SARAH A. TORGESON
If you stopped by the New Orleans Creole Tomato Festival this past Saturday or Sunday, this Back of the Drawer mystery item might come in handy—that’s because this week’s item is a vintage tomato slicer.
Twentieth century American kitchens were often at the forefront of technological innovation. The Science News-Letter, a national publication dedicated to making science and technology accessible to the public, even featured some kitchen devices on the pages of its “New Machines and Gadgets” section. In the September 27, 1952 issue, the editors described a new nine-blade vegetable slicer. The tool was designed to help housewives quickly and easily cut vegetables, fruits, and other soft foods into uniform slices.
The vegetable slicer pictured here was a ten-blade slicer manufactured in the 1950s by EKCO, at the time one of the country’s major kitchenware manufacturers. Despite its name, the EKCO Tomato Slicer was also advertised as an efficient cutting device for onions, butter, cheese, eggs, carrots, and cucumbers.
The directions for use included on the packaging demonstrated the simple effectiveness of the kitchen utensil: “Wash and dry tomatoes. Hold the slicer in the right hand, saw-edge uppermost. Put a dish or plate under the slicer. Take a firm tomato, and move it gently backwards and forwards along the slicer. When it cannot be cut any further, hold the slices from underneath, and continue the sawing movement until they are cut through. With an EKCO Tomato Slicer can be easily cut into thin, even slices.”
Our rating: Could be a useful tool if the blades are sufficiently sharp.
Design: Very simple. Eight to ten blades attached to a handle.
Originality: It is unclear whether ECKO or another company first manufactured this type of tomato slicer, but this seems to have been a common design by the late 1950s.
Practicality: Though it promises uniform slices and might save a little time, a sharp knife seems equally effective.
· New Machines and Gadgets
The Science News-Letter
Vol. 62, No. 13 (Sep. 27, 1952), p. 208
Published by: Society for Science & the Public
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3931258
Sarah A. Torgeson, a senior studying History at Yale, is an intern at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.