Choosing a Can Opener

August 27, 2009

The Can OpenerWith apologies to the folks at Pampered Chef and my saleslady.

In our house, the Can Opener is King; that's just all there is to it. Now I like to think of myself as a decent housewife or at least an adequate one, but I do admit that most of my cooking skills depend on the contents of a No. 2 can.


So imagine my frustration when the most-used item in my kitchen just FROZE one day right in the middle of a frantic frenzy to get some chili in the crock pot before I went off chasing the bad guys.

Always saving things for a rainy day, I knew I had a spare or two in the drawer somewhere. I fished one out and couldn't even get the darn thing to open its lazy jaws. As the dog and several cats watched wide-eyed, thinking I was opening PET FOOD, I threw everything out of the junk drawer and found another. They all fled, deciding a meal wasn't worth a head injury.

After like 15 minutes of sawing and jabbing with that rusty relic and a paring knife, I was able to lift one chewed section of the can up enough so that I could scrape out (and smash) the kidney beans, which the more I worked, seemed to be shrinking away down into the can like live, terrified sardines. With five cans still looming over me, I abandoned dinner plans in exchange for take-out.


Now you may be aware that the cans in my life have been a source or torment, especially those off-brand things I'm always bringing home in order to save money for important things like books and craft materials. I think some of it may have to do with my extreme left-handedness. Most mechanical items are designed by right-handed engineers, you know, who figure I can just GET OVER IT. However, through the years, although I have had my share of chewed, jagged lids, I have outwitted those guys and mostly managed to keep my fingers intact.

Then miracle of miracles, one day several years ago, my husband studied me in a life and death struggle with a can of paste and said simply, "Lean your hand toward the can", and voila! The doggone thing worked!

But that was then and this is NOW....

Fresh from the showdown with the can of kidney beans, I went straight for quality and picked up a shining new can opener in the dollar store. 'Wow!' I thought, 'You really CAN get a bargain in these places!' (No pun intended).


WRONG. This one must have had it's teeth knocked out; it wouldn't even grip the can. So for the next several days, I avoided anything in a can, which naturally got me off the cooking hook! (Always mixed blessings even in a sordid tale like this one).

But my own personal Mechanic God walked in one day with TWO, lovely, stylish can openers from Pampered Chef. You know, the kind that cost something like $10 each. I WAS SAVED! He was my hero! I promptly skipped to the junk drawer and threw out the other old crones, even the new $1 one and did a little Dance of Joy. Spaghetti O's, here we come!

So imagine my ire when I grabbed a can from the cupboard the next day and tried to sock the thing on the side of the can and it revolted against me. It would absolutely not work. I turned to the trash can, now empty, realizing my last hope of dinner went with the trash men moments ago...


The next day I hurled mean accusations at the perpetrator, who nonetheless tried to enable, er, rescue me. He got the thing out and for 15 minutes we swung our fists and insults at it. (You know, it HAS been awhile since I looked at can openers and I did not attend the Pampered Chef party where the salesperson would have demonstrated it. Heck, it was just a can opener. Who knew?)

What is that quote about if something doesn't work, try something new?

My cute little husband eventually took the monster from the side of the can and slammed it on TOP of the can in the horizontal, as opposed to vertical, position. He turned the handle about 30 times and nothing happened. Sweat was beading on his forehead as steam rose above his massive head. Then he lifted the strange gadget off the can and the smooth-edged lid popped right off with it! Another miracle with new craft materials as a bonus!


So I think the moral of this one is, when you find yourself doing the same old thing over and over because this is the way you've always done it and it always worked before, maybe you're out of touch and out of date. Maybe you need turn your attitude around, get rid of those rough edges, and pop the lid off a whole new can of beans.

By Cindy from Waynesburg, PA

Editor's Note: Here are two of Cindy's can lid crafts:

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September 7, 2012

We purchased an awesome safe edge can opener and we love it. It removes can lids without leaving a sharp edge. Not only will this help avoid getting cut by the can we cook, it also makes it easier to use the cans for crafts later.

can opener

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April 27, 2009

Where can I get a commercial can opener on sale? I cannot open large cans of food with my opener. Thanks.

By kathleen williams


May 4, 20090 found this helpful

Hi, I use a Hamilton Beach cordless can opener that "walks" around the can. This way there is no concern about the size of can vs opener.


It recharges quite easily. I bought mine online.

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May 4, 20090 found this helpful

The can opener we use at our church comes from a restaurant supply store. It attaches to the counter top and is a permant fixture. It opens the large institutional cans and I have opened smaller cans as well. You can Google institutional can openers and see what you get if you don't have a restaurant supply store in your area.

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May 4, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks a million for the info about can openers for large cans of food, good luck.

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April 27, 2014

Where can I get a decent can opener? I've been replacing can openers annually and frankly, I'm tired to doing it every year. I need one that's easy to use and doesn't leave jagged, sharp edges around the can.

By Dudez from New York, NY


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August 26, 20170 found this helpful

OXO, Swingaway and cuisinart all make good ones.

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July 26, 2016

I am looking for a manual can opener that is easy to use.


July 31, 20160 found this helpful

The best can opener I have ever used is a swing away brand. I think it can be found at Ace hardware. Swing away last x5 longer then other openers.

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