Monthly Archives: April 2014

Jumbo Steel Opener

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Let’s rewind the clock six months. It was the end of August in Texas. A sweltering day like any other summer day in Texas. We were invited to the Bolding household to hang out on a Saturday at their new house. We would enjoy some drinks, good eats, and surely have a good time. Little did I know I would have my first encounter with the ultimate heavyweight bottle opener.

On their counter, was an old opener, quietly waiting for the next drinker to use it. I marveled at its weight, size, and effectiveness. No measly bottle cap could ever stand up to a beast like this. I learned the opener was very old, acquired from unknown lands. I knew then I would have to find one of my own.

IMG_2628 jumboI believe eBay was put on this planet for a reason. It’s primary purpose is to help our hero find obscure crap from around the globe. After twenty minutes of browsing and playing with different keywords, I found my mark. [Note: “vintage” and “large” turned out to be the winning combination]

Two weeks after the initial sighting, I held in my hand a similar model named Kap King crafted Midland Park, New Jersey mailed in from Tennessee.

This jumbo steel warrior is about 10.25″ long and weighs in just under a pound at 15 ounces. My version handled itself like the cool professional I met at the Boldings two weeks earlier. With a quick flick, the cap exploded off my Shiner Black. Over the next several months, countless more caps fell victim. I don’t recall ever needing to pull twice… this one delivers on the first try, every time.



Does it open?  Every time. No bottle is a match for this titan.

Can it open anything else?  Melons. Drywall. Windows. Heads. KapKing smash!

Overall rating: 5 Stars (5 / 5). This opener works and delivers a wow factor that will attract attention from even the most apathetic houseguests.

References: M-63 in JFO type index.


Category: Bottle Openers

Beer Cans on the Bookshelf

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beer book2

I spent a good chunk of my childhood roaming the streets and wooded paths of rural Pennsylvania seeking out old beer cans. Over the course of the late 1970’s, I amassed hundreds of cans proudly displayed along our basement walls.  Besides the standards of the day, I found many antique cans, rare cans, novelty cans, and exotics from Europe.

Enter this 2011 book titled Beer: A Genuine Collection of Cans. This is a visual catalogue of Josh Russo’s collection as photographed and cataloged by Dan Becker and Lance Wilson. The book itself contains sparse amounts of text introducing particular cans or series of interest, but is mostly photographs. The photographs include nearly 500 cans from 30 countries. This collection includes a lot of forgotten brands, old labels from current brands, bizarre and eccentric pieces.

beer book3

For me, it is a walk down memory lane. The book itself is stark and simple, but beautifully designed and a nice addition to any coffee table or bookshelf.

beer book5

My beer can collection has been collecting dust in my parents’ attic for the past 30 years. This book was a great way to go back and relive the memories of many of them, without bringing them home and putting a marriage at risk.


Does it open?  Yes – as all books do.

Can it open anything else?  Your mind.

Overall rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5). A great piece of nostalgia and design. This book is a welcome addition for those who appreciate the history of beer or collectors of cans.

References: None


Category: Books

Peep Jousting

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Veering a bit off topic, I thought I should share the traditional Easter celebration known as Peep Jousting. Each Easter, we end up with more sugar in the house than we can handle. At some point the sugar buzz alters our judgment and war games are conducted for our mallow-thirsty amusement.

_MG_8522 peeps

We selected four contestants at random from our box of gladiators.  Each gladiator is armed with a toothpick and a taste for mayhem. There is not much coaching of the contestants, they must stab the other peep before being stabbed. The first to get lanced, is the loser. May the best Peep win!


_MG_8535 peep1

The first contestants enter the turntable, with lances raised high and ready for battle. On the left is Sir Peepsalot and on the right is Yellow the Brave. They are slid into the microwave and nuked with power set to maximum and turntable rotation disabled. The battle begins. The Peeps expand and puff out their chests.

_MG_8540 peep1

This first battle doesn’t last long – maybe 20 seconds. Sir Peepsalot on the left expanded enough to drive his lance through Yellow’s chest cavity. The right Peep began to roll as it was taken out.  After taking them out of the microwave, they began to shrivel immediately. In this shriveled state, the results are very clear. Sir Peepsalot tasted victory, while Yellow the Brave only tasted death.

