to you by Visa.”

Drew says: If Willy Wonka were alive today, this is what his contest would look like. Instead of a golden ticket to a magical chocolate factory, you get a Visa gift card that lets you buy one-third of an artisanal chicken coop. Instead of Charlie Bucket winning the contest for his destitute family, every ticket is snatched up by MIT dropout Zachary Hampletonian using an algorithm he devised while sitting in a $600 beanbag chair at his office in Palo Alto. Zach then flips those tickets to sink $1.5 million into something called Rizzcoin. This sets into motion a butterfly effect that ends with a Ukrainian orphanage getting re-bombed with fentanyl-infused anthrax. Veruca Salt is then named CEO of X.

Here is where I note that this bark is fucking delicious. I may be a cynic, but I’m also fat.

ITEM #20-7400022 – SMEG SEMI-AUTOMATIC ESPRESSO MACHINE

Price: $899.95

Copy: “EXCLUSIVE white. (NOTE: I’ll say!) Elevate their espresso with an on-call barista that combines modern brewing with retro Italian style.”

Drew says: [Captain Hook voice] SMEG!!!! Please note that this is a semi-automatic espresso machine. That means that it allows for rapid-fire caffienation, and it won’t jam on you if you get into an extended coffeetime chat with an intruder. In fact, I suggest you sleep with this SMEG under your pillow. Because the only thing that can stop a bad guy with exquisite taste in Tuscan-style espresso is a moderate suburban Democrat with exquisite taste in Tuscan-style espresso.

ITEM #20-8145597 – FELLOW OPUS CONICAL BURR GRINDER

Price: $195.00

Copy: “Featuring a fully intuitive 6-bladed, stainless-steel conical burr set with power motor and 41 precision settings, its impressive engineering is paired with quiet, simple, mess-limiting operation to effortlessly raise the bar of your fresh coffee prep.”

Drew says: This is what we get instead of a flying car. We still have brilliant scientific minds roaming this planet, but all of them have been dragooned into engineering 700-horsepower, wifi-enabled burr grinders, paddlefish caviar farms, and exotic chanterelle foams for rich people who love expensive food but never actually eat it. This is bullshit. I just read a report that the planet’s average temperature will rise 15 degrees by next Sunday, killing the whole electric eel population. And you nerdlingers are sitting there going, “Fuck everything, we’re doing six blades”? This really grinds my burrs, “Fellow.” Go sit on something conical.

ITEM #20-9734439 – SODASTREAM E-DUO SPARKLING WATER MAKER

Price: $195.95

Copy: “Combining all the best elements of previous models, the E-Duo from SodaStream takes water carbonation to the next level. The innovative machine boasts a bevy of upgraded features, including one-touch electrical technology and three preset levels of fizz. The dual carbonation system works with both glass and plastic bottles (one of each is included) for the ultimate in versatility and convenience.”

Drew says: Oh, so it comes with one plastic bottle and one that breaks within a week of me buying it? You talk about convenience. And who doesn’t want to take their water carbonation to the next level? All this time I’ve been drinking club soda and thinking to myself, “This water is merely fizzy. Why is it not HELLA fizzy?” It’s about goddamn time I owned a $200 seltzer maker that can make that a reality, and can also whip me up some carbonated Hershey’s syrup for once in my life. I’m done fucking around.

ITEM #20-1399314 – JURA COLLECTION GIGA 10 FULLY AUTOMATIC ESPRESSO MACHINE

Price: $4,999.95

Copy: “A revolutionary cold-extraction process, a panoramic touchscreen control panel and two bean hoppers with separate burr grinders are just a few of the features that make this automatic espresso machine a true standout.”

Drew says: You hear that, Fellow? This motherfucker is FULLY automatic, and for just $4,100 extra! It’ll put a dozen Nespresso caps in your ass before you’ve even reloaded.

Here is where I note that Jura occupies the Most Expensive Item spot in this catalog on an annual basis, and that at least one of our readers—often many—is always like, “Seriously Drew, for real … we own one of these and it’s life-changing.” You know what’s also life-changing, reader? A hug. Hugs cost nothing. And if you think that hugs aren’t as valuable as a nice cup of coffee, then Jura real Grinch!

ITEM #20-9601959 – BALSAM HILL 8” SILVERADO SLIM FAUX TREE WITH CLEAR LED LIGHTS

Price: $1,499.00

Copy: “California-based Balsam Hill's Silverado pines emulate the bountiful foliage and rustic branches found in nature, with a slim silhouette that's perfect for compact spaces.”

