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  • suzannenorquist

That Boot Is Not A Potato

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Years ago, I bought a potato brush at a kitchen store and wrote the word “potato” on it with a Sharpie. An essential kitchen tool.

Until . . . I found my husband cleaning his work boots with it.

That was the end of the potato brush.

I’m always surprised by the unconventional uses people find for products.

When the contractor came to make templates for my new countertops, he brought long pieces of balsa wood and a hot glue gun. Like a grandma in a crafting group, he cut the wood with an X-Acto knife and secured the corners with hot glue.

Who do the hot glue guns really belong to? The crafting ladies or the countertop makers? I Googled the history of hot glue guns. And the answer is neither. It was invented for the shoe industry in 1954. Apparently, shoemakers suffered frequent burns from putting hot glue onto shoes.

Maybe hot glue isn’t the best example. Like staples, it can be used for everything. I found ads for industrial sized hot glue guns. Try to bring that to a craft group.

A better example might be the Native American Flatbread makers who use Christmas ornament boxes to store balls of dough. Now, that’s a non-traditional use.

I recently moved to New Mexico and discovered the joys of Indian Flatbread. It is prepared in tents at flea markets and craft fairs. The vendors make the dough at home. There they divide it into balls and pack them in the ornament boxes.  At the fair, they pull out a ball and stretch it into a flat shape the size of an old vinyl record. Then they fry it in oil.  It is best eaten hot and with honey.

When I told my neighbor about the ingenuity of the flatbread vendor, she said that they all use those ornament boxes to keep the balls of dough separated.

Does the manufacturer know about this? They could create a marketing campaign just for Native Americans.  Sell the boxes year-round. What if someone wants to open a Flatbread stand in July? Where will they find a storage box?

Sometimes a manufacturer will market for the alternate use. Flour mills used to print patterns on flour sacks so that the fabric could be sewn into something else after it was empty. It gave them a competitive advantage.

In historical fiction, women are always ripping strips from their petticoat to use as bandages. When they purchased their undergarments, did they consider how easy it would be to rip into strips or how much blood the makeshift bandages would absorb?

People aren’t the only ingenious ones.  Here is a link to a video of a dog who uses a drying brush at a carwash as a back scratcher.

I doubt the manufacturers will market to dogs.

On the other hand, dog owners will buy anything to spoil their pets.

Coming soon to a store near you—RoboSpin the motorized dog scratcher.

Maybe I’ll buy two brushes, one for boots and one for potatoes.

Or three. Just leave a sharpie next to the third one and see what my husband does with it.

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