It’s somewhat ironic for me to discuss culinary gadgets that are actually helpful, after going on such a long tangent about how so many of them are pretty useless.
There is a great difference between the low-quality “unitaskers”, as Alton Brown calls them, and some nifty kitchen tools used on a daily basis. I am sure many people will chime in on this topic, so I will contribute my opinion on the most unique tools I carry at all times. If I am in the kitchen without these two tools, I feel as naked as I would without a chef jacket: a cake tester and a bench scraper. I use these two tools almost as much as any of my knives.
Though I do not do much baking, a cake tester can be used to penetrate anything at all. With a cake tester, you can feel the internal temperature of whatever it is you are cooking by bringing it to the sensitive top of your upper lip.
A bench scraper is a lifesaver when it comes to cleanliness. I often see cooks use their knives to scrape their cutting boards to clean the area, but those of us who respect our knives don’t damage them with this practice.