(Feb. 12) Crockpot Jones and Slow-Cookin’ Smith. These are the new American heroes of the kitchen.

OK, they’re made-up names, but they reflect the new interest in slow cooking. On the same day recently both The New York Times and The Washington Post ran long features on slow cooking, particularly crockpot cooking, which allows harried householders to cook flavorful meals while asleep or at work.

Crockpots have been around for 30 years or more. But now the technology has improved, and slow-cooking cookbooks quickly sell out. The crockpot cashes in on the old French idea of the petite marmite — the little cook-ing pot that is always simmering.

Slow cooking is great for produce, and promoting this kind of cooking can boost sales. Some companies and supermarkets are now selling all the ingredients — already sliced and diced — for the crockpot. Americans want one-device cooking. They don’t want to have to use the stove top burners, the oven, the microwave. They want to heat up only one appliance, and they don’t want to spend much time.

Slow cookers may take four to 10 hours, but they don’t require attention, so the preparation time is the period needed to get the ingredients into the pot. Cut-up veggies and even fresh fruit can be dumped right in. Add a little meat, flavorings, water or other liquid, and you are off and running.

Flavor. You get to savor the flavor with slow cooking. That’s definitely a strong point. Americans — hey, most people — want food to taste good. Taste trumps a lot of the talk about health and dieting. (And if you are on a diet, you darned sure want what little food you get to taste good.)

Slow cooking cries out for the use of fresh produce. The dishes are combinations, soups, stews, melanges of all sorts, with chicken, turkey, pork, beef, you name it. You are cooking in the stock, the food remains moist, the vegetables absorb flavors, the fruit adds an exotic touch. What’s not to like?