Our pull tab, twist off, pre sliced world.

Discussion in 'Multi-tools & Multi-purpose Knives' started by jackknife, Apr 25, 2020.

  1. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    When I was a kid, things were a lot different. Normallly I hate to say things like that as they tend to brand me as one of those old curmudgeons that complain “when I was a kid…” But its true. Karen and I went shopping this morning for our lunch picnic, and it got me to thinking.

    We bought some ham and turkey for sandwiches. It all came in nice neat packages pre sliced for the approximate size of the bread. Not like when dad had to slice the ham for our sandwiches when I was a kid. Then the bread was all pre sliced as well. No bread knife needed there, unlike when I was a kid the loaf of a good rye was a big heavy thing that you needed to slice if you wanted a sandwich. Sure there was that while stuff called wonder bread, but that wasn’t real bread. I’m not real sure what it was, but mom and dad wouldn’t use it. All the sodas and domestic beer come with twist off caps now, and lots of cans these days have the ‘pull to open’ tab on them. Even tuna fish is now coming in envelopes with a ‘pull to open’ tab. No can opener needed there. I remember when you went camping and you needed a large knife just to make dinner. Now its all pre packaged, pre cut,, and just short of ‘some assembly required.” Karen buys stuff from Amazon that has pull tabs on the box that actually work.

    Most times the pull tabs on envelopes and cans work pretty well. Sometimes they don’t, and then you need a knife. Not much a knife, but something with a sharp edge to cut it open. When I went to open the package of ham, the pull tab started out oaky, but went off track halfway and just tore off. I ended up using my pocket knife to slit open the rest of the package.

    So there we were today, under a shady big Texas live oak tree with the makings of ham and turkey sandwiches, with some packets of mustard and mayo. We ate good and all I needed a knife for was snipping open the mayo and mustard packs, and the plastic wrapping off the Swiss cheese. My little Victorinox executive handled that job and it got me to thinking about the difference of today and when I was kid and you really needed a knife to deal with things more.

    I remember when I was a kid, (there, I said it again, ) and I went with mom to the butcher shop. (the big chain grocery stores of the 1960's hadn't come yet) She picked out some pork chops for dinner and the butcher slapped them on some white butcher paper and rolled them up with enough paper to make an Egyptian mummy, wrapped white twine around the package several times and cut it off with he built in cutter on the twine roll. You needed a small machete to open dinner that night. If a package came in the mail, or dropped off by UPS, it came in a cocoon of heavy gauge brown paper that was thick enough to be resistant to small caliber rounds, and then wrapped with that brown tape that got put on wet and dried like a steel band. It came out of a dispenser roll that had a slicer on it and the tape passed over a water thing that you had about 2 minutes to get the package wrapped.

    I always remember how mom would ask dad to open the package, and dad would carefully examine the package like a demolitions man would examine a bomb. After some careful looking over, he’d take out his very well worn Case peanut, open the small pen blade, and make two exact slices in one end. Then he’d fold out the flap he’d made and neatly slide out what was delivered. The peanut had left a neat hollow brown cardboard shell that was disposed of in the trash. There wasn’t any recycle back then, we were too intent on filling up the earth with trash.

    Its easy to see why every man who had pants on back then had a small pocket knife in one of those pockets. Usually a small two blade jack or pen style. I’ve carried them and they will do a great job of most the cutting you have to do in real world situations. I carried my trusty peanut for lots of years, and when age and arthritis made the stiff spring little peanut with snappy half stops too much, I switched to a Buck 309 companion from the days when Camillus was still making them for Buck. Had a very nice Boker 240 pen knife with rosewood scales, but my grandson Ryan has it now and carries it everyday. My Case mini copperhead is with my nice Bronwyn in Houston and I know its being put to good use as her purse carry.

    So here I am with an Executive since the 18th of July 2018, and its proven to be a better everyday pocketknife than my two blade knives. Why? Phillips screws.

    It seems like the entire world if not the universe, is now held together with Phillips screws. Toys, electronics, wood products from Ikea, and most things that are “some assembly required.” They’re everywhere. Somewhere maybe Han Solo has to tinker with the engine of the Millennium Falcon, he's gonna need a Phillips driver. And unlike my Case peanut and Boker pen knife, the little Victorinox executive deals with small Phillips screws just fine. I did a little work on the nail file tip and it works as a small Phillips driver very well. The nail file of the executive and classic are great Phillips screw drivers and it adds soooo much versatility to the small keychain classic and almost keychain size executive. I think its that little bit of extra tool capacity that makes them so darn good. I know that in the 21 months I’ve been carrying the executive, it’s done things that my old peanut could not have handled. I feel a bit of a traitor for saying that, but facts are facts.

    I knew my dad pretty well. In many ways I’m very very much like him, a minimalist. I really think if dad had been exposed to a Victorinox executive, he may well have retired his trusty peanut.
  2. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2011
    Good post. I have to admit, I carry knives first because I love them and second because they're handy. If I was really looking for pure utility I would almost exclusively carry a SAK of some flavor or a multitool.
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  3. SteeleJ1976


    Jan 24, 2020
    Don't feel like a traitor for finding something that works for you. I carry a SAK and it is all the knife I need. I have a SuperTinker and I use the scissors more then anything else.

    I like feeling like I am more prepared then probably 90% of the population even if I dont end up using it all the time. Whether it is true or not a SAK can do a lot of things other knives can't....like you said facts are facts.
  4. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999

    Great post.

    There are still plenty of canned goods that require a can opener, though. When I’m cooking, I use the can opener on my SAK, and it can be from 3 to 7 cans at a time. The SAK’s can opener is the only can opener I use. Even with the cans with pull tabs, I use the large screwdriver blade to pry up the tab enough for easy access, and to avoid breaking a nail.

    I’ve said it many times, but for almost 10 years when I lived overseas in Taiwan, and another several years after returning Stateside, the only knife I carried was an older version of the Spartan that didn’t have the tweezers and toothpick. Luckily, that was when a SAK could still be carried aboard airplanes, so that knife also went with me on visa stamp trips to Hong Kong and South Korea. It handled all of my knife needs during those years. Sometimes I wished it had a nail file, or a small mini eyeglass screwdriver (like the one stored in the corkscrew of my current Spartan). But I went a fairly long time with that one knife, and I never really felt underknifed.

    Before I left for Taiwan in the mid-‘80s, I owned several pocketknives bought and used since my early to mid-teens, and I knew that the only Victorinox SAK I owned at the time would serve my potential needs better than a multi-bladed pocketknife with only knife blades (which ended up being true). I also felt that the SAK would be universally recognized as a benign tool wherever I went, whereas a knife blade-only pocketknife may or may not have been.

    Nowadays, carrying both my Spartan and Executive seems to have solved my desire for what I need a tool/knife for in typical daily life. And I do usually carry a Spyderco, because I like it, and also because there are times it’s great to have for certain cutting chores. But I consider my 2 SAKs as my main EDC.

    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
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  5. shopdoc


    Mar 24, 2020
    Even in our pull tab, prepackaged, processed world, I still find a need for a pocket knife multiple times a day. And I don't think I'm forcing the issue...I truly do need it. I wonder how people survive without a knife in their pocket. It's hard to believe in the circles we all run in online, but it seems like the majority of people DON'T carry a pocketknife anymore. I'm reminded time and again that I am in the minority. I'm 42 and it seems like my dad's generation was the last one where most every man (and many women) carried a pocket knife. Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty nowadays that do, but at least in my neck of the woods, it's a minority. I've always carried a knife...since I was 13 or so. And I owned a knife since I was 5. Growing up hunting, fishing, and working on farms made it a necessity. I was just reminiscing to my wife today (a city girl) about being up in a 100 degree hay mound drinking warm water out of a milk jug and sweating my butt off in jeans and long sleeve flannel shirts. Probably a little miserable at the time, but now some great memories. Funny how that works.

    I miss the old days. I do try and go to a bakery and butcher shop instead of the local big chain grocery store as much as I can. Convenience does win out many times however.

    Carl, the picnic sounds nice. Sounds like you and Karen go for walks/picnics quite a bit. Good for you. What prompted the move to Texas from...was it Maryland? We were supposed to visit University of Texas at Austin with my son over spring break, but COVID 19 had other ideas. He's still going to apply and I hope we get a change to visit prior to that. I have not spend a lot of time in Texas...a week in San Antonio once and I did drive across the state during a road trip from Columbus Ohio to San Francisco. Man Texas is a big state! I remember stopping at a gas station in Amarillo. I remember it because, and I don't think the years have clouded my memory, there we flying cockroaches or some such insect dropping out of the sky making it sound like it was raining outside.

    Jim, a Spartan plus Executive is a great pair. Or a Pioneer/Electrician plus the Executive. The Executive alone handles 95+ percent of my needs, but I do like the larger SAK on occasion. I dislike stuff in my pockets, so I try to carry the bare minimum nowadays. Today the Executive only accompanied my on a road trip around our area driving to covered bridges. I'm not sure the kids enjoyed it too much, but I'm running out of ideas during this quarantine. Frankly, I did enjoy it. This morning I was glad to be using the Executive while make homemade buttermilk biscuits. I dropped it because my hands still had some butter on them and were a bit slippery. It landed near my toe. A bigger knife might have chopped off one of my digits. Another reason to carry a smaller knife I thought to myself.

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  6. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999

    Thanks for sharing!

