Kitchn Love Letters

The Grandma-Approved, Old-School Gadget That Organizes My Kitchen

updated Jun 1, 2021
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I knew I needed this label maker after my friend (and lifestyle guru), Rebeccah, sent me a perfect Christmas package. The gift inside was delightful, but it’s the wrapping that still stands out in my mind: simple brown kraft paper, butcher’s twine, and a little red embossed label. When I thanked her for the present, and couldn’t shut up about the packaging, she introduced me to the old-school MoTEX Embossing Label Maker. It’s the same model she played with at her grandmother’s house three decades ago, but it was big news to me. 

To type out a word, you turn the rotating dial to the letter you want and give the handle a good squeeze. You hear a faint click and feel a little punch, and you’re well on your way to label perfection! You keep rotating and squeezing and the embossed, adhesive-backed label chugs along until you’re done “typing.” Then there’s a blade inside the device to neatly snip the label off the roll, and voilà! It’s basic (that’s the point), but you do have a couple of customization options: You can change the font plate (but the classic typewriter style letters are almost too good to mess with) and then, there’s the color of the tape.

Credit: Katie Leaird

The best part? This gadget requires nothing more than a firm grip and a little dexterity. There’s no app to download, no printer cartridge to refill, no syncing necessary, and thank goodness, no power cord or charger. The labels are smudge-proof, not to mention bad-handwriting-day-proof, and they bring a little uniformity to the recycled storage bottles in my pantry. 

Credit: Katie Leaird

When I first got my MoTEX, I pulled an all-nighter (college-style!), labeling just about everything in my pantry, because who can resist? Then I started in on the bathroom and launched into all my toddler’s stuff! I used it for my little pasta business, too, labeling boxes of ravioli by flavor and stamping out basic cooking instructions. My freezer now looks like it’s sponsored by MoTEX, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Every so often, I stick an encouraging message to the side of my coffee mug for the next morning. And sometimes I add ridiculous labels to objects to give future-me a giggle! (Maybe I should label the label maker?) The uses are endless!

Credit: Katie Leaird

It’s not for everyone — using an embosser takes longer than scribbling with a Sharpie or printing labels in bulk on a computerized system. But the process relaxes me. It creates a moment to think about what I’m cooking, who it’s for, and how I’m going to pack it up and store it. It brings intention and organization to a hectic day. Now, even if my kitchen is a mess after a busy cooking day, at least it’s a perfectly labeled mess.

Do you have a handy label maker you love? Tell us about it in the comments below!