Bill Cutshall’s Weblog

September 24, 2008

You’re DOING IT WRONG! – Filling the salt and pepper shakers

Look at your salt and pepper shakers.  One of them probably has more holes than the other one.  If you put the salt in this one, you’re DOING IT WRONG!

There are differing opinions about which shaker is the appropriate or correct one to use for salt and which for pepper (in the cases where there isn’t a clearly labeled “S” and “P” gracing the shakers).  The basis can be traced back to two schools of thought which I call the historical and the practical but, as with most opinions, only one is correct (because I say so, that’s why).

The first school of thought holds that the number of holes is traditionally linked to the amount and price of each of the seasonings required.  Before worldwide commerce was commonplace, pepper was extremely expensive.  A smaller number of holes in the pepper shaker conserved the precious spice and undoubtedly made anyone dispensing a large amount of it very conspicuous.  Salt, on the other hand, was relatively inexpensive, necessary for life and health, and useful in covering up the taste of poorly stored or prepared foods and thus was in more demand at the table.

The second school of thought observes the relative size and shakability of each of the two seasonings and determines that, given an equal number of holes, salt will flow from a shaker more easily than pepper.  In order to make the pepper easier to get out without breaking an elbow, more holes are appropriate.  Since none of us is suffering from a lack of salt in our diets and pepper hasn’t been a precious spice in hundreds of years, this is the correct way of doing things so stop reading this article and go fix your shakers immediately.


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