Unitasker Wednesday: Mystery Unitasker!

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Instead of putting the product name in the headline and immediately telling you what this week’s item is used for, I thought it would be fun to have you guess:

What do you think? It looks like a fork, right? But it’s not a regular fork. Gotcha! No, it’s a very special tool for only one purpose. What could it be?!

Surprise! It’s a Potato Fork!

You use it to grab potatoes out of boiling water instead of using your bare hands. What’s that? You never use your bare hands to retrieve potatoes out of boiling water (because you have a brain in your head)? You just dump the pot of water and potatoes into a strainer and drain off the water? Or, you use a slotted spoon or a wire skimmer to retrieve those hot potatoes out of the water? Wow, you are resourceful! I can’t believe you didn’t buy a specialty fork for $21 to do this very specific task for you. You really are amazing.

And, you look very handsome/beautiful today, too.

Thanks for playing our game of Mystery Unitasker, and we appreciate reader Karen for sharing this Unitasker with us.

24 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Mystery Unitasker!”

  1. posted by Cherilyn on

    Wait, not only could you use this to pull potatoes out of boiling water, you could use it to hold onto the potato when you are peeling it. And I think that would be useful for other veggies you had to peel as well. You know, if you were not able to hold it with your hand without peeling your hand. I bet there are people who have that problem…

  2. posted by Angela on

    LOL In my family we have a potato fork that is used for testing doneness of boiling potatoes. Like the one above it has sharp tines which make it good for poking the potato to see if it’s soft. It’s been in the family since my great grandparents, although I assume it was once used as an actual fork. Is ours a unitasker? Yup…but it’s also got a lot of sentimental value and makes me smile every time we use it.

  3. posted by Martin on

    Have you ever peeled a very hot boiled potato? If you’ll do next time, think of this useful unitasker – you can find it nearly in every household in Germany

  4. posted by Johanna on

    I love my potatoe fork! It’s the only fork that let’s me grab hot potatoes from the water without the potatoe sliding of the fork and peeling is so much easier! I have a pretty clutter free household but my potatoe fork lives happily in it.

  5. posted by Another Deb on

    I would use this to pierce potatoes before baking. oh, wait, I already have a tool for that, a corn holder! That wouldn’t help me fish potatoes out of boiling water, though.

  6. posted by Erin Doland on

    This is an honest to goodness confusion here … Why would you peel a potato AFTER you’ve boiled it? I almost always peel potatoes before boiling. Is there a reason not to do this, culinarily speaking? Second, on the rare occasion I have first boiled a potato before peeling it, I’ve then just grabbed the skin and pulled it off the potato, I wear a silicon oven mitt to do this, and the mitt’s grips make it come off in one whole piece. Like this, but faster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmOX7rS99Pw Seriously, am I missing something? I’m not trying to be condescending I am sincerely curious.

  7. posted by Marie on

    There may be other reasons, but my mother always insisted
    when making potato salad it is best to leave the skin on before boiling. That way potatoes are done, but haven’t absorbed too much water and become mushy. We wait ’til cool to peel. No need for this tool either. We use a regular fork for testing and drain with a colander.

  8. posted by ChrisD on

    I’m half Swiss and when we eat raclett we boil new potatoes, put the hot potatoes in an insulated basket and put this on top of the raclett heater on the table to keep warm.
    Then you have the hot potatoes on the table and you peel the skin off at your plate before pouring on the melted cheese (not me, I eat the skin).
    By removing the peel after boiling only a very thin layer of skin is lost. If you peeled the potatoes before boiling them you would loose a lot more food. Also there may be taste issues as my grandmother always peeled the potatoes for potato salad after boiling. My gran always said that English potatoes in the 80s were rubbish and she wasn’t surprised that we didn’t like them, so the fork may be intended for a different variety of potato than you are used to (e.g. potatoes for chips are very different).
    So whenever you have raclett, not only do you have a set of scrapers for the cheese, you also have a potato fork for each person (my gran’s had wooden handles, surely much cheaper, possibly included with the raclett set).

