Give Emily Johnson a few good cans and she’ll do a great opening performance. She spent a lot of time thinking about the can opener. Her bizarre knowledge of tin openers is the result of her testing dozens of things while working as senior editor for the food publication Epicurious.
Correspondent Susan Spencer asked Johnson, “What does exam day look like?”
“I feel like I’m surrounded by a bunch of useless can openers!” she laughed
“Are you just sitting there and picking cans?”
“Yes! Chickpea cans and cans, white beans, cranking, cranking, cranking, cranking.”
After all that crank work, she fell in love with the classic design with small toothed gears. She’s almost philosophical about it. “Can openers are delightfully analog. They’re disposables that people can’t get their hands on.”
Americans have owned can openers for over 100 years, and the design has evolved since the original 1858 model. “The cans were as thick as 3/16 inches,” Johnson said. “I had to use a hammer and chisel.”
However, people did not completely abandon the idea of cans. If they had tried, Johnson would have been able to tell them. You can! “You can make whole meals out of these foods that will stay in your pantry forever,” she said. But “you need a can opener to get there.”
For more information:
A story created by Amiel Weisfogel. Editor: Carol Ross.
More from Susan Spencer on the design: