Have you ever thought you added pepper to a dish, only to find out that it was clumped together in your shaker, and you actually added nothing? Have you ever thought to yourself there has to be an easier way to get salt out of a container than shaking it like you're banging a gavel in a courtroom? Well, it looks like a recent viral video has a tip for you.
On December 30, 2018, Twitter user CreepyKellie shared an unusual technique for getting pepper out of a pepper shaker. Kellie tweeted a video of the technique after showing her excited mother, and in the short clip, Kellie turns a clogged pepper shaker upside down before rubbing the bottom of an accompanying salt shaker around the bottom of the overturned pepper. The technique causes a vibration that releases all the pepper you would ever need.
Since sharing the video days ago, the nine-second video has gone viral (although unfortunately not with Kellie — with another Twitter user who posted Kellie's video without credit). In total, the video has garnered almost 20 million views, 160,000 retweets, and 383,000 likes, solely on the tweeting platform. As expected, Twitter users have expressed their total shock that they didn't know about this technique before. Honestly, I'm shocked too.
Do Those Shaker Ridges Actually Have a Purpose?
It's hard to pin down exactly when salt and pepper shakers in their current form came into use, although conventional knowledge purports that it would have been after Morton Salt Company added magnesium carbonate to their formula 1911 to make salt flow instead of sit there like a block of, well, salt. Manufacturing of salt and pepper shakers happened after the Depression, and mass production really took off after 1960, but as to their current form, with those ridges, it remains unclear.
To get to the bottom of this, I went straight to the experts: the proprietor of the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
"It's a cute idea, but I doubt that's the reason those ridges are at the bottom of your salt and pepper shakers," said Andrea Ludden, curator at the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum, to Kitchn over the phone. Ludden had already seen the video, and was immediately ready to comment on the matter with a salient point. "Most glass jars, like mason jars, have those ridges."
Ludden is totally right: Pick up any Bell jar, glass Coca-Cola bottle, or fancy jar of peanut butter, and turn it upside down to see that those bumps are under almost everything made of glass for storing food and drink. But there has to be a reason for that, right?
The Reason We Have Ridges on Glass Storage Jars
As it turns out, people on the internet have asked this question many times before — just not in relation to salt and pepper shakers. Way back in 2016, on question-and-answer site Quora, a user posed the question, "Why do all glass bottles have textured bottoms?". The most upvoted answer, by Buster Smith, a man claiming to be a commercial glass subcontractor for the past decade, states a very plausible answer.
"As a cold glass sits in a room-temperature environment, the glass begins to collect condensation. This condensation tends to slide down the side of the glass and collect at the base of the glass," Smith states on Quora. To prevent that condensation from causing the container to slide on the surface it sits on, Smith claims ridges are added to prevent breaks and spills in the kitchen or on the dinner table.
As any of us who have eaten at diners or fast-casual restaurants know, a cup of fountain soda on your table is a recipe for a wet table disaster, and your salt and pepper don't need to be sliding around like two skaters on Rockefeller Plaza.
Kellie's trick is super cool, but once you think about it for a minute ... it's just a cool trick. As SPS museum curator Ludden prepared to get off the phone and back to her collection of over 20,000 sets of S&P shakers, she made another great point as to why those ridges don't make much sense for mealtime seasoning dispensing. "Who would really want that much salt and pepper on their food anyway?" she asked.