  9. posted by Judith on

    I pretty much always boil my potatoes with the skin. I cut them somewhat smaller (depending on size) and in the water they go. Peeling the skin while they are still hot after cooking is so much quicker than peeling beforehand (or I hate it less, also possible) and I lose zero edible part of the potato. They also peel better then than after having cooled off, for some reason.

    I also like to cook more than I need and keep some for potatosalad or home fries, which needs potatoes that weren’t boiled on the same day (the starch settles, and I can cut slim pieces that don’t fall apart). Stored with the peel still on, there’s less surface to dry out.

    I usually use a normal fork if I stick them onto something for peeling, or use my bare fingers like my mom. But I have considered getting one of these forks, the thinner tines have several advantages: they are less likely to break smaller potatoes in pieces, the potato sticks more securely on them for some reason (maybe because they are round, and thin? no idea) and, most importantly, because there’s more space the potato skin peels off between them instead of breaking around the tines of a regular fork.

    I never heard of that pull-off method before, but needing ice-water for it would probably mean I’d never do it. Even without, would the handling of the cooked potato not mean there’s cleaning up to do on the silicon-mitt (honest question, it’s a completely new idea to me).

    Those potato-forks are quite common here (Germany), depending on region »Pellkartoffeln« (Potaoes in the peel, basically) is a food option just like home fries or mashed potatoes. You can get sets for people peeling them at the dinner table. However, I’d never spend 21$ for a single one, and also always strain my potatoes instead of picking them out of the water one by one.

    So, unitasker, yes, but a good one if you frequently eat potatoes.

    (I never typed the word potato that often before – there is indeed a first for everything)

  10. posted by ChrisD on

    I just watched the video. A pan of iced water at the dinner table with everyone reaching across would make a huge mess and make the potatoes cold.
    Also raclett is a leisurely meal as you have to wait for the cheese to melt, so plenty of time to peel the potatoes at the table. Also as mentioned, you only peel the ones you eat, and keep the leftovers in their skins.
    Next you’ll be saying that a hunting spear is uni-tasker because no-one hunts game in New-York. Still this is a good way to learn about other cultures.

  11. posted by Erin Doland on

    I don’t eat potato salad (at least not stuff with mayonnaise in it since I’m allergic to eggs) and I have only had/done raclett once (and then thought I might die, as I’m also lactose intolerant). It’s all starting to make sense to me as to why I had no idea there was any sort of reason to boil a potato in the skin. The more you know, people! 🙂

  12. posted by Jen on

    To me the question is why would you peel a potato at all? All the best flavour is in the skin! I don’t even peel them when I’m mashing – sure, the mash is a little lumpier, but it tastes better 🙂

  13. posted by meghan on


    next time let us guess in the comments! I was going to guess olive retriever!

  14. posted by bouncy on

    Like others already mentioned, it’s for new potatoes when their skin is too thin and one would peel too much of the actual potato using a regular vegetable peeler. Also, the new potatoes were always so small – this nifty fork was awesome. We used to peel the hot potatoes at the table and my mom (who’s from Germany) made quark with chives and we ate just the potatoes with quark and butter. Yum.

  15. posted by Sabine on

    Here in Germany it’s common practice to boil potatoes first and peel them afterwards. They dish even has a name: Pellkartoffeln (my translation site calls it jacket potatoes).

    There are traditional ways to eat them. Like with Quark and Onions or with Leberwurst (liverwurst), lettuce, mustard and garlic (my favorite).

    And of course potatoe salad (in my home never mixed with mayonnaise but with hot broth, vinegar, oil, nutmeg and onions)

    Peeled potatoes before cooking have a name as well: Salzkartoffeln (salted potatoes).

    Those two types taste completely different and are served with different dishes.

  16. posted by Stefanie (radieschen:lespetitsradis) on

    How funny, this seems to be another unitasker that many Germans seem to use frequently. It reminds me of the asparagus peeler that was posted here a while ago:
    In fact, both of them are typically used in the same dish in springtime: White (!) asparagus, boiled potatoes, and ham. No need for a third unitasker for the ham, though.

