I had been so close to getting rid of the clunky, toothy kitchen tool I had inherited from my mom (who had in turn gotten it from my grandma). It took up a lot of room in my kitchen gadgets drawer, and I had it for years without really understanding its use. It was old and unwieldy, and who needs it?

It turns out I do! This tool, a vintage Brabantia jar opener, ended up saving me so many times when a too-tight jar lid was holding my jam hostage. It works on big jars or small jars, and it’s great for pulling out a wine cork that someone carelessly shoved too far back into yesterday’s bottle of wine (fine, the someone was me!). My grandma’s jar opener is now a staple in my home, and I can’t believe that I nearly got rid of it before I even met my husband, notorious for his death-grip jar-sealing.

universal opener kitchen tool


Grandma had so many great kitchen gadgets, and while some are a bit mysterious, they are really useful. Take the pie bird, which is more than just a quirky-looking ceramic bird—it was actually designed to keep pie filling from bubbling over in the oven by releasing steam. Although you may not be baking as many pies as your grandma did, this is a pretty cute and inexpensive item to keep on hand, even if just on display.

ceramic pie bird


I had known about bread boxes for a while, and I had seen them in the kitchens of black-and-white movies. I always assumed I didn’t need one, up until I found a beautiful vintage red one (similar to this metal bread box) at my local resale shop. Initially, I used it as additional snack storage, utilizing the roll top to keep our counter-surfing dog from getting at the granola bars. Later, I decluttered the counter by using it as a ‘coffee station’ to store all of our pour-over coffee gear.

metal bread box


A smaller item I inherited from my grandma is a plastic spaghetti measure. It’s silly, right? You should be able to just put spaghetti in boiling water and be done with it, right? WRONG. Or, at least wrong for me, when I used to make too much and ended up with leftover fridge ‘cakes’ of sticky spaghetti, or when I made too little spaghetti and just felt sad. A spaghetti measure brings an element of consistency to your pasta portion game.

spaghetti measure portion control tool


And finally, I have a new appreciation for the spoon rest. Recently, my friend had been getting rid of some vintage kitchen tools passed down from her grandma, and I noticed that she had a plastic black spoon rest in her ‘donate’ pile. I asked if I could have it, and she replied “Sure, it’s just a big weird serving spoon, I think.” When I let her know what it’s actually used for, she snatched it out of the pile of kitchen tool rejects, and placed it purposefully on the counter next to her stove. Since I botched that chance for a free spoon rest, I gave in and bought one, and I am never going back. It makes your stovetop look cute, and it stops you from stirring your soup and then holding the spoon vertically while circling your kitchen, wondering where to lay your ladle.

ceramic spoon rest


There’s a reason grandma’s kitchen gadgets are still around, whether they’re the original vintage ones or new versions. And that’s because they’re completely awesome!

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Emily, a Chicago native (okay, okay, born and raised in the 'burbs), loves being able to bike to and from her job at a tech company. After hours, you can find her walking her rescue pup (he's a good boy), taking French classes (voulez-vous un macaron?), and thoroughly enjoying her city's excellent restaurants and bars. She lives for the Chopped-style thrill of creating the perfect meal from limited and oddball ingredients.
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