As you consider diet and cooking, here’s a piece of top-notch design that’s so successful, I never stopped to admire it.
The latest version was developed for people with arthritis, but is a better tool for everyone.
I had no clue how rich the history [of the peeler] was, including cameos from Monsanto, samurai sword makers, and retail magicians from another era… the economics of the business.
The designer figured, if he marketed his peeler for people with arthritis, it would stay in small specialty niches. But a better design would be good for everyone.
(Just watch parents navigating baby strollers on sidewalks and consider how the Americans With Disabilities Act has improved sidewalks for us all.)
The handle had to be easy to grip, even when wet. That led to Monsanto’s polymer Santoprene, which was only being used for gaskets.
Bicycle handle grips offered ridges for inspiration.
American companies of the time didn’t want to be bothered with the odd device, so Mitsubohi Cutlery, a Japanese manufacturer dating back to the 1800s when they made samurai swords, got involved.
At trade shows, they put out bowls with peelers and carrots so buyers could try it, and let the weird new handle stick out of packaging so a consumer could touch it.
But the handle isn’t actually the reason why it works. The reason the peeler works so well is because the blade is really sharp. If you put a dull blade on our peeler, it won’t peel any better than our peeler. If you put a sharp blade on a stick, it will peel was well as our peeler. [Ah ha! That’s why my swivel peeler with a cheapo metal handle works fine for me!]
At a factory, we’d just hold the blades and peel carrots. If you couldn’t hear it cut, it was sharp. The factory thought we were crazy. But that was actually the secret behind it, and is true to most of the tools.
The whole story is a fun read on fastcompany.com
You may think peelers are too mundane to think about much, but there’s a Wikipedia entry for peelers with more history.
The Jonas peeler, designed in Sweden in 1953, is a straight design with a pivoting blade attached to the end of an oblong metal loop handle… While often copied, the original is still made by Linden Sweden. [Ah ha again. I guess what I own is a Jonas knock-off.]
The user-friendly handle has gone on to grace various cooking gadgets. Check your own kitchen drawers now.