Salt and Pepper Shakers - History and Usage

History and Usage

Salt and pepper shakers can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, glass, metal, and ceramic. Salt shakers became increasingly common after anti-caking agents were introduced by the Morton Salt company in the 1920s. The Great Depression of the 1930s boosted the popularity of salt and pepper shakers as global ceramics producers concentrated on inexpensive items.

Except in the most casual dining establishments, they are usually provided as a matched set, sometimes distinguishable only by the number of holes on the top of the shaker. Designs range from small, plain glass screw cap containers (invented by John Landis Mason, inventor of the Mason jar) to more ornate works of art. Sometimes the design refers to some pair of related objects—such as a replica of a West Highland White Terrier containing salt and a Scottish Terrier containing pepper. Designs may also relate to specific occasions or holidays. As a result of this diversity of design, collecting salt and pepper shakers is a hobby. Design of salt and pepper shakers has also been used to transmit cultural perspectives about race and other cultural values.

The number and size of holes on salt shakers has been observed to influence consumption of salt, within limits, and it has been suggested that proper selection of shakers delivering smaller amounts may be a means to improve diet by reducing sodium consumption. Salt shakers will typically have fewer holes than pepper shakers. As an alternative to salt and pepper shakers, pepper may be distributed at the table by use of a pepper grinder, while salt may be distributed from a salt cellar or a salt mill.

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