Drew says: This is a perfect complement to the Christmas bow-topped Chevy Silverado waiting in the driveway as a surprise for your youngest, shittiest daughter. I bet her name is Graceley or something. Like the vanity pickup Silverado, this tree is obnoxiously oversized, simulates the rugged outdoors for people who spend the majority of their day in an office park, is hideously expensive, and occupies a carbon footprint the size of a Bhutanese crypto mine.

I also own a fake tree, mind you. This is because I am LAZY, and because getting a real tree into a stand was harder than losing my virginity. But if you buy this fake tree, you’re not being lazy. Quite the contrary. You’re making a concerted, and expensive, effort to match some “foliage” (only deciduous trees should be eligible to have foliage, dammit) with the stuffed moose head mounted over your fireplace. Somehow the American Dream went from “anyone can make it in this country!” to “let’s all get rich re-inventing the taxi and then spend our millions cosplaying as Teddy Roosevelt on a dodo hunt.” I wanna unload my Jura on these people.

ITEM #20-8292399 – SIMPLEHUMAN 4-L COMPOST CADDY

Price: $49.95

Copy: “The odor-minimizing caddy attaches to a magnetic dock that hangs at the side of your Simplehuman liner rim trash can, or you can detach it for use on your kitchen counter. .. the soft-seal lid lets food scraps breathe, minimizing odor and keeping pests like fruit flies away.”

Drew says: My wife and I are lifelong suburbanites, which means that we have attempted to compost on several occasions. Guess how much success we’ve had with these efforts? ZERO. I went into the composting world expecting to revive entire swaths of the Amazon rainforest by cultivating my own soil from discarded apple cores and uneaten Stoned Wheat Thins, only to end up with a pile of shit in a bucket on the patio. I’d have been better off flushing our banana peels down the toilet.

So I don’t care how much this glorified mailbox helps food scraps “breathe,” like a freshly uncorked 2006 Bordeaux. Using this to fertilize your used teabags will offset 0.0002 percent of the emissions you used buying your fucking Hummer tree. The only thing this caddy will be good for is when Aunt Phyllis comes to visit and needs an ashtray.

Note: There’s a Vitamix composter later in the catalog that costs $500, just in case you weren’t being conspicuously earthwoke enough.

ITEM #20-7281123 – AIRTENDER® ALL-IN-ONE ELECTRIC AIR PRESSURE AND VACUUM SEALER SET

Price: $499.95

Copy: “Surprise the mixologist on your list with a smart device that infuses, mixes, foams, and more. … This revolutionary electric model combines high air pressure and deep vacuum technology to preserve freshness, enhance flavors, aerate wine and more.”

Drew says: Finally, all of my homemade cocktails will have the one ingredient I’ve long sought: air. Because I always say to myself, “I wish I could make a cocktail that knew how to vape.” Well-hell-hell, now I can! One sip of my creamed martini and you’ll be instantly transported to the most overpriced hotel bar in Los Angeles. ALAKAZAM!

For real though, the whole mixology trend ended years ago. I know that we once lived through a dining revolution, featuring $30 mojito flights and small plate restaurants where every waiter looked like Jason Momoa. Then the pandemic came along and America was reduced to ordering sweet-and-sour pork from a ghost kitchen located in an abandoned Toys R Us and drinking whatever potato vodka was still available in the supply chain. We’re not jacking off to photos of Pappy Van Winkle bottles on Insta and buying $75 ice cube molds anymore. This is a new, and much more basic, era of foodie culture. I’m just glad I don’t have to make my own fucking bread anymore, so I’m not back in the market for infused food and drink. Just buy some hard seltzer like the rest of us, guys. Run it through your asshole Sodastream if it’s not properly fizzed enough for you.

Speaking of dead trends…

ITEM #20-5374069 – LE CREUSET ENAMELED CAST IRON 2.25-QT. FONDUE POT

Price: $380.00

Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE. Crafted in France, this cast-iron pot allows you to prepare the fondue on the stovetop then transfer the pot to its stand, where a burner keeps the contents warm so you can linger over the meal. It's ideal for gently heating cheese, chocolate, broth and oil fondues and includes an ergonomic handle designed for easy lifting.”

Drew says: Honestly, when’s the last time you had fondue? Was it on a ski trip with Leisure Suit Larry back in 1979? Did you fly Braniff to get there? How many fondue pots can be found lining the shelves at your local Goodwill? All of them? They don’t even give out fondue pots as consolation prizes on Wheel of Fortune anymore. We’ve passed the time where this thing even qualifies as a fun white elephant gift. It belongs in some file cabinet on Floor G6 of the Smithsonian, next to a busted ColecoVision. Get the fuck out of here. A $380 fondue pot. Jesus Christ. This is a gift for people who still get a thrill out of eating lunch at Cosi.

