Kitchen gadgets: From rubbish to brilliant?
Have you ever owned a gadget you thought was a bit useless, only for it to change your life (or at least sort out your dinner)?
How often do we see an infomercial, a product on a shelf, or even the shady type of back alley Double Glazed salesman trying to peddle something that intrigues yet confuses us? Usually, these items are cheap and call to us because we almost feel sorry for them. Maybe you received a gift like this during the holidays, for your birthday, or had it conveniently stuffed into your cart at a store. This is one of those stories.
I've become a bit of a kitchen gadget hoarder
As a kid in the 80s, you could always expect to find many things stuffed into corners of your kitchen that were sure to amaze, confuse, and even scare some of us. Along the walls and cabinets of our kitchen included the leftovers from what seemed to be like a bad reunion with the 60s and 70s. Now don't get me wrong everyone, especially you James May food fans. I love certain aspects of the 60s and 70s as well, just not the majority of what was left over in my home. I am speaking about the panel walls, lighting, and for some reason: the dishes and what could be described as a hybrid Tupperware/glassware system for leftovers.
Over the many years between that simpler time and now, I have come to realize that I have not learned anything from my experience as a child. I have suddenly resorted to becoming what I looked down upon as a child. It happened to be as soon as I turned 30 that I am hoarding all of the early 2000 items I could find, placing them around my kitchen and valuing things that for some would be the equivalent to wearing a crusty, ugly sweater year around. Though by the end of this article, I will have made my point.
I'm not alone in this experience. This became more apparent only as I visited the homes of my friends around the same age. Items which like us, clearly show their age. The worst part for me is always how now I am constantly finding myself looking at Ikea for the fashionable and artsy fartsy-hipster items that really do nothing different than my slim lined can opener or my less than modern whisk.
The tale of the P-38 can opener
What I will say honestly though is this: while some of the items I own do not have the prettiest appearance or functionality as some of their "modern" equivalents, they do serve a purpose. I have found this out so many times over the years. Most recently as I can remember this rang true to never count some of these items out. For a long time especially while working in the Automotive Trade, I carried a P-38 Can Opener on my key ring. It was a reminder for me of not just my time as a Mechanic in the Military, but of my Grandfather as well, who happened to be a Bus Mechanic in the early 1900s, but I digress.
Now for the many reasons I have come to use this can opener for, none up to that time were actually for opening a can. Mostly the can opener served for such things as a screwdriver, nail cleaner, and scraper. None of the things best expected of a can opener, something that is expected to serve in the kitchen. That is until one day.
A need... for beans
One day I did have the privilege of finally having a day off, and decided at that time to try my hand at something new, Spicy "Chicken" Chili. After spending the majority of my day "off" shopping for the delectable materials to put together this meal. I came home only to find disappointment and utter sadness, of what I was sure would be the greatest of my creations had turned awry.
During the prep stage of what I kept telling myself was a culinary masterpiece, this "new slim-lined" can opener took a dump. It bent in such a way that the bladed teeth refused to line back up. I had to find a different approach, especially after that slim line spent time in a vice, something else would be needed. So I approached the electric can opener, one which was even "newer" and was stuffed into a drawer closest to the outlet. After plugging it in, I tried in desperation to open this can of beans which was so necessary to the flavor explosion for this meal (Insert dominating face stare at inanimate object while menacing laugh is heard, here). Least to say after just a few moments of happiness and what I was sure to be nostril pleasure, once again came utter dismay. I cried out, "this **** **** can opener, took a ****". I tried over and over again to get the can open to unjam, only making it worse. Finally upon using brute strength and lots of cursing "******", finally came the release of my partially opened Beans.
At this point, I was severely tempted to call the "Bean" company and give them all of my undue frustration. Wondering for minutes how a can of beans could be so darn strong. Looking around the kitchen and garage for possible assistance in breaking, smashing, cutting, or worse to this can of beans. Needless to say after it took me about 10-15 minutes to calm down, with the needed assistance of finding both Rum and Coke. Suddenly, it came to me to turn my head and think about purchasing a second more reliable can of beans, though no thought of can opener was thought of. Then, like a second wave of light to my brain and its lightbulb came into view the sight of my P-38 Can Opener. How after all these years of abuse, it finally came time to do its job. After taking it off the key ring and cleaning the motor oils, skin, and other leftovers no one wants in food off its surface was it finally ready. Unclasping the foldable piercing blade and shoving down into the can of beans was truly an orgasmic pleasurable experience. Payback on this rigid stupid can, along with the knowledge of soon to be "Amazing Chili" was what I had needed.
After cutting time and fast forwarding to after the Chili. Unfortunately, right afterwards the P-38 served its purpose, I found that its blade refused to stay locked again. I had unintentionally bent the swivel. Was I even upset at the P-38 or the fact that I had broken it, short answer is no. After three years of doing a job it had no purpose doing and serving its duty with pride, I could not be angry, but rather was truly pleased. Needless to say, I learned a true lesson that day. After the long process of getting the can opened and the chili cooked, (which was horrible for a first time attempt by the way) did I come to the realization that some things will look like rubbish but are truly brilliant. These "outdated" items really are worth their weight in gold. Never again will I take such things for granted, and never will I feel ashamed to choose my outdated items for some new IKEA hipster gadget, which can both brew coffee and read me the weather again.
I only wish I kept that P-38.
Let me know about your rubbish but brilliant gadgets. I want to hear your stories. As always, feel free to share, like, and comment. Thanks.