_MG_8543 peep1



_MG_8537 peep2

Soon after the carnage was cleared from the turntable, two more gladiators enter the Arena of Swollen Death. Fred the Sweet takes position on the left. Lord Puff holds position on the right. Both lower their lances before the battle begins.

_MG_8545 peep2

The arena photographer tried different lighting techniques for this round to try to capture the glory and the gore. Each peep stares down his opponent. Nobody blinks. The microwave is started and the battle ensues.

_MG_8546 peep2

Less than 20 seconds pass and the battle is over. At first it appeared to be a draw, with the gladiators tasting simultaneous death. However, the photo finish above shows Fred the Sweet managed to lance Lord Puff an instant before Puff’s lance delivers its death blow.

_MG_8547 peep2

As with any war, there are no true victors. Except of course for the mallow-thirsty fans who eat the gladiators.

References: Using hard science, the Smithsonian did extensive research to determine whether a stale Peep held any advantage over a fresh Peep in jousting. Read the article from 2010.

_MG_8553 peep3

Oh the humanity!

Category: Mayhem

Behind Enemy Lines

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In the heat of of a crowded party, bottles are popping out everywhere. Guests demand an opener that can handle the pressure and deliver in crisis. Enter the die cast Army Man bottle opener.

This guy is built of hardy construction with a nice weight to it. It is modeled after the old plastic green army men, with good detail on all sides.



It opens a bottle with the quick, easy stroke of an assassin.  However, the operation may be counter-intuitive to some guests.  Most bottle openers nest under the front edge and lift to pop the cap.  This soldier sets his gun under the far side of the cap instead.  Push down on his legs and the caps pops on the first try every time.




This reliable solider measures about 4.25 inches long and weighs about 5 ounces. It’s a great conversation piece and an effective bottle opener. It feels very well made, but I already see some scratches in the paint after a relatively short usage.  I’ll be interested to see how this guy looks after he’s aged and engaged in a few more battles.


Does it open?  Yes.  It is very reliable.

Can it open anything else?  The metal soldier is tough enough to shatter a bottle, but small enough that I wouldn’t recommend trying. He might be better served as a weight to prop pages open in a book.

Overall rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5). This is a great novelty opener. There may be some confusion on how to use at first, but when used correctly it works great.

References: None.



Category: Bottle Openers

TX Blended Whiskey

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I’m not much of a whiskey drinker.  I wasn’t aware that any whiskey was distilled in Texas. I was not aware of TX blended whiskey. Let’s face it, I don’t know much. But I do know that this shit is good.

Crafted in Fort Worth, Texas by the Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. this is one of the few blended whiskey currently made in the USA.  The distillery was founded in 2010

Each bottle is capped by a cork with a disc of repurposed leather from donated boots from the community. The leather varies from lizard to alligator to buffalo to cowhide and no two are alike.  The bar is set pretty low by the average screw cap, but regardless the cork is pretty cool.


The TX is a blend of select whiskeys.  They advertise flavors of honey butter, banana, caramel and coffee.  It’s a smooth 82 proof that was awarded Best American Craft Whiskey and Double Gold medal at 13th Annual World Spirits Competition in San Francisco.  Each step in distillation process done by hand (no automation), so you know they take their spirits serious.

That’s all fine and good… but how did it fare in vigorous field testing?  During a dinner party with neighborhood friends, the new bottle was brought out as an after dinner mint.  I thought I’d have the bottle for a while, but after a roar of enthusiasm Chris, Colin, Britt swarmed and we sampled.  After an hour, the bottle looked like this.  I had to buy a replacement bottle for the cabinet.


Their aged bourbon will be released later this year. Until then, enjoy this fine blended whiskey. I can’t judge whether it’s worth it’s $35 price tag, but it is damn good.  I need to drive to Fort Worth and do one of their distillery tours.

The Summary

Does it open?  Uh, well – that’s an awkward question. This isn’t a bottle opener. But the cork did pop nicely and the whiskey did flow.

Can it open anything else?  It does a good job opening a conversation and can only help your sinuses.

Overall rating: 5 Stars (5 / 5). Form does follow function. This opener is spectacular.

References: Star-Telegram ReviewFirestone & Robertson Distilling Co.

Category: Booze

Japanese Disc Bottle Opener

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Like a ninja, this work of art came out of nowhere and invaded my cutlery drawer. Emily found this unique opener in an antique store and gave it to me as an anniversary present.

