A lazy Susan is a labor-saving and organizational device that improves access to the things stored on it. Often made from wood, glass, or plastic, lazy Susans are usually round discs made with a non-slip rubber base, allowing them to rotate 360 degrees. Because of the simplicity of their design, the brilliance of their functionality is sometimes overlooked, but a lazy Susan is an unassuming little feature that can have vastly helpful dividends.
Who Is Susan?
The invention of the lazy Susan is not necessarily paired with the unflattering name, so it can be difficult to trace either. Some claim the device’s origins lie firmly in Germany, while others credit England in the 18th century. Still others assert that the invention belongs to Thomas Jefferson himself. However, according to the Smithsonian Museum, the first use of a revolving table dates back to 13th century China.
The origins of the name “lazy Susan” are dubious at best. Surprisingly enough, the term “dumbwaiter” was associated with the labor-saving appliances and devices typical of the end of the nineteenth century when homeowners were moving away from the services of domestic servants. “Dumbwaiter” seems to be something of an umbrella term, and as Susan was sort of a catch-all name for female staff for those employers who couldn’t be bothered with given names, it may be that bit of mnemonic lethargy that christened the spinning table.
The lazy Susan’s popularity in the United States really took off in the 1950s. During this time, their use in restaurants (especially AmeriChinese establishments) expanded to households across the nation. Today they are used to serve food, organize counters or tight spaces, and even in food preparation. While the basic design is pretty consistent, more elaborate devices may even come in multiple tiers.
Benefits of the Lazy Susan
For such a simple invention, lazy Susans have many applications and benefits. They simply cannot be beat for convenience, clutter mitigation, and accessibility of stored items.
This should be apparent with “lazy” in the name, but lazy Susans are wonderfully convenient. Especially in food presentation, they remove the need for excessive stretching and reaching, and in other settings they cut back on the hassle of rifling through bric-a-brac to get to the thing you want.
Lazy Susans have the added charm of making the things stored on them look like they are on display. Items of like kind can be stored in the same place, so using the revolving table cuts down on cluttered appearances.
This is a subset of convenience, since having everything stored in one space easy to get at removes a great deal of frustration. When you use a lazy Susan, there is no “back,” per se. Any part of the cabinet or counter can just as easily be the back or the front. Everything stored there is right at hand.
The tables are also easily modified to meet the needs of a given space. Those specifically designed to go inside kitchen cabinets may not be round, depending on the shape of your cabinet. If a different shape makes the stored items more accessible, you can bet they make lazy Susans in that shape.
The primary uses of a lazy Susan all meet the criteria listed above. However, though storage and food service are the primary uses, it’s amazing just how creative some people have been in utilizing a slowly spinning slab.
Storage and Organization
A lazy Susan is excellent at creating order, no matter what or where you are storing. Medicines, spices, craft supplies, and shoes are all eligible, and you can place the device in the fridge, laundry room, kitchen cabinets, under the sink, or even on the counter. If you want to be really creative, mount your lazy Susan to the underside of hanging cabinets or shelves and store utensils or pots and pans by hanging them.
Made popular in AmeriChinese restaurants in the mid-twentieth century, a lazy Susan is a great way to make sure that food is easily accessed by all who sit at the table. It does do away with the need to ask someone to pass the potatoes, though, so make sure you have other smalltalk ready!
Those who are serious about decorating cakes will already know this, but a lazy Susan is the perfect way to make sure frosting or fondant are applied evenly along a cake.
Coffee/Hot Cocoa Station
Is cocoa or coffee a morning staple in your house? Keep all the fixings on the counter without letting them clutter up the space. A mini coffee/cocoa bar is a charming addition to any kitchen.
Make Gameplay More Accessible
Playing a board game with a big group? No problem. Simply put the gameboard on a larger lazy Susan, and voila! The starting space or Illinois Avenue is easily reached by all.