Dented salt and pepper shakers
June 1, 2005 10:04 AM   Subscribe

In diners, why are the metal tops of salt and pepper shakers usually dented as if they've been smashed with a hammer or something. Someone once gave me a reason why this was done intentionally but I can't remember what it was.
posted by gfrobe to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
I don't think it's intentional. It's just that they get slammed around quite a bit. (I suspect whoever told you that was pullin' your leg.)
posted by Doohickie at 10:14 AM on June 1, 2005

So they're ugly and you won't want to take them home with you? Sounds plausible.
posted by qwip at 10:15 AM on June 1, 2005

I've worked in lots of restaurants and have never seen intentionally dented ones. If it's ever done on purpose, I'd guess it was so that no one would want to steal them.
posted by iconomy at 10:17 AM on June 1, 2005

My guess is that clumsy/careless/inebriated patrons tend to drop them while they're in the act of dispensing which leads to repeated rapid deceleration of the metal tops against hard surfaces.
posted by de void at 10:50 AM on June 1, 2005

industrial dishwashers are hard on thin pieces of tin with holes in it? /guess
posted by rxreed at 1:47 PM on June 1, 2005

Also, when they get dropped, the tops dent but the glass parts break. So you end up with extra tops in various states.
posted by tommasz at 3:24 PM on June 1, 2005

maybe it makes less salt and pepper come out? so if people are in the habit of a certain number of shakes, the stingy diner will save a few cents.
posted by leapingsheep at 5:28 PM on June 1, 2005

High humidity will make both salt and pepper clump, thereby clogging the holes in the shaker tops. If someone attempts to clear the holes by tapping the shaker top on a table or counter, it will likely dent the top, which is weakened by the presence of the holes.
posted by RMALCOLM at 8:32 PM on June 1, 2005

I was going to post about the secret order of shaker-denting monks who travel the world in disguise, ensuring that diners have dented shakers for some long-forgotten demented theological reason. But then I read the note by the submission box about wisecracks and decided not to.

More seriously, though: I've also noticed that the tops are almost always dented, but I've also noticed that they're not dented in any regular or uniform way. So I'm inclined to think that they just get dented in the natural course of their use and abuse.
posted by hattifattener at 12:05 AM on June 2, 2005

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