A tin opener shouldn’t be a status symbol
Who knew the humble tin opener was such a status symbol in modern society? There was the infamous Mumsnet thread last year when a women’s sister claimed that “if you have a tin opener in your kitchen, it means you’re poor”, with little regard for those so poor that they can’t afford one. And now the Wall Street Journal has claimed that “millennials” are killing off the tuna trade because apparently we don’t own tin openers.
I must be an anomaly, as I have nine, but then I’ve just finished writing a cookbook, Tin Can Cook, with recipes made entirely from tins, and I needed some backup.
Tins with ring pulls tend to belong to those with slightly more disposable income; look at the basics and value ranges next time you are in the supermarket and you will see that they require a tin opener to get into them.
The irony is that those with the least money need an additional piece of kitchen equipment in order to eat the most basic foodstuffs.
My tin openers ranged in price from £1 for a plain and military-simplistic butterfly style, to £16 for a battery-operated lump that barely worked with any degree of reliability. A dependable, sturdy, mid-range can opener will cost about £5, and, for many of the food-bank users and people I work with, £5 may as well be £5,000, because when you don’t have it, you don’t have it. In desperate times, when my old can opener packed up, I have hungrily hacked into a tin with a bradawl and a hammer – an awful lot of work for the reward of some cold baked beans for tea.
I’m currently in the early stages of setting up an initiative to donate basic cooking equipment to people in need of it – starting with tin openers. Food banks already make “cold boxes” – parcels of food with cans that all have ring pulls and can be eaten cold, such as cooked meats, baked beans, tomato soup. It’s a grim indictment of the realities of our times that people need to consider this, let alone do it.
Perhaps as part of the Christmas donations drive to food banks, you could consider slinging a can opener in with the tins and packets. Even a £1 can opener opens a world of possibilities.