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Renaissance Man
May 27, 2014 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Judge William “Banana Bill” Sheffield has never shied away from his ambitions. After graduating from Cal State–Long Beach with a degree in philosophy, he worked with former classmate Steven Spielberg on a yearlong film project, but just didn’t see promise in Hollywood. As a law student at UC–Berkeley, Sheffield successfully sued Pope Paul VI over a St. Bernard puppy that was never delivered to him from a monastery in Switzerland. At one point he even served as legal counsel for embattled Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. But none of this would compare to an invention he created in hopes of truly changing the world: the banana slicer.
posted by Chrysostom (24 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
(Sheffield says that the VP initially declined, responding that Chiquita’s “business is bananas, not banana slicers,” but he was soon sold on the product after he saw how much his kids loved it.) Inventions don’t sell themselves.

In this case, clearly it did.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:05 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


That was a fun read. Thanks. I love simple inventions. Easy stuff, obvious. Except before someone thought of it (and did something about it), it didn't exist.
posted by Goofyy at 8:39 AM on May 27


I would never get a banana slicer, but I love having a mushroom/egg slicer. It makes quick work out of slicing a pound or two of mushrooms.
posted by grouse at 8:53 AM on May 27


It's fun looking and potentially useful, but I try to shy away from unitaskers. Ended up with a squeeze style one ... but it turns out to be a pain to wash! Still, I might be able to use it for cutting small tube cakes or jello ....
posted by tilde at 9:40 AM on May 27


Quite a few entertaining reviews of the banana slicer on Amazon.
posted by jcworth at 9:50 AM on May 27


Fun article, turns out you can research any silly damn thing and find a serious story behind it. I admire the hell out of a guy who invents something just to help fund an orphanage. OTOH if you've got a direct vision from God to make an invention, wouldn't you hope it would be for something more world changing than a banana slicer? OTOH the vision was a "flat, ladderlike, banana-shaped device"? Perhaps he just misinterpreted its meaning and really God was trying to communicate a new firefighting life saving device or a lattice for growing replacement organs or something.
posted by Nelson at 10:09 AM on May 27


Maybe a banana slicer was what Jacob really had a vision of?
posted by Chrysostom at 10:12 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


"God, this is a left-handed banana slicer; I have a right-handed banana."
posted by Curious Artificer at 10:33 AM on May 27


This is a gadget that I have never felt the need for. If you are having trouble slicing a banana, you may want to try using a knife - they are pretty easy to cut through that way.
posted by thelonius at 10:34 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


"Invented" about 30 years after the Egg Slicer. Nice going, USPTO.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:50 AM on May 27


"There's always money in the banana stand slicer."
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:54 AM on May 27


Great piece - until the very last sentence. With regard to that, I call your attention to this Bloom County strip.
posted by Naberius at 10:55 AM on May 27


This is a gadget that I have never felt the need for. If you are having trouble slicing a banana, you may want to try using a knife - they are pretty easy to cut through that way.

Yeah, exactly. So very very very very very many of these kitchen gadgets can be thrown out in favour of a well-maintained $40 Vinox chef's knife and half an hour of watching YouTube videos on basic knife skills.

I love having a mushroom/egg slicer. It makes quick work out of slicing a pound or two of mushrooms.

If you lived in Toronto I'd challenge you to see who can slice through a pound of mushrooms faster.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:26 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


I do live in Toronto, but I'm not really interested in that competition.
posted by grouse at 12:37 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


I dunno, that sounds like a pretty awesome Toronto meetup idea.
posted by lalex at 12:46 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


You seem to be setting up a lot of bets, fffm.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:59 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Post to Projects.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:15 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I love having a mushroom/egg slicer. It makes quick work out of slicing a pound or two of mushrooms.

I've always found the most labour-intensive part in cooking mushrooms is cleaning. I'm sorta paranoid about it because of poo. Cutting is no prob, although 2 pounds is more than I've ever used and that could easily get tedious.
posted by Hoopo at 2:24 PM on May 27


Hoopo: " I'm sorta paranoid about it because of poo."

Sounds like you've been the victim of some feckless fecal fear mongering.
posted by Reverend John at 5:31 PM on May 27 [5 favorites]


I do live in Toronto, but I'm not really interested in that competition.

*shrug* okay. But trust me, it's faster with knives.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:39 PM on May 27


The question is not whether you are faster than me with knives, but whether I am faster with knives or a mushroom slicer. I assure you that despite hours spent studying knife skills and practice I am faster with a mushroom slicer than I am with a sharp knife.

I simply do not care how you slice your own mushrooms and it is beyond me why you would care how I slice mine.
posted by grouse at 7:33 AM on May 28


Because like my fallen idol Alton Brown I have a hatred for devices that are sold by hucksters to the populace when a simple sharp knife will do the job, and the more you learn the faster that'll be.

But, y'know, whatever.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:01 AM on May 28


Dealing with your hate makes cooking less fun.
posted by grouse at 9:21 AM on May 28


[MOVE ON, I am flagging this.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:40 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]


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