Inventions in Everything: A Five-in-One Kitchen Multitasker

Kitchen gadgets. If there's one thing all the members of the IIE team have learned over the years, it's that we each have far too many gadgets in our kitchens that only do one thing.

It's no wonder then that the opportunity to combine individual kitchen gadgets into multitaskers to cut down on kitchen clutter presents such an opportunity to inventors. Today's featured patented invention happens to be the earliest device we've found that integrates five separate gadgets into one kitchen multitasker. It's just not any of the five gadgets any of the IIE team would ever have guessed would be combined and officially documented via a U.S. patent!

Meet the subject of the invention for which Canadian electrician Robert Martin Gardiner was assigned U.S. Patent 586,025 in 1897: the Combined Grocer's Package, Grater, Slicer, and Mouse and Fly Trap.

U.S. Patent 586,025 Figures 1 through 5

Each of these figures corresponds to one of the invention's proposed uses, which we've excerpted from the text of the patent:

  • Figure 1: A grocer's package or box with feet attached to one end.
  • Figure 2: A similar figure, with the opposite side constructed as a grater.
  • Figure 3: The same constructed as a slicer.
  • Figure 4: The same as a mouse-trap.
  • Figure 5: The body with vertical feet at one end, preparatory to using it as a fly-trap.

In concept, Gardiner's innovation is to retask a "grocer's package" (or rather, a sheet metal can) for other uses after its primary purpose of holding its original contents has been completed. That's something that becomes a lot more significant when you realize the invention is the result of pre-20th century brainstorming for how to recycle a can. Which becomes more impressive when you realize the concept of brainstorming itself didn't exist as we know it until 1941!

This is the kind of invention the IIE team loves to discover, because there's a lot more in it than what the inventors themselves often realize!

From the Inventions in Everything Archives

The IIE team has previously covered the following inventions for things you might find, whether today or someday, in your kitchen: