Months ago, I found this old-fashioned apple corer and slicer in its original boxed at a local thrift store. This one seemed old but was in mint condition. It was $5, so I couldn’t resist picking it up and doing a little bit of research about its history.
The first time I had ever seen one was at a local museum that would host these annual events for kids to show them what it was like living in the U.S. during the times of the settlers. One of the most memorable activities was one where we’d pick apples and then they’d show us different things that you could do with them– sliced apples, juices, cider, sauces, chips and so on.
I remember them having a much larger version of this apple corer and slicer. The museum worker, dressed in period attire, would stick an apple onto this sharp three-pronged metal piece and quickly crank a large metal wheel. And seconds later, you’d have this apple that was completely skinned and perfectly carved into a spiral.
Before 1864, there was no machine that would allow a kitchen worker or farm wife to peel apples quickly. The tedious task was performed by hand with a knife. That changed with the labor-saving device invented by David Harvey Goodell, who later became the governor of New Hampshire.
He called his first invention “the Lighting apple parer.” At first, a New York firm’s marketing efforts sold only 2,400 over 2 years. Dissatisfied with the outcome, David Goodell took to the road and became a traveling salesman. In less than a month, he sold 24,000 apple parers.
The parer that I found at the thrift store was made by White Mountain. This version is made of cast iron, and dates all the way back to the 1950s. It a simple design, which makes it really easy to clean. It also easily clamps onto a tabletop surface. I think what drew me to this one originally were the colors. It’s mostly green with a red handle, which kind of reminds me a red delicious.
The apple peeler was the first of the labor-saving machines David Goodell designed or improved. The firm he founded, the Goodell Company, also manufactured a number of kitchen devices still in use today. The mechanisms of the old-fashioned weren’t apparently well designed, because newer apple corers and slicers maintain the same mechanisms.