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13 May 2016

The Well Traveled Can Opener

How many can openers do you own? I own three. That doesn't seem excessive, does it? They're all top blokes. I can't imagine my life without them. Come on, let me introduce you.
 
I call this one Campbell.


Whenever I look at a can opener, it reminds me of when my mom used to make us grilled cheese sandwiches and Campbell's tomato soup for lunch. So, I thought Campbell seemed like a good name for this fellow. He’s a modern type of can opener which uses a rotating cutting wheel and a serrated wheel to slice open lids so that you can get at your tomato soup in lickety-split fashion. 

This fellow is called Billy, as in Backup Billy.


You can't see him very well because he’s sealed away in a plastic bag marked Open in Emergency. He's a more ordinary can opener than Campbell, but he still gets the job done.

I bet you're wondering why it says Open in Emergency? Well, if you live on land and your can opener breaks while you're making dinner, you’d chuck it in the trash, order some pizza and pick up a new can opener next time you were at Walmart.

But, if you live on a boat and Campbell the Can Opener breaks while you’re in a remote anchorage miles and miles from a store and the nearest pizza joint, you have a minor meltdown. Okay, maybe if you're me, you have a major meltdown.

You open all of the cubbyholes in your boat looking for something to make for dinner that doesn’t involve canned food. When all you can find is melba toast and a jar of olives, you have another minor meltdown. Then, you remember that you have a back-up can opener, wisely sealed in plastic so that it doesn’t rust. You breathe a sigh of relief, open up the bag and continue making a scrumptious dinner involving canned tomatoes, black beans and corn. Okay, maybe it isn't scrumptious, but it sure beats melba toast and olives.

I know about the whole meltdown thing from personal experience when our old can opener, Bruce, up and died on me in when we were anchored in the Bahamas. There wasn't a spare can opener to be found anywhere on board. It was pretty tragic. Then we bought a new can opener and it broke on us too. That was beyond tragic.

My bloggy pal, Jaye at Life Afloat, remembered the blog post I wrote about the tragic Bahamian can opener incident when she was in Aruba. Now, why she was thinking about me and can openers while vacationing on a tropical island is beyond me, but when she saw a can opener for sale without any moving parts, she picked it up for me.

I call it Funshi, after the fine folks at the Fung Shing Trading Company who made the can opener in China and then exported it to Aruba.


All of the instructions are written in Chinese on the packaging, except for the part that says, "Beware of sharpness. Keep out of reach of children." But, there are helpful pictures which show you how to use it, so even someone like me should be able to manage to open a can of cat food or even a beer with it.



Funshi might be simple compared to Billy and Campbell, but, because he doesn't have any moving parts to break, he more than makes up for it in reliability. Sometimes, simple is best.

After Funshi's long journey from China to Aruba, Jaye and her husband then took Funshi from Aruba and brought him all the way to me in Indiantown, Florida. This is one well traveled can opener. Maybe one day, we'll even take him back to his adopted home of Aruba or even back to his birthplace in China.

What are the top kitchen utensils that you can't imagine being without? Do you have a spare can opener squirreled away anywhere in case of the Zombie Apocalypse? 

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30 comments:

  1. Who would have thought can-openers could have such personality? Or be so entertaining!
    The Glasgow Gallivanter

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    1. Perhaps we should worry about the fact that I'm so easily entertained by our can openers and give them names :-)

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  2. There is only one critical bit of information missing here - CRITICAL in the sense of "The continuation of life as we know it is at stake" critical - it's REALLY important.

    Did your mother make Campbell's tomato soup with water (shudder!) or milk? Inquiring minds want to know! And by the way, there is only one right answer here, if you wish to preserve life as we know it. We're all counting on you.
    And maybe Nancy Drew who, I'm sure, would never be caught dead eating the wrong mix of soup.

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    1. With milk - it's the only way to do it :-) Come on, you don't think my mother would serve us inferior soup made with water, do you?

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  3. An excellent and thought provoking article. On the good ship Brimble we have a single opener but most tins are the hand opening kind so it is not life threatening in the event it breaks. I like the idea of naming him but to be honest until now I had not appreciated that tin openers were male. Now I know I will crack on. With respect to other kitchen equipment we have recently bought a GASP or 'gimballed anti spill pan'. This bit of kit is proving very useful whilst making coffee at sea and is described in the Brimble blog. Great blog. Laughed out loud as I read it this morning.

