Some time ago I visited Everybody’s Store, in tiny Van Zandt, Washington. Everybody’s is an exotic grocery store and temple to the hand-made sandwich, located outside Bellingham in a town so small it has no Wikipedia article (!).
I ordered some Havarti Dill cheese, which is a bear to slice. But it was no problem for the 100-year-old hoop cheese cutter they were using.
“I’ve got to get one of those,” I exclaimed.
“Good luck,” the owner replied.
And sure enough, even the Internet failed me. I couldn’t find one for sale anywhere.
Persistence paid off, though, and I eventually found one on a local classifieds site. The picture above shows it as delivered; below after a lot of elbow grease and some mineral oil, still on the workbench.
I’m happy that I found one with all the original parts; after a shot of lubricant we were even able to get the lever to turn the wheel (in precise regular increments, for honest cheese dealing).
My long season of searching helped me learn more than anyone could want to know about cheese cutters. A century ago they were the subject of frequent innovation, a wide spectrum of design, and cutthroat competition and lawsuits. (I found one of the patents for this model.)
In fact, the company that made my cheese cutter stayed with computing longer than cheese: you know it today as IBM.