Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things
Making six pounds of potato salad yesterday afternoon gave me ample opportunity to test drive the new Palm Peeler, part of a line of paradigm-shifting kitchen utensils that replace the age-old blade-on-a-stick concept with a new design that fits flat against the palm. I peeled three pounds of spuds with the Palm Peeler, and three pounds with my trusty old OXO Good Grips peeler, purchased in the early 90s.
Here’s what I found. The Palm Peeler does its basic task very well. The motion of using the tool in your hand is intuitive and comfortable. Anyone with even mild arthritis should find it a pleasure to use a product with nothing to grip. Look mom, no handles! The surprising thing was that I felt discomfort in the other hand—the hand holding the potato. Because of the closeness of the blade to my fingers, I felt instinctively compelled to rotate the spud more frequently than I did with the old-school peeler, causing muscle discomfort by the time I’d stripped down a few spuds. Indeed, the product has an unfortunate name—peeling my palm is exactly what I was trying to avoid while using the device.
My first test of the Palm Peeler leaves the OXO Good Grips a few steps ahead for hand comfort. I don’t want to give up too fast, however, on an innovative idea, so for my next massive tater salad or hot buttery mash, I’ll repeat the test and see if maybe my skills can catch up with the gadget.
My friend Laura Miller tested out a Palm Zester at a recent dinner party and was less than pleased. The Zester has a little box for capturing those tasty flecks of citrus epidermus. What’s the point, she asked, annoyed at having to scrape the zest out of the container. A paradigm is a difficult thing to shift.— Ellen Lupton · 2009-08-25