My friend Corinna recently came into possession of a few rather incredible kitchen tools, most of which she placed in a giant box and saved for me to look through (Corinna does this not only because she is a super nice person who unfailingly thinks of the joys and interests of others on a daily basis, but also because she is a fellow fan of vintage items of all sorts). A bit of pawing through the box revealed some delightful treasures.
These tiny cake pans are absolutely delightful. They are made of lightweight aluminum, and seem to be in perfect condition. While looking up some information about them (mainly concerning what I should call them: cake molds or cake pans, since I am nothing if not thorough [I also used to work as a professional editor and proofreader, so my penchant for minutiae knows no bounds]), I discovered that these little pans were initially marketed as Jell-O molds.
These particular pans do not seem to have been manufactured by Jell-O itself, but I found many other tiny pans that were. I have to admit, I find Jell-O to be unbearable in nearly every imaginable way, but I am utterly charmed by the idea of mid-century kitchens amassing a collection of tiny little molds made specifically for the presentation of Jell-O.
We’ve all seen these around, but have you ever seen one in such impeccable condition? And check out those gorgeous turquoise details on the handles. It’s like the very essence of the entire 1950s distilled into one single item.
I love this citrus squeezer. I have actually owned a modern citrus squeezer of a different sort, and the darn thing broke after fewer than 12 months of use. This fellow, however, seems to be in it for the long haul. The pinching/squeezing action is as smooth as can be, and I don’t detect even a hint of corrosion or wear.
Included in the loot was a stack of pie pans, and I love them all. Sure, I already own pie pans, and I use them with great aplomb, but what is one to do when delivering pies to friends and family, as I often do? Thus far, I have always just bought a disposable pie pan and gotten on with it, but I like the idea of doling out these sturdier pie pans instead. Store-bought disposable pie pans are, understandably, thin and weak (they are, after all, meant to be disposed), and I have always been consumed with worry over their ability to keep from bending or collapsing when tasked when holding a rather robust pie.
These pie tins, made by Plush Pippin Restaurants. Inc., remind me a great deal of the pie tins that came with a pie purchased from the restaurant and bakery where I worked as a teenager, i.e. the place that made the delicious and suspicious drain-clogging fresh fruit pies. At my old place of employment, you paid a .25 cent deposit for each pie tin, and then, when you were done with your pie, you could return the tin and get your deposit back. Sometimes people would hoard their tins for years, and then come in one day, stack of tins in hand, and receive enough money from their deposit to actually buy another pie ($5.95 for a freshly made apple pie back in those days! Unbelievable!). As you can see on this tin, however, Plush Pippin was not interested in getting involved in the pie tin deposit game.
Plush Pippin, as I have read, was a small chain of Portland-area restaurants known for their wonderful pies. After expanding into a the Northwest and Minnesota, the company was sold a few times over and eventually transformed into a wholesale bakery that focused on pies. As far as I can tell, the only place one can buy a Plush Pippin pie these days is at Walmart (40-ounce pie! That’s 2.5 pounds of pie!), currently the exclusive distributor of Plush Pippin pies.
There is a bit of a debate over what the intended purpose of these tongs might be.
Ice tongs? Or perhaps grabber of olives, tiny gherkins, and other cocktail approved foods? Maybe it is all three. The tongs have developed a few worn spots, but they still work as smoothly as the day they were made (I assume, since I was obviously not around on the day there were made).
And here we have my favorite kitchen gadget of the bunch: the Bar Boy multitool.
This handsome little fellow can perform four separate functions. On one end it has a measuring cup for pouring precise shots (the inside of the cup also contains measuring lines, so one can measure and pour while looking from above). The measuring cup, the heaviest part of the tool, also serves as an ice crusher.
Moving on down the handle you’ll find a bottle opener, and then a corkscrew. Though I make very few cocktails these days, I can’t help but adore this tool. Look at the scalloped handle on that guy, made to accommodate a firm grip. The tidiness of the design is just a treat to behold.
I have to admit, I don’t know how many of these tools I will actually use. Mainly, I love them for their history and design, though, you never know, I might get the urge to whip up some tiny cakes, topped with citrus cream, fortified with a jigger of booze, then garnished with a cocktail cherry and served in a pie pan. It could happen.