Teeny Opener, Great Huge Can

On the go can opener

A happy QBO ‘David and Goliath’ story: first is ‘David’, this handy, tiny-but-mighty tool; SO tiny we don’t sell them individually but we do get them in our $1 grab-bags, emergency gear, or military, camping, and Boy Scout mess kits. Look close and you might find one.

If you served in the military before sealed-pouch MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat), you know these micro-sharps as the P 38 and P-51 Can Opener that once helped hungry soldiers open canned C-Rations. The not-so-tasty C- Ration was first issued to American G.I.s in WWII and each had a can-opening ‘key’ soldered to the lid. However that key could get lost so P-38s were backups, like a small spare tire. These here are marked “U.S. Speaker”, “129-9982 B. A.W. ^ 1975”, “U.S. Koolaire 1951”, “Safesport” and “Shelby” – 5 different makers! The sugar packet-sized envelopes have different graphics but share a regulation text. The P-38 is just 1 & 1/2″ and myth has it that “38” is the number of cuts necessary to get a C-Ration open. But the P-51, introduced in the 1960s, is 1/2″ longer to open cans more efficiently (less cuts), so the myth doesn’t quite make sense. Anyhoo…

The very first tiny can openers were invented in 1914 for British WWI troops. Called either KF6314s after their stock number, or ‘the MORFED’ after their maker, Morfed South Wales Ltd., hundreds of thousands of ‘Baby Can Openers’ were issued. Later N.A.T.O. forces also carried the tiny openers and thus they have disseminated across the planet.

The sterilizer hole lets you carry your P-38 on a keyring or sling it around your neck along with your dog tags, but if you’re concerned about it accidentally unfolding, (a rare but painful occurrence!) its flat profile is ideal for slipping into your wallet so that you, like a good Boy Scout, can always be prepared.

On the ‘Goliath’ side we have this GIANT can of Gluten-Free Black Bean Burger Mix by Augason Farms. Like C Rations, Augason food is sealed in cans needing a can opener. Unlike C-Rations (and MREs) which have a shelf-life of 3-4 years, Augason foods are shelf-stable 5-25 years! This is because foods in C-Rations and MREs are wet, i.e. gravy-soaked stews. Augason Farms’ food is freeze-dried before being hermetically sealed. And QBO sells them at less than retail, so they are popular!

Augason Farms is a family-run business out of Salt Lake City, Utah. The Augason family are members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) whose faith mandates that they store months’ worth of emergency food for both themselves, and to help neighbors. In the past this meant home-canned food in basements, but in 1972 the leap to commercially-made, shelf-stable food was a natural. The first product by founder Phil Augason was “Morning Moo”, a low-fat milk alternative still in demand today. Now his son Mark is President and Augason Farms also offers shelf-stable baking mixes, beans, grains, beverages, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, meats, veggie proteins, soups, entrees, water and emergency preparedness kits.

The last 3 years have been Augason’s finest and their most trying. During lockdown there was a run on shelf-stable food that forced the company to stop selling to individual customers in order to meet demand from long-time business partners like Walmart. To sell direct to the public via the internet again they have to re-register in all 50 states, a lengthy process. But, in the spirit of loving thy neighbor, Augason Farms also donated over one million servings of emergency food to relief efforts in Ukraine. Over a million! Hankering to slay a great, huge can of food with a teeny-tiny can opener? Visit QBO!