Forget the Spiralizer — This ’90s Throwback Gadget Is Changing My Salad Game

updated Dec 20, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Everyone seems to love spiralizers, those handy gadgets that help you spin vegetables like zucchini and sweet potatoes into dupes for noodles (aka zoodles). They first became popular about five years ago, catapulting the humble green squash to celebrity status right alongside the gadget that so elegantly spins it into strings.

But way before that, an appliance company created a gadget that, I would argue, is not only more durable than many of those zoodle makers out there, but also infinitely more multifunctional. It’s called the Salad Shooter.

History of the Salad Shooter

Wisconsin-based Presto (now National Presto Industries) was founded in 1905 and rose to notoriety for its stovetop pressure cooker, introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York; it was the Instant Pot of its day. After more product launches, most of which proved to be duds — like the HotDogger hot dog cooker — it debuted the more successful FryBaby and FryDaddy electric fryers, followed by the almighty Salad Shooter in 1988.

Credit: Kelsey Ogletree

We’ve had a salad shooter in our house most of my life. My mom received it as a Christmas gift from my grandparents around 1990. They may have seen the magazine advertisement with the clever “Point and shoot!” tagline, which showed a perfectly manicured hand lining up perfectly shaped slices of cucumber cut with the gadget. But they weren’t alone — the machine was an incredibly popular gadget.

Described as “a truly innovative hand-held appliance” by the company, it was designed to help home cooks easily slice and shred vegetables and fruits. But as my mom discovered — and later commercials showed — it did that and much more.

How the Salad Shooter Works

A Salad Shooter comes with two plastic-and-metal inserts, which spin around via an electric motor: one slices food and one shreds. Food goes into a little chute at the top and when the motor is activated, the insert spins, sending sliced or shredded bits out the front.

Every Christmas Eve my mom uses the slicer to make super-thin potatoes for our traditional scalloped potatoes and ham dinner. While making tacos during a recent visit to my parents’ house, my mom whipped out the Salad Shooter and shredded an entire block of cheese in about 10 seconds (my brothers love their cheddar, okay?).

But I’ve recently found that the most perfect season to use a Salad Shooter is the fall. It saves loads of time prepping veggie-heavy mains, like stews and soups, or slicing ingredients like celery and onions for stuffing. Sweet potato casserole becomes a cinch with the slicing attachment — and the uniform slivers look a lot more attractive, too.

Heck, the Salad Shooter even comes in handy for dessert! It’s a whiz at churning graham crackers or Oreos into crumbs for pie crusts, can easily shred chocolate for topping any kind of dessert, and it chops nuts for treats like pecan pie in seconds. Okay, maybe I sound a bit like an infomercial, but trust me: When it comes to functionality, this thing basically puts spiralizers to shame.

The Salad Shooter you can buy today doesn’t look much different from the one my mom got as a gift 30 years ago. But that’s because it doesn’t need to. Get yourself a salad shooter and put it to good use, and there’s a good chance it’ll turn into your go-to gadget for decades to come, as well.

Buy: Presto Salad Shooter, $36.43 (normally $49.99)