As the person who manages all product updates to our reviews, I’m deeply familiar with all of our winners and how they’ve shifted over time.
There are four main reasons why our ATK Recommended winners get dethroned.
Kitchen Gear: The Ultimate Owner's ManualBoost Your Equipment IQ with 500+ Expert Tips
1. A winner gets discontinued
There’s nothing more frustrating than when a great product gets pulled by its manufacturer. Sadly, there’s nothing we can do about it. (No, we don’t hold much sway with these companies.)
2. A winner gets redesigned
Unfortunately, those changes aren’t always for the better.
We recently demoted our former winning stand mixer, the KitchenAid Pro Line Series 7 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer. While it’s still a great machine, KitchenAid recently put some serious restrictions on all of its stand mixers for kneading: Don’t exceed speed 2 when kneading dough with the dough hook, don’t knead for more than 2 minutes at a time, and the total mixing and kneading time should not exceed 4 to 6 minutes. But many dough recipes call for longer kneading times (and higher speeds).
While we didn’t experience problems kneading longer in this testing, KitchenAid says that ignoring these restrictions can damage the mixer and void the warranty. We still highly recommend our former favorite, but it sits farther down in our rankings than it did before. Our new winner is the Ankarsrum Original 6230 Creme and Stainless Steel 7 Liter Stand Mixer.
3. We find a better option
Often, manufacturers actually succeed in making better products as they continue their research and development. We didn’t love the first Instant Pots we reviewed. But the company has done a great job refining and improving their designs over the years, making multicookers that performed better and were slightly more user-friendly. As a result, our favorite multicooker is now the Instant Pot Pro 8Qt.
Other times, we get to review great products that either weren’t available the first time we investigated the category or weren’t included in our testing for one reason or another. We do our best to test the most promising models on the market the first time around, but there are only so many products we can test at a time.
For example, our new favorite stand mixer, the Ankarsrum Original 6230 Creme and Stainless Steel 7 Liter Stand Mixer, wasn’t sold in the United States when we last tested. It wowed us with its power, durability, and great user-friendly features plus the fact that it had no restrictions on its use the way our former winner by KitchenAid did.
4. Opinions and perspectives change.
While we try to conduct reviews as objectively as possible, we reviewers are human too. Our opinions can inform the priorities we set for a type of product.
In addition, cooking norms around a product can change. When we reviewed mandolines fifteen years ago, they weren’t as common in home kitchens as they are now. Our previous favorite, by Swissmar Börner, could make slices in just two thicknesses and had a handy storage case that kept the mandoline’s blade from cutting us when we weren’t using it.
But as more home cooks began using these sharp tools, our expectations changed. We wanted more from mandolines: the ability to make perfectly even slices, and in a much wider range of thicknesses.
The Swissmar Börner mandoline was much simpler and performed less perfectly than many of the new (and new-to-us) products we tested. Our current winner is the Super Benriner Mandoline Slicer. Its ultrasharp blade can cut everything from paper-thin slices of radish to chunky planks of eggplant.
A favorite in restaurant kitchens, it’s pretty bare bones in a way that might have seemed intimidating to our original reviewer. It doesn’t have specific thickness settings, and it doesn’t have built-in storage or safety features. But everyone who used it agreed that its superior performance took priority over every other consideration. (And where safety is concerned, we’d always recommend using a cut-resistant glove to protect your hand no matter which mandoline you use.)
While it may be unsettling to see an old favorite dethroned, we promise we don’t take this step lightly. Our goal is always to bring our readers the best possible products available at all times.
We’re able to do this more quickly and efficiently than ever before, as we update our top reviews at least once a year. We check to see if any winners have been changed or discontinued and scan for promising products to try. That way, we’re always on top of the hot new thing.
And readers, we learn a ton just from listening to you! Think our winner isn’t as good as another or that it’s changed? Love a product that we haven’t reviewed yet? We want to know! You can either provide comments on an individual review (yes, we read every single one) or email the team at email@example.com.
Sign up for the Well-Equipped Cook newsletter
Shop smarter with our ATK Reviews team's expert guides and recommendations.