This a Tsubame-Shinko bottle opener from Japan and is from the TI-1 series of stainless steel cutlery and flatware and was unlike any opener I had ever used. It is a 3.15 inch (80mm) disc, nicely weighted, with a center slot for the cap.  My internet research tells me this was designed by Takenobu Igarashi and was part of an award winning collection. That’s some good ancestry… but who cares about that. Does it open bottles or what?

Some experimentation was required to figure out the best way to grip and use this opener. At first, I thought perhaps form did not follow function and this one was a bust, but once it was decoded this turned out to be a stellar tool.

To use, the bulk of the opener is placed on the opposite side of the bottle and gripped with 4 fingers.  A quick jerk to pull the cap towards you results in a satisfying hiss as the cap is popped.  The opener is hand-sized and feels like a well balanced, fine crafted tool.

_MG_8382_disc  _MG_8387_disc  _MG_8390_disc


Does it open?  Absolutely. Every time.

Can it open anything else?  Surely so. It can be thrown like a ninja throwing star to chop melons at 6 paces.  It could be slipped under a lid to crack open a jewelry box or perhaps the edges could be sharpened to battle invaders. However, my aim isn’t so good – so it’s probably best kept in the kitchen drawer.

Overall rating: 5 Stars (5 / 5). Form does follow function. This opener is spectacular.

References: None.

Category: Bottle Openers

The Loveable Zap Cap

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Meet the Zap Cap. Once billed as the World’s Greatest Opener, I’ve had one of these on my countertop since 1997. We loved the plastic white opener so much, I purchased its stainless steel cousin a couple years later. We loved this opener so much, I gave it to my groomsmen along with a couple other gadgets when I married in 1999.

This is a plunger opener, whose design has either been stolen or rebranded many times since. It is holds a Japanese patent dated 1980 by Hiroshi Kichijyo (ref US patent 4414866). Cellardine is listed as the seller on my plastic opener. I’ve also seen newer Chinese versions listed as the Bottle Hammer, Bottle Popper, Be Open Soda and Beer Bottle Opener, MyTopOff, and Easy-Open Bottle Opener.

Its function is relatively simple. You rest the opener over the neck of the bottle and press down firmly and pop up in a firm plunging motion. The opener pops the cap and holds it with a magnet. When you remove the opener, the cap follows. No more chasing rogue caps across the counter or floor.

_MG_8341_zap2 _MG_8342_zap3

Whenever this opener is busted out in front of guests, a conversation usually follows. The more enthusiastic guests may suddenly become chivalrous and offer to fetch a drink for their spouse to try it themselves. Rookies may need 3 or 4 plunges to remove the cap, but with practice it should work with a quick double-pump for most bottles. The Zap Cap does struggle with short necked bottles since it requires nearly two inches (5 cm) of clearance for plunging.

This opener has worked great for years. We did replace a plastic model after several years of use, but the replacement has held fast for a decade since with limited use. We’ve had no issues with the stainless steel model.  Others have reported different success. This may be due to their lack of seasoned plunging technique or perhaps quality control is not what it could be in China.


Does it open?  Absolutely. Although, your mileage may vary depending on manufacturing and quality control.

Can it open anything else?  Doubtful. Since it has no sharp edges and is pretty light, I can’t imagine what other use it could have beyond popping caps.

Overall rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5). This opener works and delivers a wow factor that will attract attention from even the most apathetic houseguests.

References: S-4 in JFO type index.




Category: Bottle Openers

The Quest for the Perfect Opener

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_IMG_8339_OpenersWe’ve all used many styles of bottle openers to pop the cap off a nice cold bottle of beer or soda. Some of them fit in a pocket. Some are at the bottom of a drawer. Some are tied to a cooler. Some are mounted on walls. And there’s always one person in the crowd who has one attached to his keychain, in case of emergency.

Some of these openers work well.  Some work eventually after a few twists. Some suck. And then you happen upon a well weighted, well crafted opener that pops open a bottle with grace. Suddenly that tool seems like a work of art.

Herein lies the quest for the perfect bottle opener. I’ve explored many common openers, novelty openers, ingenious designs, antique openers, foreign openers, and handcrafted openers. They all have their merits and many have their downfalls.

The journey begins.

Category: Bottle Openers