"Relax, Candace. It's simple math. Instead of cooking it at 350 degrees for one hour, we could cook it for five minutes at...
(enters equation into calculator) 9000 degrees! What could go wrong?"
Whenever someone is strapped for time and needs to cook something, they will assume that the time and temperature listed in the recipe are inversely proportional; logic a Straw Vulcan
would be proud of.
For example, they'll assume a cake that needs 30 minutes at 375 Fahrenheit to bake can be baked just as well in 15 minutes at 750 degrees (never mind that a normal kitchen oven won't go that high). Expect there to be flames, plenty of smoke, and for the Lethal Chef
to pull out something resembling a forest fire from the oven. Or occasionally, a fireball that destroys the entire house, with a perfectly baked pie in the middle of the debris.
Various examples show the oven dial go up to thousands of degrees. One has to wonder
why the oven had a dial that could go up that high if it wasn't meant to be used that way
. (Why not?
. A subset of the horrible cooking skills of a Lethal Chef
. This has probably been Truth in Television
for some of us at one point in our lives
. Also, notice that some processes do
behave according to Oven Logic; milk pasteurization, for example, can be done in 5 minutes at 70°C, or in less than 3 seconds at 150°C — though again, the reduction in time is disproportionate to the increase in temperature (and doing it faster kills the taste by caramelizing the milk sugar).
The problem is that cooking (and chemistry) follow their own rules, which the character is not privy to - more specifically, there are several factors to the equation that the "cook" in question fails to consider beyond simply the amount of heat transferred. The rate of heat transfer is not proportional to the temperature of the oven, but to the difference
between the temperatures of the oven and the food. Since the temperature of the food changes over time, you'd need to have a firm grasp of differential equations to be able to predict the time required at higher temperatures. That's not even counting the effect on chemical kinetics, which will greatly increase the rate of reactions such as oxidation (burning) at high temperatures.note
Of course, household temperature scales are also not based around absolute zero like the Kelvin scale is. After all, what exactly
would be twice as hot as 100°F or 100°C?note
This trope is also a type of Logical Fallacy
. Not (directly) related
to Fridge Logic
. The more extreme cases will require our chef to use Tim Taylor Technology
. See also Mismeasurement
, contrast Instant Roast
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Anime & Manga
- Lethal Chef Akane Tendo in Ranma ½ had forgotten the boiled eggs, so she thought she could have them up in "a jiffy" by popping the entire carton of eggs into the microwave. It exploded spectacularly.
- In Episode 29 of Cardcaptor Sakura, Meiling Li did this, hoping to have a cake done before Syaoran came home from school (she wanted to show him that she could make a cake for their school's Home-Ec class). Needless to say...
- Millie. You know that "exploding kitchen, perfect pie" analogy? The one used in the summary at the top of this page? She does this every time she cooks.
- Satoshi in Michiko to Hatchin applies Oven Logic to medication. He takes double the amount of pills recommended dose for adults, figuring it would double effectiveness.
- A version of this occurs in Iron Wok Jan. Jan is a skilled chef, but because he was raised alone by his grandfather, he has no idea how to cook for more than five people. When he starts working at the Gobancho restaurant, he tries to cook vegetables for fifty people by taking the recipes his grandfather taught him and multiplying all of the quantities of food by ten. The end result is deemed a failure. He realizes his mistake later: all of the additional vegetables add too much water and make the dish too juicy.
- A variant appears in the episode "Toys in the Attic" of Cowboy Bebop, where Spike's impatience leads to him trying to use some kind of flamethrower-like tool to cook kebabs more quickly. The results are charred, inedible messes.
- Freaks' Squeele: Chance's solution to cooking two brands of pasta together is to average the cooking times. The result: a big heap of al dente pasta in mush. Not exactly disastrous, but it does put everyone off dinner. (Except Ombre.)
- In an ad for M&Ms with a cookie recipe, the red and yellow M&Ms remind the consumer not to try this — the red one holding up burnt-looking cookies and mentioning "500 degrees for 20 minutes", while the yellow one, looking rather singed, says, "And definitely don't try 1000 degrees for 10 minutes!"
- An inversion, of sorts, appears in the movie The Accidental Tourist. Attempting to make sure the Thanksgiving turkey isn't too dry, the sister of the protagonist sets the temperature in the oven too low (140 degrees Fahrenheit! also known as 60 degrees Celsius), and just cooks it much, much longer. Of course, a turkey sitting out overnight at a temperature that could be found in Death Valley turns it into a teeming mound of botulism; the one person bold enough to eat the food (the sister's suitor) ends up being carted off to the hospital.
- In the 1997 theatrical movie of Bean the two main characters attempt to pull of this trope when a pair of important guests drop by, both of them having completely forgotten about the appointment. Strapped for time and without having anything else to serve up, they decide to prepare a turkey dinner (which the non-Cloud Cuckoo Lander of them notes would take about 5 hours to prepare) by stuffing it into the microwave and trying to do the job in about 15 minutes. The result is predictable.
- God of Cookery gets away with this because both participants in a cooking contest are using chi blasts to speed their cooking.
- In Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget decides to make a caramelised oranges dish the night before, but needs to go to bed, so she reverses this idea, putting it on a lower temperature for a longer time. She ends up with something that looks like the picture in the book, if a bit darker. Her guests are prompted to ask "What is this Hon? Is it Marmalade?"
- Inverted, in a way, in P. G. Wodehouse's Love Among the Chickens. Ukridge, in an attempt to save money, attempts to incubate chicken eggs at a lower temperature for a longer time. Predictably, it fails.
