5 Opening Kitchen Gadgets Improved by Design Expert

Is the Coco Jack the best way to open up young coconuts? Can it be improved? Design and usability expert Dan Formosa takes a look at some common kitchen opening gadgets, rates them, and attempts to improve their designs. Check out all the gadgets here: Coco Jack: https://amzn.to/2O6IX04 Clever Egg Cracker: https://amzn.to/2LBoRcD Nutcracker: https://amzn.to/32JxuYc Handy Can Opener: https://amzn.to/2O5HqHy Jar Opener: https://amzn.to/2O5DczB

Released on 9/18/2019

Transcript

00:00
[hammer banging]
00:04
Hold on a second.
00:06
Getting coconut in the eye.
00:09
I'm Dan and I've been designing
00:11
kitchen gadgets for 38 years.
00:13
I'm gonna test some gadgets that open things,
00:15
and see if I can find a way to make them better.
00:18
I gotta tell you this is a tough one.
00:19
Angle this to the inside,
00:21
give it a curve, make it an oval.
00:23
These are the products I'm going to test.
00:25
Coco Jack.
00:26
[strained creaking]
00:27
Egg cracker.
00:27
[egg cracking]
00:28
Nut cracker.
00:29
[spring thwacking]
00:30
Handy can opener.
00:31
[whirring]
00:32
Jar opener.
00:33
[jar lid popping]
00:33
[light, playful music]
00:39
Coco Jack.
00:40
[drum roll tapping]
00:41
This is designed to open up young coconuts.
00:44
Let's see how effective it is.
00:46
[air whooshes]
00:46
This will involve a lot of banging.
00:48
[hammer banging loudly]
00:49
[air whooshes]
00:50
[hammer rapidly tapping]
00:55
Okay, I feel like I may be through.
00:57
Let's give it a shot.
01:00
[strained cracking]
01:02
Oh, not quite.
01:03
Let me give it another hit.
01:04
[hammer banging]
01:10
[light cracking]
01:13
Okay, I am through the hard shell of the coconut.
01:17
But not through the edible part of the coconut.
01:21
So I'm just gonna grab that open by hand.
01:23
So you can see, it opened up the coconut pretty easily.
01:26
Whoa!
01:27
At this point, I would get a straw,
01:29
or two, if you have a friend.
01:30
And just suck it all down.
01:33
Let's assume you don't have a Coco Jack
01:35
in your kitchen, or a machete,
01:37
and let's try it with a typical knife.
01:39
[whimsical music]
01:45
On a one to five scale in terms of effectiveness,
01:47
I would give the Coco Jack a four.
01:49
There's a bit of a technique to it,
01:50
but I think you can get that technique down
01:53
and it works well.
01:54
The more destructive you are, in your mind,
01:56
the better off you may be.
01:58
Now I'm gonna try the left-handed oil test.
02:01
By oiling up my nondominant hand,
02:03
I'm simulating what this may be like to use
02:06
by someone who may have dexterity problems,
02:08
like arthritis.
02:09
Let's see if I can grab this,
02:11
and start whacking away.
02:13
[hammer loudly banging]
02:19
Okay, I may be through, so I'm gonna give it a shot.
02:21
Let's try to pry that up a bit.
02:24
[low creaking]
02:25
Hm, not quite yet.
02:27
Lemme give it a few more whacks.
02:28
[hammer banging]
02:30
[low creaking]
02:31
[popping]
02:32
Okay, that's coming up.
02:34
So, push this out.
02:39
Up, and we're open.
02:41
Okay, that took a bit more work,
02:43
partly 'cause my left hand wasn't whacking
02:44
as hard as my right hand.
02:46
Also the angle that this device goes in
02:49
makes a big difference.
02:50
You want the leading edge, far edge,
02:52
to go in first.
02:53
But you also wanna make sure that you
02:55
catch the rest of the perimeter.
02:57
In terms of usability,
02:59
boy this really out of control.
03:01
I can squeeze this as hard as possible
03:03
with my left or my right hand,
03:05
but with a slippery hand this thing
03:06
will just spin freely.
03:08
This suffers the same problem.
03:09
It's totally round and
03:11
as you're prying it up it doesn't give you the ability
03:14
to give it a bit of a twist
03:15
this way or that way.
03:16
If you had a weak hand or if you had
03:18
some sort of grip problems you would notice the same issues.
