The Best Can Opener – In Praise of Simplicity

I walked up to the counter of the local convenience store and set my item on the table.  I mindlessly pulled out my wallet and reached for a $20 knowing that the $8.99 can opener would be more than the ten-spot I had once the taxman (woman?) got involved.


The reply was unwavering.  It wasn’t a suggestion.  It was a command.  I looked up and didn’t know what to say.

The Best Can Opener   In Praise of Simplicity

You don’t want that one.  It sucks.

I still didn’t know what to say.  The kind clerk grabbed my can opener, threw it in a bin and crossed the store to a dusty bin in the back.

This is better.  Three dollars.

I’ve never forgotten that transaction.  Never forgotten how such a small, yet kind, gesture that was.  The gentleman guiding me owned the store and choose a cheaper item that he thought was better.  He believed in the $3 can opener (it’s also a bottle opener) and he saved me money.  I followed his instruction (not that there was any other choice!)

It’s been almost 5 years.  I still have the same can opener.  It’s one of many I’ve owed in my lifetime (I’ve had ones with no-slip handles, ones with magnets, some that bolt to the counter and even an industrial unit at our hunt camp) and I’m confident it’s the best.

Reasons I think my can opener is awesome:

  • It’s metal.  Durable.  Will last a long time.  And then it’s recyclable.  But, even after 5 years it shows no sign of slowing down.
  • It works.  It’s never failed, never slipped nor broke.
  • It’s easy to use.  Some of my others needed an instruction book to figure out.  Literally.  For a can opener.
  • It has a bottle opener.  I know I mentioned that but it’s opened several beer for me and I will always thank it for that.
  • It had no packaging.
  • It was affordable.
  • It works.  I know I’ve said that twice but I’ve had $20 can openers that don’t.

I wish everything was made like this.  And I think it’s important to share about the small things that make big differences in our kitchen; the latest gadgets can be fun but the tried and trusted tools of the kitchen have a special place in my heart.


  1. I have a can opener just like that one – I took it from my mom’s house. I think it’s probably at least 25 years old and it’s still the one I prefer to use.

  2. Enormous kudos to the store owner who put customer service ahead of profits (though of course, perhaps the profit margin is the same on both items, I have no idea). But I love that he cared enough to steer you to a better product, regardless. This is the kind of thing that makes me go back to a store again and again.

  3. I bought a $15 can opener a couple years ago that never worked properly. Instead, I use an old one that I thought I didn’t like until I bought the new one!

  4. Yes! I inherited this same style can opener from a departing college housemate in 1998. It remains a prime tool in my kitchen arsenal with at least weekly use. My now-husband’s fancy version went out with the donation bin when we joined households.

Leave a Reply