Yes, we reviewed a can opener

Chef Zuz wrote the following review for Cool Tools, Kevin Kelly’s smart, crowd-sourced gadget recommendation site (it’s also a massive and wonderful book that can trace its lineage back to the classic Whole Earth Catalogs of the 1960s and 1970s). Sadly, Cool Tools decided instead to endorse the OXO Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener, which Cuisine Stupide tried and rejected. You decide.

You’d think that, more than 200 years after the invention of the tin can, someone would have figured out how to manufacture a sturdy, reliable device to open the bloody things—preferably without drawing blood.

Sure, most cans these days are made of steel, not tin, and inconsistencies in the manufacturing process result in a wide range of lip shapes, widths, and depths, not to mention the variability of can diameters. Still, it shouldn’t be that difficult to create an opener that can handle all of that and cut open any can quickly and consistently, and without the need for Olympic-caliber upper body strength.

The classic P-38
The classic P-38

My wife and I have tried them all, or so it seems. Under-cabinet electric can openers, which excel mainly at collecting gunk from the cans. Fancy smooth-edge can openers, which promise no sharp lids but often work about as well as a butter knife. Even the old military P-38 can opener, which is probably a fine thing to have hanging on a chain around your neck when the zombie apocalypse arrives but until then couldn’t really be called a serious kitchen tool.

After much searching and cursing, we found a can opener that actually works: the KUKPO Manual Kitchen Can Opener. It’s made of stainless steel (except for the plastic knob), possesses the heft and finish of a gourmet cooking implement, and has never failed to open any can we’ve thrown at it. The resulting lid edges are not smooth, but that has always seemed more like a gimmick than an essential feature. More important: The KUKPO’s cutting wheel is so sharp and the cutting action so effortless, it almost feels like an electric can opener—particularly welcome for anyone with arthritis or other manual disabilities.

It lists for a ridiculous $50, but you can usually get it at Amazon for under $15 and sometimes as little as $7—less than the smooth-edge openers that don’t work half as well.

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