According to inventor, Eric Zimmerman, “the world needs a new utensil.” No, he doesn’t think this is the next semi-useless kitchen gadget like the Hot-Diggity-Dogger or a panini maker. He believes this could be the next fork, knife or spoon—maybe a replacement for all three? I must not have the mind of an inventor, because I thought that life was just fine with the apparently outdated silverware. And I was skeptical about the need for Zimmerman’s invention, Trongs (“tri” plus “tongs”). But Eric reminds us that people were once resistant to the now-commonplace fork.
Trongs were invented and are currently marketed as a tool for eating ribs, wings, and other finger foods in the era of touchscreens, smartphones, and iPads. But I am the daughter of a chef who was recently quoted as saying her favorite utensil is her hands. And this girl, who doesn’t own a smartphone, has spent too long in Africa and India eating with her fingers. So, I’m kind of a hard sell on the “don’t get your hands dirty” marketing ploy. Still, I was intrigued.
The first time I saw Trongs in action was at this year’s Big Apple Barbecue in New York City (arguably one of the best summer events in the City). My Texan friend and barbecue connoisseur politely asked the nearby Trongs users, “What the heck are those?” Business cards were exchanged (the owner of these Trongs was a friend of Zimmerman’s), and a few months later I was sitting down to a big plate of wings with Trongs inventor, Eric Zimmerman.
I’ve got to be honest, I was only marginally better with Trongs than I am with chopsticks. But my hands were clean, that’s for sure, and they were easier to use with each passing wing. We talked about the benefits of Trongs: the ability to quickly answer the phone or text during a messy meal, and perhaps more importantly, the hygienic aspect of it–at least for the germophobic, among whom I do not count myself.
As we ate and talked, we discussed other uses for Trongs. This is where I think Zimmerman might really be on to something: in the food preparation department. We talked about their uses in food prep in restaurants, not only with hygiene in mind, but to prevent cross-contamination. With the growing number of people with severe food allergies and intolerances, restaurants and food providers can’t be too careful. I imagine Trongs at prep stations, color-coded for different foods. I also imagine their usefulness for my friend who can’t touch certain foods because of a skin allergy.
I also thought of another use: dredging. I hate when I dredge a chicken breast in an egg wash and then in breadcrumbs or flour, and my fingers are totally caked in a gummy mixture of the two. I will definitely be using Trongs then, but when it comes to wings, I think I’ll stick with my number one utensil: my hands.
wow! This is a twist. Kind of like short handled tongs….i am wondering how they would be eating corn on the cob, i guess you would need two of them eh? Seeings i am a midwesterner and all.
to ‘trong it out’ sometime
Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday says
Yeah, I think you’re bang-on with using them for breading stuff. I wouldn’t bother using them to eat. Like you I’m neither a smartphone user nor a germophobe.
Kate @ Our Best Bites says
I’m an eat-with-my-hands type of girl, too (it was always awkward being the only one eating with my hands at my favorite BBQ place, but seriously??? Pulled pork and ribs just don’t taste as good with a fork!) I haven’t been a particularly germophobic mother, either, aside from the initial first time mother/post-partum craziness when everyone had convinced me that my baby would die if he came in contact with the outside world. I’m with you on the dredging, though–I’m so not a fan.
I’m the Texan that asked, and I’m glad I did. They come in a pack of 2, and I think they’re *fantastic* for kitchen prep. We haven’t had anything to eat with them yet, but I am SO taking them the next time we go to Famous Dave’s, and most definitely next summer at the Big Apple Barbecue.
I love gadgets and this one looks promising!
I think these are awesome! I’m looking forward to using mine the next time we go out for chicken wings. With football season coming up, I imagine they’ll get a lot of use!
I liked your idea mentioned at the potluck for using them to handle hot peppers when chopping. I wonder if they might be good for cutting in butter in a biscuit recipe. Hmmmm….
Torrie @ a place to share... says
An open mind is a good thing. I like yours:).
… and definitely agree with the necessity of HANDS for wings.
The Bitch Stopped Cooking says
Fascinating! I feel like I would definitely use them for food preparation for the things where you need fine motor control but don’t want to get your hands too yucky and don’t want to waste a pair of gloves. They may also be helpful for shoveling piles of ice cream into your mouth.
Jen @ How To: Simplify says
OMG…I’m in love with this utensil! As soon as I took them out of my swag bag I couldn’t stop playing with them. I think I scared the dogs a bit! I can’t wait to put them to use in the kitchen!
I tried them today! So cool.
Eric Zimmermann says
@maggy et al. Thank you for the honest feedback and for sharing with your colleagues. Dan (co-inventor) and I were kicking around a tag-line along the vein of “the next best thing to using your fingers but better than getting messy” in acknowledgement of the superiority of the God-given, digital utensil. I will go out on a limb (pun intended) and say that fingers best even the ‘essential’ fork as an eating utensil but etiquitte trumps instinct there. From a human factors and ergonomics perspective the trong is a full order of magnitude closer to ‘the real thing’ than the fork by virtue of being coaxial to the thumb and fingers, as opposed to the perpedicularity of the fork and pretty much any other utensil which forces the elbow up and out. Keep playing with them, you may find many more uses!
Okay, have to admit the Trong looks, dare I say, fun?! Hubby loves new gadgets, so I might have to introduce him to this one.
And while most of us are still dealing with the heat of the summer I’ve already got winter on my mind because I’m beginning to seek stocking stuffers. I just can’t help myself! Thanks for sharing.
Cookin' Canuck says
I’m not much for kitchen gadgets, but I must say I’m intrigued by this little guy. I like the idea of using it for hot peppers when prepping.
Oooh! Cookin’ Canuck might be on to something! As someone who recently sliced a super hot pepper and then rubbed her eye, I can attest that Trongs might be very useful there.
But, in the end, I think I’m with you Mags. I love my hands, and I don’t care about germs. (And I don’t mind flour and egg goo while dredging). So, fingers it is!
We reviewed these and saw some of the same issues. You can read the review here:
My big issue was when I am done, do I put them in my pocket dirty? Maybe hit the bathroom and wash them? I may as well just go wash my hands.
John From Raleigh says
Personally, I was not sold until you mentioned the “Prep” options. I buy and use latex gloves when I am doing certain jobs in the kitchen. I would be willing to give these little devices a try. The photo makes them look very cumbersome. I would like to see a video of the produce in action.