Why I Own a Stupid Fridge: or Beware of the Hidden Hacker Dangers of a Smart Fridge!

I’ve always owned a Stupid refrigerator. It’s an amiable machine however, so it has never bothered me unduly. Today I discovered it’s actually the unrecognized hero of my kitchen. Here’s why I own a Stupid fridge and why you should too, if you want to thwart the evil-doers who want to hack into your Smart fridge and ruin your life.

What Is a Smart Fridge Anyway?

My definition of a Smart fridge is one that

  • Has mechanisms to make ice cubes or ice water
  • Has gadgets like a compartment with a *heater* in it to keep the butter warm and soft
  • Has a computer in it
  • Has a LCD screen on it
  • Is WiFi enabled
  • Tells you what food is inside and when it will expire

Here’s why I don’t need one.

I Am Quite Capable of Cracking Ice Cubes Out of a Tray

I’ve never understood the appeal of fridges that can dispense ice cubes (and ice water!) from a mechanism on the outside of the door.

Firstly, I am not yet feeble, despite what my children think, and I am quite capable to twisting an ice cube tray to crack out the cubes. Those old aluminum trays with the lever might be a bit of a challenge now but I could probably win a wrist-wrestle with one of them. I’m even dexterous enough to dump the tray over the ice bin without losing most of the cubes all over the floor.

So why do I need a dispenser to pop tiny ice cubelets out into my glass?

For those who say it’s to save room in their freezer, well, ok. I have a feeling you’re losing space in your fridge that is being used to house the ice-dispensing mechanism in the door, though.

I have one of those “you can hide 3 bodies in it” size freezers in the basement. There’s no point in trying to get rid of it, either, as it appears they framed in the house after they carried it down the stairs. The only way it’s coming out is in small metallic pieces.

Why Do You Want a Heater in your Fridge?

Personally, I really have to question who wants to heater to run inside of their refrigerator to keep the butter warm enough to spread.

I really thought this idea was a joke when I first read about it, but it’s true. You can use extra electricity to heat part of your fridge to keep the butter warm while using still more extra electricity to run the additional cooling required for the rest of the fridge to keep the warmth escaping from the butter compartment from heating up and spoiling your milk.

The Fewer Gadgets a Fridge Has the Fewer Breakdowns Will Annoy Me

My personal theory of home appliances is that the simpler they are the longer they take to break down. This is why our coffee machine doesn’t make espresso-lattes and our computer runs on Linux.

I have a friend who got one of those fridges that dispenses ice water. Do you want to know how long it was before she had a fridge that was leaking water onto her hardwood kitchen floor? (Yes, there are two things in her kitchen that I wouldn’t buy.)

I have 2 slender jugs of water in my fridge. One is icy cold ready to pour into a glass loaded with my freshly-torqued ice cubes. The other is getting cold again. Yes, we have school-age children. Yes, they found it possible to grasp the concept “finish all the water in the jug in the front first and then refill it and push it to the back”—by the beginning of kindergarten. (Admittedly, some spouses may be harder to teach.)

Our Stupid Fridge

Our fridge doesn’t really do anything. It just sits there, humming quietly to itself when it gets bored. It doesn’t email me to buy milk. It doesn’t report me to Weight Watchers when I buy Red Bean Paste Tartuffo. It just keeps my ice frozen and my food cold.

The Secret Danger of Smart Fridges

I hadn’t really thought that by buying a Stupid fridge I was saving my family from financial disaster. Apparently, though, I unwittingly have done just that.

According to a story on the CBC news website, Kevin Haley of Symantec Security Response said that internet-connected home appliances “will become a “magnet for hackers.””

Cue the ominous music soundtrack.

The article continues to say that Fortiguard adds hackers may be able to get information about who is home at a given time of day…”This is bound to give cybercriminals new and nefarious ideas around how and when to rob someone’s home.””


And here I thought hackers spent their time breaking into big stock brokerages and banks and then rearranging the balances in their personal accounts. Or releasing millions of pages of documents showing that CSIS agents really don’t get paid enough. Or trying to track down cyber-criminals who torment youngsters and releasing their id information for the police to catch them.

Who knew they wanted to know when my milk expires?!

Only a few of my readers (hi, Mom!) are old enough to remember the dreaded “Year 2000 bug.” For those who do, the fear factor of having a Smart fridge is probably right up there with the fear your toaster wouldn’t pop on 00-01-01:00:01.

Still, if it will keep people from over-investing in a fridge, I’ll plug this angle too. Buy a Stupid fridge. They are cheaper. They will likely last longer. And you will thwart evil hackers thus ruining their Tuesday morning plans.

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Is your Fridge smarter than my Fridge? Do Smart fridges talk back when you complain about your weight and then pull out a bag of frozen french fries? Please share your experiences with a comment.

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