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BuzzFeed is selling a $149, Bluetooth-enabled hot plate

Because it can. Also, because Tasty.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

True story, not fake news: BuzzFeed, the people who brought you the Donald Trump dossier and “17 Fucked-Up Facts You’ve Probably Never Heard About Serial Killers,” is bringing you a $150 hotplate.

Some precision: The hot plate is actually $149. And BuzzFeed doesn’t call the Tasty One Top, which will ship in November, a hot plate. Instead it calls it a precision smart cooktop” and says it functions as a culinary Swiss Army knife, which lets users engage in “pan cooking, pot cooking, slow cooking, sous vide, and more.”

Also! It works with Bluetooth, so you can control it with your phone, and control it via a new Tasty app.

Here’s a video — again, a real BuzzFeed video, not a parody — which describes what the One Top is/does:

Got it? Good.

So why is BuzzFeed, which makes its money selling digital advertising, getting into the culinary accessory business?

In part because it can, via its BuzzFeed Product Labs, which is run by Ben Kaufman, who used to run Quirky, a startup that specialized in turning interesting ideas into consumer products.

Now Kaufman’s group sells novelties like hot cheese glue guns and fidget spinners augmented with lip gloss. People are buying this stuff, BuzzFeed says. I’ll be grilling Kaufman about this, alongside David Perpich of The New York Times’ Wirecutter, at Recode’s Code Commerce event on September 13 in New York City.

The other part is more important: The One Top is meant to work in sync with the new Tasty mobile app, which is where BuzzFeed thinks it can make real money.

Tasty, as you know, is BuzzFeed’s breakout food brand, which thrives on Facebook and generates a substantial chunk of BuzzFeed’s revenue there. But while BuzzFeed has spent years focused on porting its content to big platforms like Facebook, the company has become newly interested in engaging with users on BuzzFeed’s own properties.

So while BuzzFeed says Tasty reaches one in four Facebook users, it would very much like to bring some of those eyeballs back to real estate it owns and operates — and where it can show them ads without having to worry about sharing the ad money with anyone else.

And if a $150, bluetooth-enabled hot plate helps make that happen, then it won’t just be a novelty.

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