Kitchen Panic was made in Japan by Tomy and sold under the Sears name. As such, the game itself is marked Tomy, but the box and instruction sheet only bear the Sears name. There's no date on the game or any of the materials, but it's from the 1970s. (In case you don't believe me or all the orange you see, the Sears logo design also indicates the game was produced between 1969 and 1984.)
Not to be confused with the later GameBoy, PlayStation, or other video games of the same name, this Kitchen Panic is a brightly colored plastic table top game that looks like a toy but, since it's all about competition, is actually a two-player game.
If Kommissar was the board game commentary on communism in the 1960s, Kitchen Panic was the tabletop depiction of consumption in the USA in the 1970s. You might think Hungry Hungry Hippos was the ultimate consumption game; but that was hippos, not humans. Kitchen Panic is about people. People playing with, if not actually consuming, food at a "As fast as you can!" pace.
The food in Kitchen Panic isn't shoved into an orifice but is instead delivered – presumably to a bunch of hungry, hungry humans. Or, maybe more accurately in a world of fast food gluttony, this game is about providing a lot of food for people who aren't even all that hungry.
Game play is pretty straight-forward. Each player is a rather stereotypical looking chef who has to pick up round entrees, or balls, from the "dressing table" and safely deliver them to the blue pan in the center. This is done by turning a crank to move the chef and his tray around the track. The player who makes all his deliveries first wins the game. (Note: In a complete Kitchen Panic game there are 10 balls, five for each player; my game only has four each.)
While Hungry Hungry Hippos relies on speedy hand and eye coordination, Kitchen Panic is a more a game of speedy dexterity. This is because the track has some rise-and-fall ridges, presumably to be the difficult steps the chef takes as well as to "toss" the balls into the pan. These ridges in the track make the game play similar to the old egg and spoon race you might play at a picnic or summer camp. Admittedly a less messy, indoor version of the egg and spoon race; but similar in the fact that some caution must be taken lest your speed should come at the expense of what you carry.
Go too fast, and that ball will roll off the chef's serving tray and bounce to the floor. You are allowed to fetch it and return to the game, but obviously this is a time delay your opponent can capitalize upon – especially if you have pets in the house who find the dropped ball before you do.
Kitchen Panic is suggested for ages five and up and it truly is a game for little kids. But, like Hungry Hungry Hippos, it doesn't mean adults won't enjoy it. Especially if the grown-ups recall the game from their own childhood. However, I doubt that there are as many who recall Sears' Kitchen Panic as there are those who get nostalgic over Hasbro's Hungry Hungry Hippos. Kitchen Panic was made in much smaller numbers for a much shorter period of time. Less children who had the Kitchen Panic game means less adults who remember it now. Which might just be a good thing as this game is a rare find. Check eBay; check Etsy.