The lowly spatula is something we cook with so often we usually take it entirely for granted. Have you ever considered what you would do in the kitchen if suddenly there were no spatulas? If you give it some thought, you’ll realize that many of the foods we eat on a daily basis wouldn’t even exist because they’d be completely impossible to cook! Here’s a list of just 5 great foods that owe their existence to the spatula.
1. Fried Eggs
It’s a well known fact that fried eggs need to be flipped halfway through cooking in order to come out okay. If you can’t flip them, they end up soggy, gooey, or worse! Before spatulas were invented, most people only ate boiled or scrambled eggs.
Here’s an interesting fact: before spatulas were invented, a style of egg preparation known as “oyster eggs” were fairly popular in certain parts of the United States. Oyster eggs got their name from the fact that since they were fried without flipping, one side was very hard and dry, while the other side was moist and slippery, a lot like an oyster on a half shell!
Needless to say, spatulas revolutionized egg frying, and oyster eggs, which were never terribly popular, went the way of the dodo!
Pancakes, also sometimes called flapjacks, skillet biscuits, or sweet Texas cow pies, were one of the first foods created when chefs were given a new way of turning hot foods while they cooked. Previous attempts had been made to cook cakes and breads in skillets, but since they couldn’t be flipped over or removed from the pan, they always resulted in a half-burnt, half-raw mess.
The earliest known recipe for a pancake comes from an 1896 book, “Modern Recipes for Spatula.” The book is incredibly rare and a first edition copy was recently sold at an auction for nearly $10,000.
Many people assume cookies have been around forever, but before spatulas were developed, there was no way of getting them off of the pan after baking. This frustrated many experimenting bakers, who would often come up with what seemed to be delicious treats, but which could only be scraped off the pan and eaten one crumbly bite at a time.
In the early 1900’s, when cookies were first introduced, the demand was higher than bakeries could handle. Extremely long lines often formed early in the morning, with people waiting anxiously to try to get their hands on these tasty new treats. There were at least two known cookie riots, one of which resulted in several deaths.
Here’s one I know about all too well. I was staying at a friend’s house, and while she was at work, I set about to cook some tacos. Well, after I had heated up the skillet and tossed the meat in, I realized I had no spatula. I ended up getting second degree burns on my hands just trying to make dinner! As the spicy red grease dripped down my arm, burning me further, I thought, If only I would have had some kind of cooking utensil to make these tacos with!
Speaking of injured hands, did you know that the inventor of the spatula, John Spaduala, had a crippled hand which probably inspired him to create the spatula in the first place? Read all about it in this article on the history of the spatula!
Burgers are so easy to make that most people don’t give it a second though. Take some ground beef, make it into a patty, and throw it on the grill. That’s it, right? Oh wait, you need a spatula to flip it and to smash it flat against your grill or skillet!
It’s amazing what a flat piece of metal or plastic can do to make cooking easier! Before there were spatulas, the only way to prepare ground beef was in a crumbled-up form, like in spaghetti sauce or sloppy joes. Hamburgers are ubiquities nowadays, and they owe it all to that simple cooking utensil!
Those are just five of the countless foods that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy if it weren’t for spatulas. What other ones can you think of? Be sure to leave a comment below with your answers!