Tasteful Inventions: Thor Bjørklund: Cheese Slicer

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thor Bjørklund: Cheese Slicer

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.

Norwegian cheese slicerApparently a cheese slicer is great for slicing cucumbers too!!!

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?

17 comments:

Lynn said...

What a cute post! I love my cheese slicer (given to me by my sister who lives in Norway :)) And we do use ours for slicing cucumbers, as well. One of our favorite summertime meals is skive (pronounced shee-vah), which are basically open-faced sandwiches you make at the table, passing around the bread/knife/cutting board; cheese and cucumbers and other goodies also make the rounds. And, of course, a cheese slicer or two :)

~~louise~~ said...

You are so sweet, Lynn.

I really should pay a bit more attention to this blog. I really enjoy the research. I do wish someone would "invent" a 48 hour day:)

The skive sounds like a wonderful dish to "bring" to the picnic game we play in June for National Picnic Day @ the Months blog. I do hope you will be joining us this year.

Thanks for popping in...

Pam said...

I nevet thought of using it for a cucumber slicer!

~~louise~~ said...

It seems to work GREAT Pam!!! Thanks for popping in...

Pam said...

Very interesting! I will try that with cucumber, who would've thought!

Pille said...

I've got one as well, but never thought about its origins :)

~~louise~~ said...

Thanks for visiting, Pille. I've been so bad about updating this blog. I really appreciate your visiting.

If you want to check out the Picnic Game, visit my other blog. Hope to "see" you there!

Anonymous said...

Nice article, but the digression about the paper clip is not correct. Johan Vaaler did not invent the paper clip. Several paper clips where patented before his version and the most common paper clip (the GEM) was in production at least 7 years before Vaaler patented his version. Vaalers clip was unpractical and was never marketed or produced. When the paper clip became a national symbol for norwegians it was actually the GEM that was used, a british invention.

M.Stacey said...

Genius!!

~~louise~~ said...

Anon: Thanks for that insight. Now we know:)

M.Stacey: Thank you!

Karin W. said...

It is not only suitable for slicing cheese and cucumbers. I also cut white cabbage with my cheese slicer.

trashmaster46 said...

Sliced cheese? Why, that's the greatest thing since sliced bread!

~~louise~~ said...

That's another GREAT idea, Karin. Thanks for sharing...

I just know you couldn't resist, trashmaster. I was tempted myself...

Simply Life said...

I just use a knife for everything - great to know!

~~louise~~ said...

Good idea. Keep it simple:) They don't call you Simple Life for nothing:) Thanks for visiting...

Pilar said...

Wonderful idea! I'm going to try.
Thanks for stopping by at my blog.

~~louise~~ said...

Glad you liked it Pilar. My pleasure, your blog is lovely and that banana one thousand cake looked heavenly.