If you live in the UK or USA, you have probably gone to your local supermarket or department store and at some point come across an announcement on the loudspeaker telling you that in 10 minutes that if you go to aisle so and so, you will receive a free paring knife or garnishing spiral knife. You wait for ages by a small table clothed stand and wait for way longer than 10 minutes. The demonstrator finally arrives and asks everyone to move really close to the stand so that people watching are out of the way and so that the demonstrator can see who will get a free knife.
Feeling like a sheep in a rounded up herd the next stage of the demonstration is a reminder that you will all receive either a free paring knife or a free spiral garnishing knife. The demonstrator reveals a purpose built table with slots drilled out for rubbish and a chopping board. All other equipment is located underneath on shelves under the table. They tell you that the knife that you are getting for free is worth loads of money and are also used at well known restaurants all over the country/world. In return for getting a free knife they politely ask that you stay for a short demo on the world’s sharpest knife and then straight after that demo everyone who has been watching will get a free knife/spiral thing. The demonstrator then gets everyone to acknowledge this request by saying something positive like ‘yes’. Some demonstrators don’t bother with this stage especially if it’s a small crowd.
The demonstrator then goes on to show off an odd looking orange plastic thing and not the forever sharp knife they promised. They do this by asking spectators ‘Can anyone tell me what this is?’ Someone in the crowd usually will know what it is because they have been to so many of these bloody demonstrations. The demonstrator then puts this contraption into an orange prefilled with orange juice and turns it upside down to demonstrate that it pours out orange juice with minimal effort. (some will actually demonstrate properly and screw into an orange and squeeze the juice out). They add that it’s a gadget all the way from Florida – I’m guessing to associate Florida orange juice with the device. To get the wow factor going they give away a few of theses to the people who got the answer right and to anyone who looks disabled. Finally they get round to the demonstration of the forever sharp knife.
The demonstrator got out the forever sharp knife from under the purpose built stand which looked like some sort of combat knife with a cheap bit of moulded plastic stuck onto the end of it. The demonstrator announces that the knife has only just come out to market and is currently only available from them that day on a special offer before the knives go on public sale and will soon be appearing on shelves all over the UK in the next few days/weeks including the store/supermarket they are currently holding the demonstration. The demonstrator holds it high up with one hand holding it parallel to the ground with the other hand pointing to the various features. The features are that it is made from surgical stainless steel conjuring up images of razor sharp blades used to cut open human skin. Wow! That must be sharp! It has a serrated edge as well which is useful for all sorts of things like cutting bread. Last but not least it comes with a carving fork for your meat after cutting it or as a prodder for anything else you can think of.
It’s so amazing that the demonstrator gets out a tomato to cut. The demonstrator makes a really big deal out of cutting a tomato into really thin slices (I saw one who couldn’t cut thin slices which I thought was funny – just huge uneven slices) and says that a normal knife can’t do the same thing after owning one for a while. I can’t disagree more but anyway let me continue… ‘No longer do you have to sharpen your knife ever again with the forever sharp knife. To show you how strong this knife is I’m going to cut through this hammer.’ Says the demonstrator as spectator’s eyes are now seriously interested in this amazing product. This is the clever illusion of the demonstration and a lot of people will buy these knives just because of this trick. I’ll talk about the trick later down the post…
The demonstrator adds the reassurance of a lifetime guarantee on the knife with a cheaply printed bit of paper that resembles a fake counterfeit note designed by a 5 year old. At this point the demonstrator asked if anyone owned one of these knives. An old lady immediately responded saying that they were really sharp and a great product. Even more people are amazed and interested. The demonstrator should have continued… instead they asked if anyone else owned one of these knives.
Just to give you some history – I’ve been to about 5 of these demonstrations and I bought a set the 2nd time I saw the demonstration because I thought it would make a good gift for my mum who doesn’t ever sharpen her knives. That was over 2 years ago. Remember that at each of these demonstrations they always state that the knives have only just come to market – well that just isn’t true. My mother has used the knife less than I have used it when I have just visited and they do go blunt regardless of the speil the demonstrators give you. The worst thing is that you can’t sharpen them because of the design of the serrated edge which sticks out from the knife. so anyway back to the demonstration – I shouted out that I owned some. I then explained to the gathered crowd that the knives do go blunt and that I had owned the knives for more than 2 years. I just lost the demonstrator more than a handful of sales. They tried rebuking me by telling me that I did not own one of their knives because it had just come to market but I reminded them that on the ‘made in china’ (not from florida) box of knives they were selling, the company name was Twin Towers Trading Ltd. They’ve been trading for years selling the same product telling the same lies and showing off the same illusions. Their parent company is based in the states and the manufacturer are some dudes in China. The other thing they neglect to inform would be owners is the weight – or lack of it. They may be sharp but try cutting through something more dense than a tomato – for example beef and you got some issues. They will try to make out that it will cut through ice – well they should do that demo instead then shouldn’t they!