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    1. Curious isn't it that can openers are all male? I'm not sure why that is. The GASP sounds like another essential piece of safety equipment on board because if you can't make coffee you would have a very serious emergency and a possible mutiny :-)

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  4. The value of a good can opener is so underestimated. But, you are doing it justice, Ellen! :-) Always have a Swiss army knife around (usually in one of our day backpacks). It is a great back-up, but... don't forget to take it out when flying with the backpack as carry on. And, don't forget to take it out after forgetting to take it out a few times and managing to "smuggle" it unnoticed through security... Mmmmm.

    Liesbet @ Roaming About

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    1. We managed to inadvertently "smuggle" knives through airport security which were never picked up. Makes you wonder what else gets through the x-ray machines undetected.

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  5. We also have multiple openers on board - and we are still at the dock... The thought of being without, when we do finally leave, is terrifying.
    Favorite gadgets... I have a few. My stainless coffee press is the most used, of course. My chef's knife gets used in 110 ways. (and then so does my sharpening stone) My large, hand operated juicer is lovely. And a strainer that sits on top of a pot of food, so that you just tip the pan and drain, vs needing a collander/large strainer is fairly close to the top of the list. And it was $3 at Walmart.

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    1. PS - I absolutely LOVE the opener you have with NO moving parts. I may have to add one to my next Amazon cart load...

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    2. I'm really liking the idea of that strainer. Will have to look for one next time I'm at Walmart.

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  6. Corkscrews! You've just got to have at least two back up corkies! Preferably ones that function as bottle openers too. Then if you lose the can opener at least you can have wine to de-stress......

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    1. How could I have forgotten about corkscrews! We only have one on board. I'll need to get a back-up or two for sure :-)

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  7. Everything you wanted to know about can openers, but were afraid to ask. Yes, being on a boat and out in the middle of nowhere, can make things interesting when something breaks or doesn't work anymore.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. It's amazing how I can write so many words on subjects like can openers. My mind works in very strange ways :-)

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  8. We've got two can openers aboard that are cousins to Campbell and I can't seem to get either one to work properly, so old Funshi's looking pretty good there!

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

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    1. I like Campbell because he's easy to use and comfortable in your hand, but we've had his cousins break on us before so I'm afraid he's not the most reliable chap around.

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  9. Perfect timing! While trying to use a fairly new manual can opener last night, I wondered what would hold up best on the boat. We're already having trouble with our can opener, and we're not even on the boat yet .. or in salt air! The opener from Dan n Jaye looks like a good idea.

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    1. Dan n Jaye's opener is going to save our bacon in the future, I'm sure of it.

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  10. We have a Campbell and a Billy but lots of our cans need neither. Might have to think about opener retirement homes!

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    1. I do love the cans that come with the pull-off lids. So much simpler to open.

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  11. If you ever need to replace Campbell, I highly recommend the one from IKEA. I have a back-up of that just in case, even though we are only about a 4 mile ride for pizza and Walmart is only 1 mile away.

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    1. Good tip - IKEA has lots of fun gadgets in their kitchen section!

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  12. We had an electric can opener when I was married before. I loved it...but I just don't open enough cans to justify it!

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    1. An electric can opener would be a dream given how many cans we used, but we try to minimize our electricity consumption when we're out on the water, so we have to go with the manual ones instead.

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  13. i can just imagine a different kind of emergency (let's say, zombies), and the back up can opener being opened since it says "open in emergency". I'm sure the zombies will be so confused as to why you are brandishing a can opener at them, they'll think "These people clearly have enough problems, let's just leave!" What larks! -Lucy

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    1. As always, you're thinking one step ahead of the rest of us. I never thought about it, but this is a sure fired way to keep the zombies off of the boat :-)

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  14. I have a spare can opener, spatula, tongs and potato peelers. And, they're land based.

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  15. I saw a commercial on TV the other day and thought of you. AND as a bonus this can opener already comes with a name! The TouCan can opener! You can probably find it on Amazon, Walmart, online. :-)

    Donna/Denali Rose

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  16. We're quite fond of the oxo good grips can opener, it has nice big comfy handles. I do have a Swiss army knife with a can opener and cork screw. My old friend John brought it for me when he went skiing in Switzerland . . . Which was in 1983 . . . I'm not going to do the math to find out how long ago that was. But I think it wasn't yesterday.

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