03:21
In terms of usability on a one to five scale
03:23
I give this a three and a half.
03:24
It's pretty good, but there's
03:26
definitely room for improvement.
03:27
Now let's think about a redesign.
03:29
Usually hammer handles like this have a heel,
03:32
and what that heel does is keep it
03:33
from flying out of your hands.
03:35
Then somewhere around the middle
03:37
would have a bit of a belly,
03:39
and that belly lets you grab onto something.
03:42
So as fingers wrap around
03:44
they have something to grab onto.
03:46
So same goes for this handle.
03:47
But I would also look at the top of this
03:49
so we're looking down on this.
03:51
I would at least experiment with giving this
03:55
a bit of a forward leading tooth,
03:57
so have this come up a bit.
04:01
'Cause what this would do is pierce more effectively
04:07
into the side of the coconut.
04:08
I think also when you're prying it up
04:09
it may have some advantages.
04:11
My buy rating for the Coco Jack
04:12
on a scale of one to five is a five.
04:14
It's fun to break into things.
04:16
[air whooshing]
04:17
Nutcracker. [drum roll tapping]
04:20
A very violent, destructive, spring loaded nutcracker.
04:25
There are two ways to do this obviously,
04:26
with the seam and against the seam.
04:29
I'm gonna do it with the seam so the seam is pointing up.
04:32
[air whooshing]
04:32
I'm gonna go for full destruction.
04:33
I'm gonna pull as high as I think it wants to go,
04:37
and lets see what happens.
04:38
[spring thwacks loudly]
04:40
Okay and what I have done is shattered the walnut.
04:43
And actually pretty good.
04:44
I have some shrapnel and some walnut pieces.
04:47
Let's try it again.
04:48
I'm gonna do it a little bit lighter this time.
04:50
Full disclosure, I grew up on the Jersey Shore
04:53
playing pinball and my touch here
04:55
should be better than amateurs.
04:57
So I'm going to give it a little bit
04:59
less of a spring pull and let it go.
05:01
[springy thwacking]
05:03
and just a little bit of destruction here
05:06
but the advantage here is
05:08
the walnuts themselves are still in tact.
05:12
So I'm kinda likn' this.
05:14
[playful music]
05:20
In terms of effectiveness on a scale from one to five
05:23
I would give it a five,
05:24
because you can totally annihilate the walnut.
05:27
Time for the left-handed oil test.
05:29
Now I will say pickin' this up is a little tricky
05:31
if my hand is oily, gotta get my fingernails under it
05:33
and the way it's shaped just doesn't allow me
05:36
to pick it up easily.
05:37
And up top the ball is just as easy to grab.
05:40
[ball thwacks loudly]
05:42
So no problem there.
05:43
So any sort of dexterity problems,
05:45
any sort of pinch or grip problems,
05:47
not a big problem here, I think you can get
05:49
your fingers under here, worst case you can
05:51
slip your fingers under that
05:52
where you don't really have to pinch and you
05:54
can still let go and still be okay using this.
05:57
Terms of usability I would rate this a five.
05:59
I still think it's very usable,
06:01
but let me pull this aside.
06:03
I think I would extend the hold handles out further.
06:07
I do notice that when your fingers are very close here
06:10
there's a sense that you're gonna get pinched
06:13
when the spring is released.
06:14
I feel like that's inevitably gonna happen at one point.
06:18
So I would just spread these out a little more,
06:19
give it a few more millimeters of width
06:21
and other than that I think it's all good to go.
06:23
So I would use this.
06:25
In terms of a buy rating I would give this a five.
06:27
I would buy one for myself and buy it
06:29
for other people that I like so I would keep this
06:32
in my repertoire of nutcrackers.
06:34
[air whooshing]
06:34
Egg Cracker.
06:35
[drum roll tapping]
06:37
It is designed to crack eggs.
06:38
[mechanical clacking]
06:39
'Kay, let's test it's effectiveness.
06:41
Step one is place the egg in the egg holder,
06:44
put it over the pan get ready to squeeze.
06:46
[mechanical clacking]
06:47
And it worked.
06:49
The egg separator kept the yolk in place.
06:53
So there my hand's a little messy getting the egg
06:55
out of the holder.
06:56
This white piece underneath is detachable
06:59
and it's an egg separator.
07:00
It separates the yolk from the white.
07:02
It's a little bit hard to pull out.
07:03
Let's try it again now without the egg separator.
