In the foodservice industry, the can opener is a vital piece of kitchen equipment that is constantly under-appreciated and overlooked. A can opener at its core is designed to remove lids from metal cans in a safe and efficient way to prevent injury, as well as not allowing metal shavings to contaminate the food within the can. Can openers come in all different shapes and sizes, but at the end of the day they all share a common goal, open metal cans.
History of the Can Opener
Back in the mid to late 1700's people were trying to change the way their food was stored to ensure proper and safe preservation. Around the year 1772 in the Netherlands, the preservation of food in tin cans was initiated and has been commonplace since then. After creating the tin can as a means to store their food products, people were not on a mission to find the right tool and/or object to properly open the cans after having been sealed. Prior to the birth of the can opener in England in the year 1855, people would rely on a wide array of sharp objects to be able to open the tin cans and retrieve the food the had preserved. Despite the invention of the can opener in 1855, the design of the “modern” can opener with the sharp rotating cutting wheel was not invented until 1870, where it was not received well by the general public as it was too difficult and complicated to use. It wasn’t until 1925 that the can opener was revolutionized and a second serrated wheel was added to hold the can better which is the common design used in practice today.
Types of Can Openers
Manual Can Openers
This style of opener is your everyday household / low volume foodservice style opener. This opener rests well in the palm of your hand which you would the guide wheel and cutting wheel to spin around the tin can to safely cut and remove the top. Manual openers typically have two handles that vary in style whereby some are designed in a simple and rugged all-metal build where others have thicker, softer, ergonomic handles. Some cut at the top of the can, leaving behind a sharp edge, while there are other safer openers that cut under the lip of the can to help prevent injury. Handheld openers are designed for casual and low volume applications whom occasionally open cans, for example 1-2 cans a day.
Wall Mounted Can Openers
This style of can opener operates just how they sound. They are mounted directly to a wall so you have a harder time losing them and they are typically built to be more on the rugged side for slightly higher volume. Wall mounted openers are also designed for smaller cans and are not intended for larger #10 style cans as they can be heavy to hold while operating the opener. Typically people who use these openers find themselves opening multiple cans per day, for example 3-5 cans per day.
Table-Mounted Can Openers
Table-mounted can openers are designed to be mounted directly on an operators prep table. Given the style of mount, these openers are typically not for residential applications given their more rugged application and mounting scheme. Table-mounted can openers work great for larger cans because the height of opener can be adjusted through the can openers long arm which is held by the table mounted bracket. Also, this style of opener allows for easy operation as the unit allows the operator to leave the can on the table while quickly cranking the arm to open the tin can. Table-mounted openers are more common in high volume establishments which open 10 or more cans per day.
Electric Can Openers
lectric can openers are very user-friendly as they typically work by a simple push of a button. All the operator need do is place the can near the magnet and the electric can opener does the rest. The electric can opener holds the can with the magnet, as soon as the user presses the button, it begins opening the can with ease. Some electric can openers are suitable for 50 cans per day, at 4-7 cans per minute, while some heavier duty models are rated at 5-8 cans per minute and can handle up to 200 cans per day!
To help prolong the life of your can opener, try following some of these important maintenance tips: