≡ Menu

Vegetable Peeler Good Travel Gear

Vegetable Peeler Travel GearI carry a Star vegetable and fruit peeler in my rucksack at all times when traveling. This thing is indispensable.It is a funny moment when you realize that something as inane and simply boring as a vegetable peeler has become one of your prize possessions. I suppose I have now turned into [...]

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

Vegetable Peeler Travel Gear

I carry a Star vegetable and fruit peeler in my rucksack at all times when traveling. This thing is indispensable.

It is a funny moment when you realize that something as inane and simply boring as a vegetable peeler has become one of your prize possessions. I suppose I have now turned into an adult.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Bursa, Turkey- March 14, 2009
Travelogue Travel Photos –Travel Guide
Click on map to view route.

Star Vegetable Peeler

I was walking through a farmer’s market in Brooklyn with Chaya last autumn when I came across a crowd of curious spectators watching in awe as a bent over and smiling old man sliced the shit out of a carrot.

I too, was taken aback.

Star vegetable peeler sold by Joe Ades in the streets of New York City

I watched as a fully robust carrot was reduced to mere salad splinters in a matter of moments. The old man was putting on a show, yelling about how great these peelers were, and how I could buy them for everyone in my family.

I began tallying up my family members. I was sold. This man made me truly excited about an otherwise inane vegetable peeler. This man made me truly impressed by a tool that I never really looked twice at before.

I found myself excitedly watching as he chopped and dice through potatoes and laid waste to a steady stream of carrots. I had never witnessed vegetables being dismantled so quickly and easily before.

Like a grown and aged Huckleberry Finn, the potato peeler showman made his vegetable peelers seem like fun to use. Simply put, I wanted to play with one. Now I would not call myself the type of fellow who would be impressed by a mere vegetable peeler, but this was no ordinary instrument:

It was a Star Vegetable Peeler, “Made in Switzerland!”

I have a weakness for street side performance vendors. I paid $5 for the peeler and have been weirdly amazed by it ever since. Everywhere I travel, I show off the peeler and try to do the same demonstrations as the man who sold it to me in the streets of New York City.

I am pleased to say that this vegetable peeler has become a permanent part of my travel gear.

Vegetable peelers are good for traveling. I cannot believe that I neglected to travel with one before. Simply put, long term travelers need to eat fruits and vegetables. Though in some countries, it is not the best idea to eat the raw skins. I am not sure how valid these health warnings are, but I tend to peel the skins of my fruits and vegetables nonetheless.

It helps to have a peeler to do this.

Travel gear suggestion: carry a vegetable peeler.

The vegetable peeler salesman in New York City.

Joe Ades, the Potato Peeler of New York City

In researching this travelogue entry I discovered the name of the man who sold me the vegetable peeler in the street: Joe Ades.

I also discovered that he died last month.

I watched his show in Brooklyn and in Union square, and each time found myself mesmerized by his absolute radiance. This fellow was a natural showman. Whenever I would pass him, I would stand and watch as he gave his five minute shows multiple times in a row. A continuously revolving crowd would always encircle him, and they would be constantly buying up all of his peelers. Simply put, few people leave their house with the intention of buying a vegetable peeler, but many would go home with one – or five – after watching Joe’s show.

Photo from Serious Eats New York of Joe Ades selling potato peelers in the street

“One for five, two for ten, five for twenty,” was his familiar pitch, and spectators would often hand over 20 dollar bills.

It was the show that got people. It was the show that got me. This man could convince a tight fisted vagabond to drop a half day’s travel expense on a vegetable peeler with his vibrant show. I bought three of his peelers during my stay in New York City, as I kept making excuses just to watch Joe Ades’ show again. I bought peelers for my friends and my adviser, and I planned on buying many more, just because I wanted to watch the potato peeling show yet again.

Watching Joe Ades sell potato peelers was something real, raw, and genuine through which a person can see brief glimmers of New York City’s character riddled past. There was something about this man’s show that was left over from another age. Another age that is fast becoming long gone.

“His was a particular kind of street theater in a city that delights in in-your-face characters who are, and are not, what they seem. For he was the sidewalk pitchman with the Upper East Side apartment. The sidewalk pitchman who was a regular at expensive East Side restaurants, where no one believed his answer to the “So what do you do?” question: “I sell potato peelers on the street.” Mr. Ades (pronounced AH-dess) died on Sunday at 75, said his daughter, Ruth Ades Laurent of Manhattan. She said he never talked about how many peelers he sold in a year, or how many carrots he had sliced up during demonstrations. She said he stashed his inventory in what had been the maid’s room of the apartment.” -His Stage, the Street; His Rapier, a Peeler

The potato peeler man is gone, the past age is gone, we are now moving into a different age with a different character. I have a fleeting suspicions that, for once, I would like to stop short, turn around, and walk back along the road by which we came.

Farmer’s Market Union Square New York City Photos

Joe Ades, the Death of a Potato Peeler
Serious Eats New York
His Stage, the Street; His Rapier, a Peeler [New York Times]
RIP Joe Ades, Union Square Peeler Peddler [SE Talk]
The Gentleman Grafter [Vanity Fair]
Perfect Pitch [New York Daily News]
Potato Peelers Put Him on Park Avenue [MSNBC]

Vegetable Peeler Travel Gear


Filed under: Eastern Europe, Europe, Turkey

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

5 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • Wade Vagabondjourney.com August 3, 2009, 8:29 pm

    Buy a Star Vegetable Peeler at: Trusted Travel Gear

    Link Reply
  • Anonymous September 25, 2009, 9:27 am

    I never saw the show in Brooklyn, or Union Square or anywhere else in NYC. However, I did see someone demonstrating this wonderful product at the C.N.E. here in Toronto, CANADA this past August and bought 2 straight away! The biggest selling point? The man let me try it out as I had/have a broken RIGHT hand (with a lovely cast) and I am NOT left handed! It worked fabulous for my life as a Newly Developed "Lefty"! I bought one for myself and one for my aging Mom who is suffering from Arthritis in many parts of her body including her hands. Each FAll she lovingly brews up batches upon batches of my Great-Great Grandmother's Home Chutney Recipe to stock away for the long winter ahead. She was concerned that she wouldn't be able to make as much this year due to her hands. I am pleased to say that the "Star Peeler" is now a regular in her household. Never actually "Put Away". Just washed and ready to be used and re-washed again. I am hoping that someone will be selling them at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto this November as I would LOVE to pick up some more for family members! Or better yet, does anyone know if there is a website that sells them AND has all the uses for the peeler on it? (I unfortunately misplaced the page that I received with my peeler.)


    Link Reply
  • katia August 31, 2010, 6:18 pm

    i really really wish i could have seen this guy. . . .i am haunted most yearningly and wonderfully by Real Old New York.

    Link Reply
    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com August 31, 2010, 11:00 pm

      Right on, old NYC is still there — hiding in the cracks.

      Link Reply
  • Frank May 8, 2011, 9:02 am

    Joe is proof life is not what it appears to be but what one makes of it. He offered an honest product for a fair price. He did not sell his product, he believed in the product with passion and was only sharing with everyone the marvels in how to use it. If we got half this much out of our bankers and politicians the world would not be such a bad place today. One can only hope and maybe pray.

    Link Reply