So onto the hard sell bit of the demo. People who were put off still stayed because of the free paring knife/spiral garnish thing. The hard sell bit comes really thick and fast and the demonstrator tells everyone that the retail price is something like £19.99 but they couldn’t do anything on discounting the price. Instead they will sell you the second knife for just £2 extra bringing the new current total to £22. Not only that – the second knife also comes with a lifetime guarantee. That juicer from earlier – remember the doubts you had of the knife before? – not any more because those memories have been replaced with the juicer demo you saw earlier which is now free and included with the 2 forever sharp knives, the knives that require no sharpening – the knives with a lifetime guarantee. Even better now the demonstrator pulls out a fish knife and explains what it does. As most people have never seen one before they are amazed at the sight of a flexible blade that can skin fish and vegetables. The demonstrator skins the end of the tomato from earlier in the demo. The fish knife is yours – so not only do you get the 2 forever sharp knives, you also get the juicer thing and a fish knife all for only £22. Then out comes another freebie – this time it’s a paring knife. This knife is used for cutting through veg. No demo required. It’s near the end of the pitch so no more thinking time for the customer. Forget the one paring knife – you’ll now get 2. So now you get the 2 forever sharp knives, the juicer thing, the fish knife and 2 paring knives. Wow! What a bargain – all for only £22. Only today – limited offer before they retail for between £3.99 and £20 a knife. All with the lifetime guarantee. There are still some doubters in the crowd so the demonstrator diverts their sensible rational ‘Is this too good to be true’ side and ask a diversion question ‘ So you’re asking yourself, why would you need 2 forever sharp knives if one stays sharp forever?’ This diversion draws the speed of the previous part of the pitch down slightly and gives people thinking time – but crucially on the demonstrators terms. You are not asking the questions anymore – they are! They follow on quickly again explaining that you can give away the £20 knives as gifts for family and friends. Spread the magic of forever sharp with all your loved ones. You’re not being selfish any more by buying these magic knives for yourself whilst you were out doing the weekly/Christmas shop – you are now buying a gift for birthday/Christmas present for other people. Oh and to make things even sweeter you are now getting a 3rd forever sharp knife for free. So for £22 you now get 3 forever sharp knives that go blunt, a juicer thing which breaks after a couple of uses and is a bit naff, a flexible fish knife that snaps and 2 paring knives. ‘Hands up who wants to take advantage of this deal today?’ Slowly the hands go up one by one. The demonstrator then hands out the free product which adds to a perception of honesty for the consumer. The demonstrator asks for another show of hands again for the product and a few more hands appear. The demonstrator thanks them and hands out either the box of product straight away or a voucher to be exchanged for the product at a specified till. One or two thinkers feel they might miss out later and come back for the start of the next demo to grab a voucher/box of product. Job done! No one ever held this cheaply made product in their hand once or asked to buy just one forever sharp knife for the retail price of £19.99. People are greedy and will pay the extra £2 for an extra 5 knives and a juicer thing.
So now that people have gone away with their super sharp knives with nowhere to store them – this is how the hammer trick is done. The knife is actually super light in weight. It is made of hard steel like Japanese knives hence it is also thin and will hardly require any sharpening. A hammer is made of relatively soft metal and the physics will dictate that a harder metal can ‘saw’ through a softer metal. I say ‘saw’ because the serrated edge picks up extra fibres just like sawdust when sawing wood. This gives the amazing illusion that the knife is super sharp and will stay sharp forever.
Japanese knives are forged in a similar way and are also lightweight. The major difference is that Japanese knives tend to be well balanced by being higher and shorter in length. The handles tend to be a million times better than the forever sharp knives too. No serration required either. These knives cannot be sharpened with a normal sharpening steel, instead a new edge needs to be made with the use of a sharpening wet stone. This takes ages and if done by an amateur, can end up in a permanently dented or bent blade.
In the West, the best knives in the world are all made in a small city in West Germany called Solingen. This is the home of massive knife brands like Wüsthof and J. A. Henckels. Here the knives are heavy in weight being made from a softer carbon forged steel. These knives are well balanced and require little effort from the user when sharp, as the weight cuts through things very easily.
Cheap knives in the west are also made this way but are just made of cheaper steel and cheapo material is used for the handle making the balance uneven or inconsistent. Either way the knives will stay sharp if sharpened with a steel before every use. This is where most people fail with a knife. Most people don’t even own a sharpening tool of any sort, or if they do own one, they hardly ever use it. Most knife cuts in the kitchen are caused by blunt knifes slipping off items. A sharp knife is much safer in use as the knife will cut through where you point the thing, allowing the weight of the knife to cut for you. I cook almost every day and I sharpen my knives before every single use, not just every day. I like my knives razor sharp – as a result I save loads of preparation time and have never cut myself in the kitchen.
One more thing – you can also buy folded steel knives which are super hard and also heavy. They are distinguished by cool ‘rings’ which allow the user to see how many times the metal has been folded on itself. These knives also stay really sharp for a long time but will go super blunt if not sharpened often. did I mention these look really cool? They are also really expensive.
Any decent chef will sharpen their knives very regularly and I recommend you do too. Forget the cheap feel of the forever sharp knives and just invest in a decent set of knives and a steel instead. During sale time there are always sets for less than £22 – I bought a set the other day in the Debenhams sale for £20 which included 7 knives, a steel and a wooden block to hold them in. Far better value than the forever sharp knives being demonstrated in the same store for £2 more!
I realise that the Forever sharp knives are cheap compared to very good knives but if you are interested in owning some excellent quality knives (that really will last a lifetime) then take a look at what’s in my kitchen in this link
For more information on what knives to buy, please watch the below video on youtube which I made over 3 years ago.