The Mellow Sous-Vide machine-made soft, gentle, susurrating waves when it first launched in 2014. Designed to keep and cook foods at a specific temperature, it featured an elegant design and an integrated tub that ensured uniform heating and cooling.
Fast forward a few years and it looks like the Mellow team has finally figured out that selling hardware is hard. In a move that is actively angering early backers, the company has added a mandatory subscription fee to use the device’s best features.
Mellow’s app was simple: you picked a recipe and told it when you wanted it done. Pork took an hour or so, beef a little longer. Now, however, if you want access to those so-called recipes the app requires a payment of $6 a month or $48 yearly.
Manual mode still works, allowing you to set a temperature and time, although the recipes were useful for set-it-and-forget-it sous-vide.
“Mellow’s app allows you to have free access to the Manual Mode and Mellow Cooling features,” wrote the creators. “The Premium Subscription will also allow you to create your own sous-vide recipes for all your favorite ingredients, and you can even schedule them for whatever time you want just as easy as when you are cooking a Mellow Recipe.”
It’s understandable that Mellow went this route. Home appliances have a long life and food tech startups often find themselves without new customers as their loyal users fail to upgrade older models. The subscription model is a way to squeeze a little bit more money out of customers, hopefully without them noticing.
But in this case, they noticed. Tacking on a $50 tax just to use a product’s best features seems just outrageous enough to set loyal users to a temperature just below boiling for two to three hours, resulting in delicately cooked—and angry—fans.