Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Ugandan Bottle Opener
In the US, when we go into a convenience store or a deli to buy a soft drink or juice, we receive it in a plastic bottle or a can.
In the Gulf, it's the same. But in the Gulf, the cans have pull tabs. Pop tops. We'd collect them and make necklaces out of them when I was a kid. True, they weren't very attractive necklaces.
Another thing we'd do when I was a kid was collect soda bottles. We'd return to the the supermarket to collect money, which I'm sure was used to buy candy and not to contribute to household expenses. Kids are slackers.
We no longer have so many glass soda bottles in the US, but returnable glass bottles are still used throughout large parts of the world. The system works. There is an initial deposit on the drinks in addition to the normal cost. Then you bring the bottle back later, turn it in and buy a new drink. You only pay the deposit once. We'd save up all the bottles in a crate in Uganda, and then take them all back at once and buy a new crate, or just get back the deposit if we'd collected extras from the never-ending stream of visitors.
But having bottles around means having to open them with a bottle-opener. In the US, most glass bottles are used for beer, not for soda. And I don't know much about beer, but I think lots of beer bottle caps are twist-off.
Still, my Ugandan bottle opener is a popular item in my household. People like to use it even when the lids twist off. Why? Because it's so clever, simple, and practical. People marvel at its simplicity.
The Ugandan bottle opener is simply a wooden mallet with a screw strategically placed on it. Hold the screw under the rim of the bottle cap and lift.
It's not like Ugandans don't have metal bottle openers. Uganda has as much "Made in China" stuff as the next country. But everyone I saw there preferred the Ugandan bottle opener. Because it's cool, simple, and kind of funny. And you can make one at home with a piece of wood and a screw.