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Cookin' with gas? Here's what you need to know

Nov 13, 2023

My father used to say it all time: "Now you’re cookin’ with gas!"

This was eventually shortened to "Now you’re cooking," probably because my family cooked with electric.

We did that because in the late 1950s, my father worked for General Electric and got a super discount on the company's futuristic-looking all-electric kitchen.

Every piece — cabinets, stove, fridge and stand-alone oven — was made of a buttery yellow metal.

No dated, old-fangled Flintstones junk for us. We were the Jetsons, baby.

We even had a dishwasher, which in the early ‘60s was still a novelty in my neighborhood.

So, we were well-off, right?

Nah. Not even close.

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In 1950, my parents bought their teeny starter house in Queens for $9,000, and they were still paying it off when we moved in 1972. But the first time any of my school friends came to visit, they all said the same thing: "Wow! Are you rich?"

They simply couldn't get over our modern metallic cabinets. Or that electric stove, which had a control panel right out of "Lost in Space."

When no one was looking, I used to press all the buttons and pretend I was Flash Gordon.

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Fast-forward to 1972: My parents sold the house in Queens and purchased a new one in Suffolk County. And, because it really was new, they were able to choose the amenities they wanted — and the ones they didn't want — as it was being built.

They did want the big fireplace in the den, but they didn't want the one in the bedroom.

They did want the redwood deck off the second-floor kitchen, but they didn't want the stairway that led from the deck to the yard.

(My mother lived in mortal fear of burglars — and in-laws — sneaking in through the back door.)

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And we HAD to have an electric stove. After all, electric is the best — right?

Four years later, a 21-year-old Yours Truly decided it was time to leave the nest.

After much searching, I eventually found my first apartment, which was the first floor of a two-family house.

My roommate and I had four bedrooms and two full baths for $480 a month — $240 each.

We also had a front porch, a basement and — uh-oh — a gas stove.

Naturally, I was concerned. Gas is the worst, right?

Well, as I soon discovered, I preferred my new stove. I even bragged to my parents, "Now I’m cookin’ with gas!"

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Preparing this column, I finally looked into the origins of that phrase. What I learned: It was coined in the 1930s by Deke Houlgate, a sportswriter who was also a pubic relations man for the American Gas Association.

His now-iconic catchphrase was used in advertising spots for the AGA and was eventually adopted by radio personalities like Bob Hope and Jack Benny as another way of saying that something was being done efficiently.

Daffy Duck said it, too!

Years later, there were stories that gas stoves might not be the healthiest way to cook, which may be one reason why so much of the country prefers electric.

According to, only 38% of Americans use gas, although that number jumps to more than 60% in New Jersey, New York, Illinois and California.

(Tell your friends: Almost everyone in the Garden State has gas.)

A recent report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission renewed the concerns about gas-powered stoves and recommended taking a closer look at gas safety. This led to mass hysteria on TV talk shows and wild predictions that government representatives would be coming to your home to tear out your stove.

(The CPSC has since reiterated that the commission is looking into ways to improve indoor air quality and that no ban on gas stoves is being contemplated.)

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As someone who, mere months ago, purchased a brand-new gas stove, I can tell you that indoor air quality is the least of my woes.

My drafty old house was built in 1890, which means that my indoor air quality and my outdoor air quality are pretty much identical.

My much larger concern is how to clean the dang stove.

Unlike the electric stove I have at my apartment on Long Island (which has a smooth, black tempered-glass surface), my New Jersey gas stove is a man-sized chunk of hardware — and a maze of nooks and crannies.

All I have to do is add salt to something I’m cooking and little white granules scatter all over my large black stove.

Cleaning my myriad stovetop messes means removing the three top grates — which weigh about 750 pounds each and do not fit into my sink — and wiping down the burner heads and the burner head caps.


The oven is "self-cleaning." The stove is not. Tidying it up takes forever.

As a result, I’m eating lots of sandwiches and ordering a lot more takeout.

As my father never said, "Now you’re cookin’ … with DoorDash."

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