Instead of using the sharp blades that are found on normal blenders, which quickly slice up the food, the Vita Mix blender blades are actually flat on the edges and literally pulverize the food into microscopic pieces. As if that wasn't enough, Vita Mixers employ a switch that allows the user to reverse the direction of the blades as the motor is running at full speed, greatly increasing the impact velocity of the blades against the food for even better pulverization.
With all this talk about 'pulverizing,' there has to be some advantage to it, right? Well, the pulverizing action of the blades is important because, according to the Vita Mix folks, it increases the bioavailability of fruits and vegetables by smashing the cell walls. This cell smashing action allows the body to extract all of the food's nutritional content, while still getting the benefit of the fiber. Compare this with a juicer, which discards a great deal of nutritional value, along with nearly all of the beneficial fiber and pulp, and you get the picture.
The Vita Mix is so powerful that it can also grind dry foods, like coffee, wheat, rice or whatever else you want to turn into a fine powder. It can even make peanut butter! And because of the high friction generated by the flat blades impacting the food, the Vita Mix can even make hot soup. Just throw in the fresh produce, run the machine on high speed for about six minutes, and you have hot soup that's ready to eat.
I don't want this entry to sound like an advertisement for Vita Mix, but they really are great appliances, and they have an almost cult-like following on eBay. When you're looking for these machines out in the field, one of the most confusing things is the number of different models Vita Mix has made over the years. There's the Vita Prep and the Super 5000 (which look different from other models because of its transparent pitcher,) the 4500, the Maxi 4000, the 3600, the 3600 Plus, the Super 3600 and the 2200 Sidewinder, among several others. The units with the square, stainless steel pitchers are by far the most common models you're likely to find.
The key here is not to try to learn what all these different models are worth. Not only would that be incredibly difficult, but a particular blender's condition will greatly influence its price, causing the prices between the different models to overlap quite a bit. The key is to know the Vita Mix profile so that you can grab them for a few dollars when they become available to you.
A complete Vita Mix blender consists of the base motor unit, the pitcher, the clear plastic 'Action Dome' lid and the wooden tamper. If these components aren't present (except for the wood tamper, which is actually just a dowel rod that people tend to lose all the time anyway,) the unit is incomplete and bidders won't bid so high. Any other things like literature, videos, manuals or cookbooks that the seller may have kept with the blender are extras that may also help the bid price.
It's also important to also note that the parts, pieces and manuals for these machines sell very well on eBay. The 64-ounce plastic pitchers for the 4500 and 5000 models can sell for over $100, and the stainless pitchers - just like the one in the photo below - can bring well over $50. Even the little 'Action Dome' tops can pay for a day's gas! So, as you familiarize yourself with the incredible Vita Mix blender, don't forget to learn about the components too!
This unit sold on eBay for $188