07:08
[mechanical clacking]
07:11
And the egg is out.
07:13
I actually helped design an egg separator years ago
07:16
and found that cracking and egg to a concave surface
07:19
was more effective than cracking an egg to a convex surface.
07:23
On average it gives a wider crack.
07:25
When you do it to the outside, what you're doing
07:27
is kinda piercing a bit of the egg.
07:30
I'm gonna compare this device now
07:31
with just cracking an egg by hand.
07:33
[playful music]
07:52
It does what it's supposed to do,
07:54
so in terms of effectiveness
07:55
I would give it a four.
07:57
There's a little bit of a clean up
07:59
and there's a little bit of touching that you have to do
08:01
which is driving it down a bit.
08:03
[air whooshing]
08:04
Let's do the lefthanded oil test.
08:05
All right we'll place an egg,
08:08
give it a squeeze,
08:10
[mechanical clacking]
08:13
and it worked just as well
08:14
lefthanded or right handed.
08:16
You'll notice that when it's squeezed together
08:18
there's still a gap here
08:19
so there was an opportunity to reduce the amount
08:22
of stretch that you have
08:23
and for smaller hands not rely on fingertips.
08:26
In terms of usability I would give it a three.
08:28
Could use some improvement.
08:30
The plastic is rather cheap and looks rather breakable
08:32
and the things that hold the egg look especially breakable.
08:36
I would pull these handles closer together,
08:38
probably give it a curve so the pinkie gets in play,
08:42
and still do that in a way that makes sure that
08:44
once they come down together there's no pinch point.
08:47
So you don't wanna come so far that you pinch your skin.
08:50
There's still plenty of room here to provide some more space
08:54
for the fingers to come into play.
08:57
That being said, I just wanna point out
08:59
there's no real reason for this product to exist.
09:01
In terms of a buy rating I give this a one.
09:04
It does have some comedic value
09:06
but you've kind of got to ask yourself why
09:09
because it's just as easy to crack an egg by hand.
09:12
Jar Opener.
09:13
[drum roll tapping]
09:15
It is designed to provide more leverage
09:18
and grip for opening jar lids.
09:20
Let's see if we get small enough
09:22
to hold this nail polish top.
09:25
[air whooshes]
09:25
And spin, and that opens.
09:29
Now nail polish is pretty interesting removing caps
09:31
because as your polishing nails
09:34
what you tend to do is
09:36
wipe the nail polish on the edge
09:39
which means is what your doing when you put it back
09:42
is you're gluing the top to the nail polish.
09:45
Okay, so let's try it now with the baby food jar.
09:47
And give it a squeeze and twist.
09:52
And it's a little slippery here.
09:54
It's not that easy to control.
09:57
Let's try it again.
10:00
Mm-mm, this one's kind of slipping.
10:02
So I'm not that thrilled about doing the smaller sized jar.
10:05
Let's give it one more try, I'm gonna squeeze harder.
10:08
[jar lid popping]
10:09
Ooh, I hear the pop.
10:10
Let's try spaghetti sauce.
10:12
I'm going to squeeze from this side.
10:16
Get some leverage on holding that top open.
10:19
Spin it's slipping but actually it's moving okay.
10:21
[jar lid popping]
10:22
So yeah, that worked fine.
10:24
[playful music]
10:33
The rubber that's being used here
10:35
is a little slippery.
10:36
So it's not grabbing the lid as much as you would hope.
10:40
In terms of effectiveness I would give this a three.
10:43
It may help in some cases
10:44
but I think it could be a whole lot better.
10:46
Since this is a two handed operation
10:48
I'm really gonna put oil on both hands.
10:50
I'm going to start with the jelly.
10:52
I'm going to hold the jar with my right hand
10:55
and use the jar opener with my left.
11:03
Not behaving as well as I would hope.
11:08
It's really not grabbing the lid.
11:09
Let me try something a little different.
11:11
I'm gonna try a different part of the rubber piece here
11:14
see if it grabs any better
11:15
but boy it's certainly not behaving.
11:18
Nope, not loving it.
11:20
It's not really happening.
11:21
I think what's changed is first of all
11:24
my right hand being oily is
11:26
putting the jar a bit out of control
11:29
and I'm just not getting the grip on the lid.
11:32
So not loving this.
11:34
For usability rating I would give this a one.
11:36
It's just too different to use and a little too frustrating.
