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Is a Banana Slicer Really Necessary?

Is a Banana Slicer Really Necessary?

A few years ago someone sent me a recipe for boiled salted water. The recipe, on the popular recipe archive Epicurious.com, was, as expected, undoubtedly simple. It went something like this, “When salting water for cooking, use 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 quarts of water.” That was it! The conceit of publishing such a recipe is either to inform the hopelessly dim, or to provide a taste of wit amongst the stacks of truly challenging and confounding recipes. Whatever the intention may have been, the recipe was a hit, garnering a few hundred user reviews – all of which providing some arch and hilarious commentary on the preposterousness of the recipe itself.

Here is a sampling of a few comments:

“I cheated a little and used “instant” water. Just add water, then add your salt and it just could not be any easier than that!”
“I find this recipe works best if you blanch the salt in advance and add the blanching liquid to the water.”
“Freezes well.”

You get the gist. Admittedly it is a brand of geeky culinary humor poking fun at the need to overstate the obvious. I was reminded recently of my trusted boiled water recipe, while holiday shopping, when I came upon the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. For anyone that has been frustrated by the task of slicing a banana, well then this thing is for you. For the rest of us, we are free to playfully ridicule you and the product at hand. This admittedly cheap plastic product (will cost you around $4) is advertised as a “faster and safer way to cut a banana.” The absurdity and lack of necessity of such an object has captured the attention and imagination of a few hundred people who have found expression in an assortment of Amazon Customer Reviews (all of them seemingly in jest).

Here are a few of the better ones:
“History is now divided in 2 categories: Before and After 571 Banana Slicer”
“Stop ruining your knives! The Banana Messiah is here!”
“This model is only good for right hand curved bananas. PLEASE make a LEFT hand banana slicer! My local grocer only carries the cheaper left hand bananas, I can’t find right hand bananas like all you rich city folk.”

And the list goes on. Stupid humor? Maybe. Or maybe this is some much-needed levity in a season of indiscriminate, and sometimes reckless, purchasing and consumption. What items can you think of that deserve such playful skewering?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

113 comments

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1:03PM PDT on May 7, 2013

Do it yourselves!! Oh my God!

9:00AM PST on Jan 22, 2013

Thanks for a good laugh!

One of the most useless, eco-unfriendly products I've seen lately is this plastic container for onions. The idea behind it is to keep a half-peeled onion in it to prevent your fridge from the smell. Nothing a simple napkin couldn't do, really.

2:30PM PST on Jan 3, 2013

What next?

5:01PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

*facepalm*

11:17AM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Thanks for the smile.

9:37AM PST on Dec 28, 2012

Leora S.,

What do you use a baby wipe(s) for?

11:15PM PST on Dec 27, 2012

I can see this being useful for kids, esp. if used in context where parental supervision might be limited (looks more difficult to cut oneself) *or* distracted - like at a picnic event. However, there are other tools to also perform such work that our daughter uses at her Montessori program & there certainly would be no specific reason to market this tool just for bananas.

10:23PM PST on Dec 27, 2012

Useless as a baby wipe warmer

2:31AM PST on Dec 27, 2012

useless

10:42AM PST on Dec 26, 2012

Mari G.,

I do not the person or team of people (hopefully, not a corporation or within a corporation) that invented it. So, I do not know why it was invented, but as an inventor (I know I could make one of my figured out inventions made and equally important and never achieved good amount of money, if I just hand over control of my vision of my invention) I know I never think of the value of what I am inventing. I am thinking of everything, but that, including will people want it and use it, the way it is or can I convince people it is something they want and use it. Also, is it good for The World/Environmentally and The People of our world.
I hope and leaning to the inventor/inventor(s)/Corporation bought employee(s) who invented it did not do it to ripe us off. I still see how it can be useful, and a reason for it to be invented for our world and us. I do not have the resources to purchase it and the children. Plus, I would rather create something better than it, see my post that is a suggested improvement, to it.

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