The bottle scraper (known as both a flessenschraper (bottle scraper) and flessenlikker (bottle licker) in Dutch) is a Dutch kitchen tool similar to a small spatula. It is designed to scrape the contents of long bottles that would be impossible to reach with other kitchen tools. Although the tool is sold in Norway and has even been described in some accounts as having originated there, it is cited as a quintessentially Dutch tool as well as an example of Dutch thrift.
The scraper is made of a long shaft, frequently around 30 centimetres (0.98 ft) in length. On one side is a small flexible rubber spatula head roughly 4 centimetres (1.6 in) across set perpendicular to the shaft. The head is flexible and usually has a rounded half-circle shape one side useful for scraping round bottles and jars and a flat side with two right angles useful for scraping out cartons. The head is flexible so that it can be pushed into and pulled out of bottles whose mouth is smaller than the fully expanded head of the scraper but larger than the shaft.
It is a common tool in kitchens in the Netherlands and available in many kitchen stores and supermarkets — although this may vary by region. It is almost entirely unused and unknown outside of that country.
Historically, vla (a popular dairy product with the consistency similar to custard or yoghurt) was sold in long glass bottles. Vla was frequently delivered by milkmen in bottles similar to the long, tapered-neck milk bottles used in many places in the world. However, while the use of the milk bottle streamlined production and distribution practices, the shape of the container made it hard to extract the last bits with spoons, spatulas, or other kitchen utensils. The Dutch answer was the bottle scraper which was perfectly suited to answer this problem.
Vla is now primarily sold in cartons which reduces the need for a bottle scraper or make the design less efficient (e.g., bottles have rounded walls while cartons frequently have square bases with 90 degree angles). Modern bottle scrapers include a spatula-side with right angles useful for scraping vla out of these containers as well. Additionally, the scraper has come to occupy an important role in Dutch kitchens in variety of other purposes being used for scraping the contents of many other bottles and jars (e.g., peanut butter, Nutella, etc.). Much of the Dutch population is familiar with the bottle scraper and skilled in its use.
There is an element of the technical and engineering community that sees the bottle scraper as a monument to a wrong type of technical solution. This group argues that the best solution to the problem of remaining vla in bottles was to put vla in different containers preventing the problem from ever occurring, rather than inventing another tool and then educating a population in its use.
- Flessenschraper, "...one of the coolest kitchen gadgets that you've never heard of..."
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