Requiem for a Thermapen

I think my expensive, well-loved kitchen thermometer has had the radish.

While making bread this past week, I tried to measure the temperature of the milk and to my finger it seemed warmer than the 80 degree reading.  I checked the hot water coming out of the tap…hmm 110 degrees, I think it should be around 125 degrees.  Then I tried our fridge…58 degrees.  I would know if our milk was 58 degrees, I like it icy.  The final test came by just setting it on the counter.  There is no way our house is 76 degrees.

Something was wrong with the thermometer!  So I did what everyone does in an emergency, I went on-line.

There I found the home calibration procedure for my thermapen.  Easy-peasy.  Expose the calibration screws, dip it in ice water and turn the screw so it reads 32 degrees.  Dip it in boiling water, turn the other screw so it reads 212 degrees, and we should be back in business.

The ice water reading was about 35 degrees, so I turned the screw to read 32 degrees.  Great!

The boiling water reading was around 180 so I turned the screw but was unable to get it to read 212 degrees.  Huh. Tried again.  More turning.  Huh, no luck.

I stopped trying to calibrate it and took a close look at the thermometer.  In the jaunty red plastic body near the probe there was a nasty little split.  Oh no!  I think the steam of the boiling water warped the plastic case while I was trying to calibrate it.

So again, I dashed on-line to check the warranty information.  Out of luck, only one year.

I bought this thermometer about 6 years ago, after a long rationalization, at the King Arthur Baker’s Store in Norwich, Vermont.  I needed the long rationalization because although I was sold on the quality of the thermometer, it was pricey.  Very pricey.  A luxury even.  Luxurious?  Useful, I will pay for but, luxurious?  I have a problem with luxurious.  Maybe it’s the Yankee in me, but luxurious somehow makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

But it was supposed to be the Cadillac of kitchen thermometers.  And how much had I already spent replacing cheap grocery store thermometers that always seemed broken just when I needed them the most?  And if I bought it here, it would not only be a wise purchase by an obviously dedicated home baker who knows quality when she sees it, but also a memento of my first visit to the mecca of home bakers.

As I muttered to myself walking around the store, I didn’t see any thermapens.  I circled around again.  Nothing.  Finally, I broke down and asked someone.  I am like a lost man driving when it comes to asking for help in a store.  I will find it myself, thank you very  much.

The nice lady told me, “Oh yes, we keep them in the back.  I’ll get one for you.”  They keep them in the back.  Because they are so precious!  I am not sure I can do this.

I flashed back to when I was a kid sent to Bud’s Market for saffron.  At Bud’s the saffron was kept behind the counter because it was so expensive and could be easily stolen by jonesing risotto junkies. Same thing for illegal fireworks; I bought those as a kid at Owen’s Market.  You had to ask Mr. Owen at the counter, and if you were brave enough to do that, and had $2, you could get a string of fifty little firecrackers.

The woman brought me the thermometer and there was no way I could leave it at the store.

We  had a lot of good times together, my thermapen and me.  Oh, we had our rough patches too.  There was the time I got it a little wet (the new models are splash-proof), and in a huff of indignation it refused to show me anything at all on the display.  But after removing the battery and a gentle air-drying, all was forgiven.

And now this.  I suppose I will write Thermoworks with my tale of woe, but I am afraid I will be out of luck.  I won’t be able to bring myself to spend the cash to replace it.  It didn’t last long enough.  It was a little fussy.  I don’t really need a 3 second read-time or pinpoint accuracy for the cooking I do.

I need something a little less luxurious and a little more dependable.  A little more Yankee.


10 responses to “Requiem for a Thermapen

  1. Perhaps your Loyal Readers might contribute to a Thermopen Replacement Fund…

  2. Bert, I’m afraid it might all fall to you O Loyal Reader…
    (note lack of “s”)

  3. Oh what a lovely Valentine’s gift from Bert! (You’re not expecting things like this from all of your loyal readers, are you? If this is the case, why don’t you do a post about cotton balls or something…I can handle that!)

  4. I may be able to hook you up with a few extra eggs…do a post on them:)

  5. Chris,
    Maybe your beloved Thermapen hasn’t quite had that radish yet! There’s nothing more Yankee than life-extending repairs, right? We’ve fixed Thermapens that were melted to the dome of a grill, we can probably fix yours, plus we’re really nice (see ). Give us a ring or email us ( Most repairs are less than the cost of one of those cheaper kitchen thermometers you’d buy to replace it (luxury has its advantages!).

  6. Thermapens are NOT waterproof, they are advertised as splashproof……BIG difference.

  7. Thanks Tim. That is an important distinction. I’ve edited the post from waterproof to splash-proof. Thanks for the comment.

  8. Pingback: Thermapen Conundrum | :: Had The Radish ::

  9. Pingback: Contest: Win A Repaired Thermapen! | :: Had The Radish ::

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