ITEM #20-4546671 – BOSKA CHEESE BOARD WITH KNIVES

Price: $139.95

Copy: “Over 100 years ago, Willem Bos started making tools for cheese farmers at his home near Gouda in the western Netherlands. Since then, family-owned Boska Holland has become the preeminent specialist in cheese tools. This set includes an oak cheeseboard and three knives for soft, firm and very firm cheese.”

Drew says: Why did they not teach me about William Bos in grade school? They taught me about Columbus and Lincoln and that one astronaut guy, but NOTHING about “The Bos,” the godfather of cheese farming. Inexcusable.

More important, cheese knives are bullshit. Absolute bullshit. You know how many stupid cheese knives I’ve gotten over the years? BILLIONS. Cheese knives are the perfect thoughtless gift because they cost $25 and have handles that come in fun shapes, like a Nantucket lighthouse. So you get them from your neighbor and you’re like, “Oh my god, these will be perfect for when I’m entertaining!” And then you put them in your laundry room and never see them again until you sell your house.

Because who really needs this shit? If I’m ever confronted by a particularly runny wedge of Camembert, I’m not like I CAN’T POSSIBLY CUT THIS, I NEED SOME KIND OF SPECIAL HYBRID OF BUTTER KNIFE AND MINIATURE SPATULA! I just grab a regular-ass knife and hey presto! Suddenly my crackers aren’t so lonely anymore. I can’t even murder anyone with a cheese knife. Useless.

ITEM #20-8714927 – NESPRESSO VERTUO CREATISTA BY BREVILLE

Price: $749.95

Copy: “A collaboration between the coffee experts of Nespresso and the engineering experts at Breville, the Vertuo Creatista elevates your milk texturing game with a range of cafe-quality drinks.”

Drew says: Here is where I disclose that I actually own a Nespresso machine, one made by Breville no less. I must also disclose that this machine would be the first thing I’d grab if my house were on fire. Even the dog would come in second. But that does NOT make me a hypocrite! I see you ready to stuff me into your Mercedes composter because I confessed to owning this product, but let me explain. First of all, the Nespresso I bought was cheaper than this one. Secondly, I recycle my used pods … by sealing them inside a complimentary UPS envelope and sending them 2,000 miles by cargo plane to Nestle’s recycling center, which is probably just a landfill. Finally, my milk texturing game has been ON POINT ever since I got one. I can’t go back to basic milk textures now! No one could!

Did I mention that I gave our Nespresso to my wife as a gift, because I love her? Bet you feel like a real asshole now, huh? How was I to know I’d fall in love with this machine myself, even though that’s exactly what happened before I got it when my best friend made me a late-night cup from his own Nespresso machine? Don’t you know how crazy love can be? I made a Melozio with my breakfast this morning and it was exquisite. I’ll fucking kill you if you take my Nespresso from me. God I want another coffee so bad right now. Where were we again? Oh yes, eat the rich. They’re all very bad.

Also, this year’s catalog is all just coffee shit! Where are the $50 marshmallows? You’ve changed, Williams-Sonoma.

ITEM #20-6680138 – OONI PIZZA OVEN & ACCESSORIES

Price: $999.95

Copy: “Forget delivery … satisfy pizza cravings with an oven that bakes a perfect pie, indoors or out.”

Drew says: OK, but delivery costs me $30. This thing costs even more than that breast pump for Negronis up above.

ITEM #20-8714927 – GREENPAN STANLEY TUCCI CERAMIC NONSTICK 6.5-QT. ESSENTIAL STANLEY PAN, CARRARA WHITE

Price: $199.95

Copy: “Stanley Tucci partnered with GreenPan™ to create a cookware collection from the ground up, focusing on innovations that take cooking to the next level. Made in Italy at GreenPan's high-tech facility, these pans blend refined architectural details with pioneering technology. This spacious pan is ideal for crafting meals for a crowd or cooking big cuts of meat.”

Drew says: True story: I’ve seen Stanley Tucci’s penis. In person. Hand to God. It was at a Broadway production of Frankie And Johnny At The Claire De Lune, and when the curtain went up, there was a naked Stanley in bed with an equally naked Edie Falco. Everyone could see his lil Tooch dangling right out! So anytime I think about Stanley Tucci now, I think about his penis.

And now you will, too. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Looking for a Christmas gift that isn’t a $5,000 milk frother? Well guess what? Defector is offering gift subscriptions starting at just $79 a year. Curated by the legendary Tom Ley® in his Adirondack workshop, every Defector subscription includes over 2,000 hand-crafted blogs, plus a tricky crossword puzzle to keep your house guests warm on a cold, cold winter’s morning.

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