Have you ever contemplated the origin of the cheese-slicer? I'd venture to say no. Well, perhaps, maybe yes. After all, you are reading my "invention of the cheese slicer" post for Inventors' Day:)
A cheese slicer, put simply, is an instrument for slicing cheese. Pretty basic huh? So what's to post? Well, it appears, the cheese slicer has a history. Yes, cheese has a rather romantic history also but today, I would like to focus on the cutter itself; the handheld cheese slicer.
The Ostehøvel (Norwegian for "cheese slicer") was patented on February 27, 1925 by Norwegian carpenter, Thor Bjørklund.
...If you love cheese, you should have a cheese plane. These are often called Norwegian cheese planes because they were invented in Norway and patented in 1925 by Thor Bjorklund who was a carpenter. He designed the cheese plane based on a carpenter’s plane to give thin and uniform slices of cheese...source: Charlottes Cheese Dreams
Yes, it seems, Norway has made other contributions to the world of inventions. For example, did you know it was a Norwegian who invented the paper clip. His name was Johan Vaaler and he was granted a patent in 1899. Hey, someone had to do it!!! The invention of Post-It Notes is an entirely different story.
We better get back to the cheese slicer before the cheese spoils:) According to legend, Mr. Björklund became a bit agitated when on a hot summer day he couldn't quite get his packed lunch of cheese to slice as thin as he would have liked. Since he was a cabinetmaker by trade, it occurred to him that he might be able to use the same principle for slicing cheese as he did for planing wood. The original hand-held cheese slicer was made of metal and can be seen here. Because of its ability to cut thin slivers of cheese, Norwegian houses wives loved it. It was an immediate success. In merely two years after its invention, the cheese slicer was being mass produced in Lillehammer Norway. I found an image of the original cheese slicer at wikipedia along with the story of the invention.
Thor Bjørklund & Sønner AS, that opened its doors in 1927 was Norway’s only producer of the traditional Norwegian cheese slicer (ostehøvel), and the first in the world. Since the beginning the company has produced over 50 million cheese slicers. During the pioneering years a total of 50-60 work operations were used on each cheese slicer, and one hour was used to produce each slicer. Today, approximately 7,000 slicers can be produced in one hour. (source)
There are those who believe the cheese slicer was first imported to American shores as souvenirs brought home by visitors to Norway. If you're lucky in your travels on the internet, you may find yourself right smack in the middle of a cheese paring celebration on February 27. That is the day the people of Norway pay tribute to Thor Bjørklund and the cheese slicer. Have FUN!!!
Resources 1. What is a Cheese Slicer?