I’m 29 years old, and I can still remember a time when salt and pepper shakers were a regular staple on the tablecloth of every restaurant. If you were superstitious and accidentally spilled some, it was vital to throw a pinch over your left shoulder to ward off evil spirits. If you were a bored kid, the shakers, combined with the napkins and toothpicks that came in the kit, provided ample tools to build a table fort.
Now, especially if you live in New York City, you’ll have noticed recently that salt shakers are starting to mysteriously vanish from the tables. The phenomenon prompted a recent investigation by Bloomberg, who asked some of New York City’s top chefs why that’s the case. Here are the top reasons they have disappeared. And for more great food trivia, check out the Wild Story of How the Club Sandwich Got Its Name.
The Salt Is Low Quality These Days
As a mass product, the salt contained in shakers tends to be a low-cost variety that’s no longer compatible with today’s market, where everything has to be harvested from the Greek islands or the Himalayas in order to compete.
Chefs Don’t Want You Over-salting
The old saying about how you shouldn’t salt your food because it insults the chef is true. Adding too much salt to a dish can really ruin the meal, so chefs put a lot of care into making sure the dish has just the right amount of seasoning, and they don’t want you to spoil it.
There’s No Room on the Tables
Since not very many people actually use the salt and pepper shakers, there’s not a lot of reason to have them clutter up what is already a finite amount of space.
You’d be surprised, but according to Josh Capon of Bowery Meat Company, replacing the outdated salt and pepper shakers with classy bowls filled with chunky flakes of high-quality salt just resulted in the bowls mysteriously disappearing. If you ever went to an old-school restaurant with your grandmother, you know there are people who think slipping the salt shaker into your purse (along with a handful of napkins and toothpicks) is included in the price of the bill.
Too Much Salt Is Bad For You
While the Bloomberg article doesn’t mention this, I’d wager that one of the reasons salt shakers have disappeared is because there’s been more of a focus in recent years on how consuming too much salt is bad for your heart and can cause bloating.
Recent research on the Mediterranean diet shows that Italians, who are some of the healthiest citizens on Earth, season within reason and avoid canned products that are packed with salt to keep them fresh. Other recent studies have found a strong correlation between salt and rising obesity rates, which is why we suggested cutting down in our 100 Motivational Weight-Loss Tips for Summer.
So as much as we may nostalgic for those shakers, it’s probably for the best that they have gone out of style.
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