- A tie-in Red Dwarf 'official log' contained a recipe for a curry that is supposed to be left to stand overnight and slow-cooked for some hours before eating. Lister annotates it thus: "Smeg that! Life's too short. Bung it in the microwave for five minutes on Thermo-Nuclear; that's what it's for." Of course, given that he'd already upped the spice content by a couple of orders of magnitude it couldn't have made things much worse by that point.
- In Grimble by Clement Freud, a recipe tells Grimble to boil a potato for 20 minutes. He cuts it into sixteenths and boils them for a minute and a quarter.
- Employed by Katie in The Girl With The Silver Eyes when she realizes that she's late putting the meat-loaf into the stove, so she moves the temperature from 350 to 500 to compensate and burns it. In her defense, she's 9.
- In one strip of Beetle Bailey, Cookie is watching a cooking-show on television, sizing up the cake-recipe for camp consumption along the way - that is, multiplying every ingredient by 100. At the end, however, the baking-instructions arrive, and in the final panel, Cookie is seen sitting in front of an oven (with black smoke pouring out of it), declaring "It'll be ready next week."
- Calvin and Hobbes once decided that making twenty individual pancakes was too much work, so he just poured in all the batter, so as to make one big pancake and then cut it in half. It should also be noted that when he added the eggs, he didn't bother removing them from their shells.
- A traditional Finnish recipe involves one batch of pancake batter simply poured into a pan and baked, then served in slices. Aside from the eggshells, this is actually a perfectly good idea.
- An early episode of (I believe) For Better or for Worse applied this logic to clothes washing. If washing a load of clothes with a standard-sized scoop of detergent gets them clean for the next week, so the kids figured, washing them with the whole box of detergent should get them clean for the next few months!
- One FoxTrot strip played with this trope, with Jason complaining that the recipe didn't make it clear whether a "350-degree" oven was measured in Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kelvin. Peter jokingly suggested that maybe they wanted him to rotate the oven just short of a full circle.
- The show MA Nswers, a show designed to answer "manly" questions, posed the question "What else [besides an automobile] could you put a HEMI engine into?" Their number 1 answer: a "HEMI grill", which could cook 240 hot dogs in 3 minutes. Whether or not this invokes Oven Logic depends on whether the engine is there to increase the grill temperature or speed up airflow.
- Fire trope? Must be time for a Mythbusters item! While examining various extreme ways to pop popcorn, one of the ways tested was explosions. Answer: No. Explosions either fling the unpopped kernels around, burn them or both. They did, however, discover that you could pop popcorn with lasers, one kernel at a time.
- Used in an unusual way on Food Network Challenge. When pouring sugar into a cold liquid to create designs, one contestant explained that the sugar (300 degrees in an unspecified scale) and the liquid nitrogen (-300 degrees in an unspecified scale) averaged out in temperature.
- The "unspecified scale" was probably Fahrenheit with those figures: liquid nitrogen exists between -320 and -346°F at standard atmospheric pressure, compared with -210 to -196°C and 63 to 77 K. It's also the only one of the three common scales that has a -300.
- A slightly different version of faulty cooking logic on an episode of the Funday Pawpet Show as Herbie recounts realizing he had no eggs after having started mixing some brownie batter, so he just added more water since "Eggs are water, right?".
- Helix from Freefall takes this to its Logical Extreme: Cooking is fundamentally the application of heat and pressure to food. Doing this faster will logically cook the food faster. What's the fastest way to apply heat and pressure to food? Explosives! Florence explains that you're actually sending massive shockwaves through it, ruining the food.
- Both ends are imagined in this You Say It First strip.
- The Daily Derp: "Take your time to perform certain tasks". Derpy learns it the hard way.
- Sci Fi Debris sums it up in his review of the Voyager episode, "Flashback". "What kind of cook thinks that increased heat equals less cooking time? A bad one!"
- In an Honorable Mention from Darwin Awards, a chef was cooking an alcohol-enriched fruitcake at 200 F in the oven, when his father dropped by the kitchen. Noticing the low temperature setting, and thinking to speed up the process, the father dialed the heat up to 350. Before the son could finish turning it down, or a verbal warning that "alcohol burns", the cake flamed out, blowing open the oven door and singing his forearm.
- In 2006, a man died in Australia after having received at least 28 "jolts" from taser, at 50000 volts. Channel Nine News reported this as being the equivalent of "over a million volts altogether". Voltage doesn't work that way (not to mention that it's the current that kills).
- Forensic scientists are taught to use "Degree hours" when calculating how long a body had been dead, because many of the methods they use to judge this, rigour, decomposition, the speed of development of insect larvae, are temperature dependent. this is basically oven logic, but it works because A, despite what CSI teaches everyone, the vast majority of bodies are not frozen by super-intelligent serial killers trying to trick the investigators, nor dumped in Turkish baths for over elaborate reasons and so are usually left at whatever the local air temperature is, and B, calibration curves exist so you can check the local weather reports, and so based on known recent temperatures adjust your time of death accordingly. Still deeply problematic, however, if the bodies are left exposed to the elements for any length of time due to the temperature differences involved.
- If you increase the power output of a microwave, it will take less time to cook something, based on the principle of how they work. However, you only need to worry about this if you're using a commercial microwave (in convenience stores), which are way more powerful than home microwaves; and if used improperly invariably under or over cook one's food. There are also some microwaves that are lower-power than standard home microwaves; these are typically the small ones you see sitting on top of a mini-fridge in a college dorm room. Many frozen foods will list a second, longer cooking time to use in these low-power microwaves.