Can-O-Matic - Don't ask why.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't see these around much any more. Nope. I just checked. It is just me. You can still buy them. Nope. It's not just me. I never see them on my friends' kitchen counters.

We had one of these things when I was "wee". As it is with so many things during kidhood (Tang, vacuum tubes, ketchup), I didn't question it. But now that I'm a big huge man, I can call into question the necessity of an electric can opener by going "double you, tee eff?", as I like to say, in Verbose Text Speak.

In 1961, middle America was delirious with it's own greatness. We had defeated Jerry, and put a man on the moo... (no wait. That was seven years later.) We had put a man on the television in the form of Jack Parr. And to put a Dairy Queen swirl of soft serve on top of that meat loaf of achievement, we then turned our considerable will on the humble kitchen, and found it lacking. "Let us" we intoned, "create a doohickey that shall", we said, raising our hand to the sky, "through the vigor of electromechanical automation", a single tear of righteousness rolling down our cheek, "open up a can of tomato soup." A thunder thingy happened and some majestic sunlight or something came down and made drama.

What I remember of my mom trying to get this thing to work was... well, my mom trying to get this thing to work. The opener wouldn't get a firm grip on the can, or the cutter wouldn't bite into the lid, or the can wouldn't rotate when the machine tried to rotate it. If my mom swore, she would have sworn at this thing.

The worst part about opening a can with a manual opener is the fact that the lid becomes a weapon with an edge as sharp as one molecule. This, I would think, is the problem that needed addressing with any automated solution, but nope. Electric can openers were a veritable production line of DIY shiruken, ready to cut the world in half if you drop it edgewise on the floor. If you were designing an electric opener, job one should be that it somehow rolls the edge of the lid, so that your Veg-All is relatively free of arterial spray when you feed it to your family. The age of Aids was still a decade or two away, and people in the sixties could still savor the risk-free richness of human blood, but it was, even then, kind of gross. The one job that an electric can opener handles for the weary chef are those horrible ten seconds of crank turning. I think this is a solution no one asked for.

Also, these devices became another six pound lump taking up space on your counter top, even if you did find them useful. It'd fit nicely between your electric food chewer and your electric sponge squeezer. The electric salt shaker hole-clearer-outer could stay in the cabinet except on special occasions.

Wait a second. It has a three-position bracket? Forget everything I said. My days as a lousy two-position bracket owner are over. I have to have one of these, pronto.


craig f. said...

"Gay colors or Wood Tones(TM)."

I guess the gays don't like the inside of a '67 Buick, that's why they bought so many Citroens.

Seriously, they trademarked "Wood Tone?" That's like trademarking "Yellow." They'd be better off tradmarking "Gay Colors."

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