    Glad your dropped knife missed your toe/foot. A few years ago I was working with my Alox Pioneer on a kitchen counter and dropped it...not from any literal butter on my fingers, but from being a ‘butterfingers’ in that moment. :) Luckily, I instinctively moved my bare foot out of the way, and the Pioneer fell straight down, tip-first into the linoleum floor, then remained sticking up at an angle in the linoleum. I picked it up and checked the edge near the tip, and there was zero damage, only some slight edge rolling towards the tip. That was easily fixed with some very brief work on my Spyderco Sharpmaker.

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  7. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    @jackknife No SPAM in the key open cans/tins when you were younger?
    It was a sad, sad day in the universe when SPAM changed over to the pull tab can/container.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
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  8. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Convenience is the name of the retail game except for the clam shell packaging. Texas is nice, but I like Tennessee better. I spent a lot of time in Texas. But I don't miss it. I lived in Dallas. Liquid laundry detergent... what's with that? ;) Oh, but it's concentrated which means you use just as much and spend more money. I don't think my wife has ever really read the directions on the proper amount of liquid laundry detergent to use... just fill the cap.... I on the other hand have read the directions.;)

    If you really want to, you can still get ham that is not sliced. I remember even bologna was not sliced. Now, I doubt anyone would even buy it if it wasn't unless they buy it at the deli and get it sliced there. The need for a knife has been certainly reduced in our day to day lives.

    I use the flat head screw driver/cap lifter to open or at least start to open the tabs on cans.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
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  9. allenC


    Jun 18, 2000
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  10. 315

    315 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2017
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  11. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Oh heck yeah!

    Not only spam, but I remember the key can with sardines, and some other stuff. It was still pretty common when I was a kid to use the key on the can bottom. There was no pull tabs on anything. In fact, my very first exposure to the P-38 was as a kid. We were on a campout and our scoutmaster Mr. Van opened a can of beans to put by the fire to have with our hot dog stick roasted wieners. He took his old P-38 from when he was a WW2 mud Marine and cranked it around the can and we kids were fascinated by it. Then I saw dad take out the one he had in his wallet. Ends up most the grown up men I knew as a kid had one stashed from their WW2 service. Years later when I enlisted in the army and in boot camp we went to the field and the C rations had some P-38's in them, I recognized it from my scouting days.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2020
  12. allenC


    Jun 18, 2000
    And they are still making them today in Brazil, to be sold in the U.S.A...


    I bought these recently for emergency Covid 19 rations.
  13. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    I had been wanting to get out of Maryland for years, it had continued this leftward march. Karen was originally from Texas, so when we both retired, and I wanted to leave, she said both her sisters were in Texas, so we moved to Texas where I could finally exercise all my rights to include the 2d.

    Texas does more for vets than almost any other state. Being a 50% disabled vet, my cars license fee is 13 dollars a year, I get DV plates on my cars so we don't pay many of the toll road fees. We get free parking at the airport for 5 days at a time when we fly someplace like Key West, and they discount the property tax on our home and cap it so it never goes up. My carry permit was deeply discounted. Public events like big flee markets, air shows, and fairs and such are free for vets. Maryland never even bought me a cup of coffee.

    The Peoples Republic of Maryland had become crowded, too liberal, crime ridden, and tax excessive for social security retirees. Texas, in addition to Karen's family and roots, has no state income tax, no repressive gun laws, and a great climate for us east coast refugees the in addition to fleeing restrictive laws, were tired of east coast snow storms and 17 degree highs on winter days. July and August in Texas is hot as hell, but way less humidity than the east coast, so 100 degrees here is easier to bear than 90 degrees in Maryland. Plus the other 10 months of the year is soooo nice. Especially the sunny mild winters.

    I'll never leave Texas, except for very short visits.
  14. Wardo46


    Jun 26, 2015
    Well, I have to ask. Coincidentally, I also made buttermilk biscuits yesterday and darned if I can figure out how you'd use an Executive to make biscuits. Come on doc, spill. Inquiring minds want to know. :D
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  15. shopdoc


    Mar 24, 2020

    To thinly slice the 3/4 cup of cold butter that I cut into the mixture .
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  16. Wardo46


    Jun 26, 2015
    Well, okay, that makes sense. It didn't register because I use a box grater to grate the butter into the flour. Don't I feel dumb. :p
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  17. shopdoc


    Mar 24, 2020
    That definitely works too. I tried a grater the other day for butter while making blueberry scones.
  18. allenC


    Jun 18, 2000
    But a grader is messier and takes more effort to clean up.

    Just saying...
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  19. Getahl


    Dec 22, 2007
    For butter? Hot water works wonders :)
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  20. Sayoc01


    Nov 19, 2009
    Sigh,JK changing to a EXECUTIVE...just caused the peanut knife market to take a dump!! LOL!
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