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The Muncie-made forerunner of the “Vegematic”

National Phenomenon

Many of you will remember the Vegematic, made by Ronco and heavily advertised on TV.  The promise was that “It slices, dices, chops and peels, makes thousands of julienne fries in seconds!” Well, to show that there is nothing new under the sun, Muncie had its own version of a similar kitchen specialty back in the early 1920s.

Local Innovation

Muncie resident M. H. Tyler invented the Ideal Fibre Cutter and ran his manufacturing operation out of his East Washington Street home, with reasonable but limited success. As you can see from the photograph, the Ideal Fibre Cutter looks a little dangerous – almost like a hatchet with two adjustable blades.

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In 1920, Portland native, Jay Sowers, bought the company and brought in his brother, James Sowers, as advertising manager. They decided that marketing was the answer to selling the utensil. The Ideal Fibre Cutter became the “Handiest Tool in the Kitchen,” and carried the Good Housekeeping Institute Seal of Approval.

Sales Efforts & Legacy

More than 1,000 door-to-door salesmen set out to demonstrate to the housewife that she could not live without this remarkable gadget that was a meat tenderizer, a mince knife, a cleaver, an ice tool, a fish scaler, a nut crumbler, a pot and pan scraper and almost anything you could ask. Who wouldn’t want this one simple tool that could take care of so many kitchen chores?

Sales efforts must have been successful, as many of the cutters are still around. You can often find them in antique stores and on eBay. Is there one in your kitchen?

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minnetrista collects the objects and archival material that document the people, places, events, organisations, businesses and industry of the region – in other words, the history of east central indiana.

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