The Brooklyn Growler

"Life is all skittles and beer." — Tom Lehrer

Writing a Love Letter to Bar Keepers Friend

Being a neat freak, I know in my heart that no matter how neat my home might be – it is not neat enough. There’s a scratch on the fridge or a nick on the cabinet or a bit of grime that just can’t be removed from around the edge of the sink.

These are the things that will eventually lead me to my doom.

I’ve always liked washing the dishes. You can have physical proof of accomplishing something. The dishwasher also exceeds this need. Try as I might, though, you can’t run everything through a dishwasher.

Say you have a copper-bottom pan that is scorched from pan-frying dumplings. You can toss it in the dishwasher – I have – but it won’t do you any good. What do you do?

Flash-forward to 1892. A chemist in Indiana is cooking some rhubarb. The pot has become tarnished from years of cooking a bajillion things that aren’t rhubarb. He cooks his rhubarb; eats it, presumably. Later, he’s washing his pot. Lo and behold! The pot is no longer tarnished. What’s going on? he says to himself. The chemist retires to his study with the pot. He’s sprawled out on his swooning couch when all of a sudden it comes to him–

Oxalic acid!

He creates a powdered form of oxalic acid – one of the main components of rhubarb – and goes on a cleaning jag that only ends once he’s polished every tarnished pot and brass fixture in his home. One thing leads to another, and the chemist has begun selling this talcum-like powder to local saloon keepers. They love it.

This magical cleaning elixir is thus dubbed Bar Keepers Friend.

Back to my dumpling-scorched pan. A little bit of water. A sprinkle of Bar Keepers Friend. A swipe from the steel-wool brush. OMFG! Quesclamation marks fire above my head. How could something ever become this clean?!

With all the time you’ll save using Bar Keepers Friend, you could be writing nutso things like this.


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2 Responses

  1. Natalie A. says:

    Where do you find it in Bk? I need some.

    • Frank Smith says:

      Y’know, offhand I can’t remember. I see it in a lot of grocery stores and hardware stores. I was in Broadway Panhandler on 8th St. in Manhattan the other day and saw some there as well.

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