In October, Amazon surprised Hutzler Manufacturing by calling with a succulent bit of news: The tiny Canaan (Conn.) company’s yellow plastic banana slicer had become a top seller in the online retail giant’s kitchen category.
Delighted, Monique Haas, whose immigrant grandfather Lothar Hutzler founded the company in 1938, clicked on the slicer’s Amazon product page. As she skimmed through hundreds of customer reviews, she started laughing. “Ordering one for my nephew who’s in the air force in California. He’s been using an old slinky to slice his banana’s. He should really enjoy this product!” one comment read. Some racier entries were submitted under the name “Lorena Bobbitt.” One reviewer who titled her post “saved my marriage,” wrote, “What can I say about the 571B Banana Slicer that hasn’t already been said about the wheel, penicillin, or the iPhone. … this is one of the greatest inventions of all time.”