Product: U.S. General Magnetic Paper Towel Holder
Purchased at: Harbor Freight (Tacoma)
While we normally discuss the random assortment of food we eat, we figured it was time to talk about a serious problem facing many Americans today. Since moving into our new apartment, we’ve had trouble with paper towel holders. The paper towel holder that is pre-installed in our suite is highly effective at dropping the paper towel roll on the floor at the most inconvenient times, risking exposure to germs and loads of cat hair. Just imagine the black-and-white bit of an “As Seen on TV ad”. On the other hand, our brushed steel counter top paper holder was easy on the eyes and very good at keeping our paper towel rolls from hitting the ground. Unfortunately, it was also quite space inefficient. I wanted something that would give me my counter space back, but due to the construction techniques of our vintage (circa 1900) building my stud finder was all but useless, and our heavy plasterboard walls had a pretty good chance of failing under any significant load.
That’s where the U.S. General Magnetic Paper Towel Holder comes into the picture. It’s a simple and sturdy paper towel holder designed to hold paper towels against a large flat object made of steel. Something large, steel, and flat like a gun safe, tool box, or maybe… just maybe a refrigerator! That’s exactly what we needed in our kitchen! Let’s put those fridge doors to use!
Unfortunately, for those of you who have color coordination in mind, the paper towel holders only come in matte red. A more sensible color for a general purpose paper towel holder would have been black or stainless. Both of those colors would work in most places where you could use a magnetic paper towel holder without getting particularly dirty or looking out of place (white would totally get dirty in a work shop). but I can always fire up a can of spray paint and take care of business if I were so inclined.
It’s a beautifully simple tool both in design and construction. There’s nothing magic, nothing fancy, and nothing to break. Just some stamped steel, bolts, and rubberized magnets. However, I did find a potential issue with the construction of these… the edges of the stamped portions don’t seem like they were chamfered or radiused. In fact they feel like they were marginally deburred at best. Definitely a sign of lower quality craftsmanship, but who’s expecting world-class construction from a Harbor Freight product? Just inspect the edges of yours before putting it where children or pets could get to it. I’d hate to recommend a product that lead to someone getting cut or hurt.
Another thing issue that some of you might notice is the sulfurous bouquet given off by the off gassing vulcanized rubber magnets. I’ve been told the smell will dissipate to imperceptible levels in a few days (weeks?) but I’m not 100% sure if that’s just the owners getting used to their kitchens smelling like a tire shop. If you’re sensitive to strong industrial smells you might want to leave this in your garage or on your porch for a few days. Of course if you live in a city like Tacoma your nose is well prepared for strong odors so you’re free to use it right away.
Even when you take the relatively simple construction and the strong rubber smell, I think these are an invaluable kitchen gadget for people who are tight on space. The magnets are surprisingly decent and do an excellent job, in part thanks to their rubber coating, of keeping your paper towels in place while remaining weak enough that you can easily change an empty roll out for a fresh one without breaking a sweat. [editor's note: if you own a stainless steel refrigerator you might find that this particular product won't work on your doors. Many stainless steel kitchen appliances don't have enough ferrous metal in the composition of their steel so magnets just don't stick.]
Even for the relatively steep price of $7.50 the U.S. General Paper Towel Holder is a fantastic purchase for a small kitchen. Assuming you don’t mind having a paper towel roll sticking out of your fridge. It might not be fancy, but it sure does a good job, and I’ll say I have absolutely no buyers remorse purchasing this. I’m even thinking about picking up a U.S. General Magnetic Rubber Glove holder since we go through a fair amount of gloves when we’re doing meat prep or cleaning up the kitchen. It’s no edible disaster, nor is it particularly cheap. Instead it’s a reasonably priced kitchen gadget that manages to be more useful than a banana guard or a Slap Chop.
[editor's note: how do you feel about reviewing the occasional kitchen gadget along side mystery meats and discounted delights?]