On an internet constantly buffeted by screenshots and receipts of various byzantine dramas, it’s rare to come across something new, a niche drama that manages to be captivating but not soul crushing. This lovely rarity occurred last week, when writer Sarah Hollowell unearthed a stern message from the admin of a Crock-Pot Facebook group admonishing self-proclaimed masters of the craft for judging themselves above the noble masses of struggling “new crockstars.”
“It has come to my attention that some of you feel as though you are crockpot masters and are elevated beyond helping new crockstars,” the post reads. “If this is you, congratulations, you do not need to be a part of this group and you may find the exit at the top of the group page with three little dots.”
It went on to encourage those who feel “the need to be rude or condescending” to “please go to your mother’s house and say whatever you were going to type. If she whoops your ass, you probably shouldn’t type it.”
Wow. What disturbance could have so roiled the otherwise placid waters of a 331,000-member-strong Facebook group angelically named Crock Pot Heaven that an administrator felt compelled to raise the specter of familial violence, of relationships ruined? Why were people being cast out into the social-media cold and shunned as a result of their Icarian quest for Crock-Pot greatness?
Or as Hollowell, who tweeted the original screenshot of the post, succinctly put it, “damn what went down in the crock pot group.”
Okay, granted, things in Crock Pot Heaven didn’t get that bad, says Amberly Graves, 35, the woman who wrote the post, who describes herself as the “Mean Mom Admin” of Crock Pot Heaven. But she was tired of seeing flickers of negativity sullying what was supposed to be a warm, positive community of crockstars brought together by their shared love of stewing large batches of meat and vegetables in a pot for several hours.
The last straw for her was when she saw a couple of members mocking a user’s question about what to make for her husband, who is a picky eater. “Would it be easier to just get a different husband?” one person replied, adding, “Just kidding!!!” It was not a joke Graves appreciated. “Picky eaters aren’t just picky eaters,” she said. “Sometimes there’s people who have anxiety disorders, or who can’t handle certain textures, or smells, or tastes.”
And then there were the comments about the food being ugly.
“Listen, Crock-Pot is an art,” Graves told me over the phone. “It takes patience. It takes tweaking stuff.” And, she concedes, “It’s not always pretty.” Graves’s own 15-year-old daughter only recently came to the conclusion that food doesn’t have to look good to taste good. “She didn’t want to eat something I made one night, because it looked like throw-up in the pot,” Graves says, laughing. “But now it’s her favorite meal.”
Fortunately, the story of Crock Pot Heaven has a happy ending. Although she expected some backlash to her post, Graves says that the feedback she got from the crockstars was overwhelmingly supportive and that those who would dare to sow discord seem to have either taken the lesson to heart or showed themselves out, per her instructions. “We don’t know what others are dealing with personally. A kind word may lift someone who is down or struggling,” one user reflected. “I love you all and I’m honored to be a part of this group.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Graves says, there has been an “astronomical” uptick in the number of Crock Pot Heaven members and posts. “People are asking for cheaper recipes because they’ve lost their jobs due to COVID-19,” she explains. And while she understands that people are stressed, that they may be lashing out at others due to anxiety in their own lives, she doesn’t want members taking it out on one another.
“I love this group so much. It’s so important to me,” she says. “It’s a safe place to be able to make mistakes, to be able to fail and have everybody pick you back up.”