  17. posted by ChrisD on

    Though pellkartoffeln is translated as jacket potatoes, they are different varieties. Jacket potatoes in the UK (and the ones I had in Germany) have huge thick skins that many people don’t eat, while the sort of potato you peel at the table have super thin skins (which I also prefer to just eat).
    My grandmothers (Swiss) potato salad is also with a stock cube, salad dressing etc as @Sabine. It’s so much nicer than just tipping mayo on.
    And I’ve learned something new too, as when you said you had an egg allergy I thought you meant intolerance. But I checked it out on wikipedia and it is bonafide immune problem going through your antibodies. I didn’t know food did that, I thought it was all intolerances.

  18. posted by Sabine on

    I don’t like the potatoes with the thin skin because they are too “watery” for my taste. I prefer them starchy.

    @Stefanie, you are right. The potatoe fork might be a unitasker but it’s a necessary AND useful tool for peeling Pellkartoffeln.
    With a normal fork the poatoes tend to break easily while a potatoe fork “grabs” them much better.

    I never use the fork for getting the potatoes out of the pot though. In fact they stay IN the pot all the time. The water is drained, the pot put back on the flame so that they rest of the liquid vaporizes.

  19. posted by Me on

    Personally I love unitaskers and have a house full of them.
    – my tv does nothing but show programmes
    – my landline does nothing but let me talk to people
    – my washing machine does nothing but clean my clothes
    – my cooker does nothing but let me cook food
    – my hoover does nothing but let me clean my house
    – my chairs do nothing but provide somewhere for people to sit.

    I agree with removing the unnecessary from the home but the fact that a tool is specialised and only serves one purpose is not necessarily a bad thing and what is very important and useful varies from individual to individual so lets not be judgemental.

  20. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Me — Unitaskers are single purpose items without utility. A toilet, a fire extinguisher, they both only do one thing, but they have extremely high utility … and therefore aren’t unitaskers. They’re just single-purpose items.

    For the purposes of our weekly column, we choose items that the average person has no need to own. However, that isn’t really how we choose items to feature each week. The items we picked are done so based on if they make me laugh.

    That’s it. If it makes Erin laugh, it will likely be featured. Like the tug of war rope we featured earlier this month. I’m still laughing about that one. A rope with a knot tied in it for three times the price of the exact same rope without a knot tied in it. Hysterical.

    So, each week we laugh. Life is too short not to laugh. And physical objects don’t have feelings or souls or egos. It’s just stuff. Making fun of stuff is fine. And it’s totally okay if you own a unitasker. Heck, I own at least two we’ve featured on the site this year. I probably own more than a dozen that we’ve featured over the years. And, since there aren’t unclutterer police or unitasker laws, it’s totally fine that I own them.

    We also only feature items that are mass produced. We don’t want to pick on some individual inventor or creator. We only mention items without direct connections to one person. So, for example, we don’t feature items from Etsy.

    It’s just for fun. And, we know from manufacturers that their sales spike after we feature the items. Why or how, I’ll never know. But I kind of think that is awesome, too. I don’t know why. But it makes me happy.

  21. posted by Sandy on

    Interesting. To me a potato fork is what one uses to dig potatoes (BIG fork, size of a spade). I still have the one my parents had, though I don’t have a garden. I use mine to turn the compost.

  22. posted by Christine in Australia on

    I’ve always thought “useless-tasker” is better than “unitasker.”

  23. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Christine — Oooh! I like “useless-tasker!” Unfortunately, that didn’t come to mind when we were looking to name the feature seven years ago. Instead, we went with Alton Brown’s word “unitasker” since so many people were fans of his show “Good Eats,” which was still on the air back then.

  24. posted by Pat Reble on

    I’d laugh, but I was once given a smaller version of this gadget, called and “Aunties Finger” for fishing olives out of jars. I never used it for the purpose it was designed for, but it was WONDERFUL for grabbing things out of impossible spaces (like the Lego the kids posted into the video). When it finally broke I even replaced it. Imagine my surprise when I became a prison officer and found them in the search kits to retrieve things prisoners had stuffed into inaccessible corners. I suspect the potato fork may have similar uses, smiles….

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