11:39
I'm gonna give a quick review of jar opening physics.
11:42
So let me just put a little marker here on the jar.
11:45
Now watch that mark and watch my hands.
11:48
My hand is moving further
11:50
because it's in a bigger diameter than the jar.
11:53
The longer this handle is,
11:55
the more mechanical advantage you would have.
11:58
I gotta tell you this is a tough one 'cause I think
12:00
there are some inherent flaws in this design.
12:03
It's giving you four separate diameters
12:05
and two of the diameters are less advantageous
12:09
in terms of providing leverage.
12:11
So I think I would make one that's this big
12:15
so that you have maximum leverage here,
12:17
and make another one for small jars,
12:20
and again so you have some leverage here,
12:22
and I'm afraid to solve this type of design
12:26
would be several different products.
12:28
And the rubber, I would use something
12:29
with a lot more friction.
12:30
This is just too slippery,
12:32
it's sort of a slimy feeling rubber
12:34
and it's just not behaving,
12:36
it's not grabbing the way you would hope.
12:38
So my buy rating for this is one,
12:41
meaning I wouldn't even give it away
12:43
to someone I didn't like.
12:44
Handy Can Opener.
12:45
[drum roll tapping]
12:47
It is a battery powered device
12:49
that is designed to open cans.
12:51
And when you can't do simple tasks
12:52
that you used to be able to do with ease
12:54
a bit of depression sets in.
12:55
You feel a bit isolated, or at least you feel dependent
12:58
on other people to help, so making kitchen devices
13:01
assistive like this is really beneficial for everyone.
13:04
The curve here and the blade sticking out
13:07
make it relatively simple to understand
13:09
how this can opener needs to be placed.
13:11
Okay, so let's give it a go.
13:13
I'm going to place it,
13:15
press the button on top and stand back.
13:18
[loud whirring]
13:29
Now there's a magnet on here
13:31
so the can top comes off automatically
13:34
although you can feel some, an edge to it.
13:39
It seems and feels less dangerous
13:41
than the old-fashioned type of can openers.
13:43
Now I'm gonna try a more traditional can opener
13:46
and see how they compare.
13:48
[playful music]
13:54
So in terms of effectiveness I would give this a five.
13:57
Press the button, let it go, and just watch it wiggle
13:59
and spin the can around.
14:01
[air whooshing]
14:02
So, oil on the left hand, make it slippery,
14:05
grab a new can,
14:09
pick it up and this isn't that easy.
14:12
I can get it on there but I find myself struggling a bit.
14:15
Let's give it a shot.
14:16
[loud whirring]
14:22
The magnet didn't work that time.
14:25
It cut the can.
14:26
I do feel though this shape is not that conducive
14:29
to holding or grabbing if your hand is slippery.
14:33
I would give it a four and a half.
14:35
So almost perfect.
14:36
The body of the can opener is made of three pieces.
14:39
There's this top piece,
14:41
There's a bottom piece that's holding the cutter unit,
14:44
and then there's the battery door.
14:45
When plastic is molded,
14:47
liquified plastic goes into the mold.
14:49
It then hardens and it needs to pop out of the mold,
14:52
just like an ice cube needs to come out of an ice cube tray.
14:54
So ice cube trays are tapered towards the bottom
14:57
so that the ice will come out easily.
15:00
Same thing with plastic.
15:01
So you always have to look at what's called draft angle.
15:03
You need a little bit of draft on there,
15:05
a bit of angle so it pops out.
15:07
So here is that top piece,
15:12
and here is the bottom piece
15:15
which has a minimum draft angle here.
15:17
So what I would do on the bottom piece
15:19
without adding another piece
15:21
is either increase this angle,
15:27
it'd still be very moldable
15:28
or maybe even doing a reverse angle,
15:32
do we wanna get our fingers underneath the device
15:34
we could do a reverse angle here, it'd be easy
15:37
to get our fingers underneath it and lift it more easily.
15:41
So this seems like a bit of a fussy change
15:44
but remember, this device is an assistive device.
15:47
It helps people open cans who may have trouble
15:50
with manual can openers.
15:51
My buy rating for this would be five
15:53
and I didn't think this would work as well as it does
15:55
so I'm actually pleasantly surprised.
15:58
So some of the products we looked at
16:00
were a little more fun than essential,
16:01
but toys are good.
16:03
And it's extremely important to have fun sometimes.