Unbelievably, there is one time-honored gadget that I didn't buy back in 1988 when it first came out, nor any time since, until today, that is.
OK, it is not perfect, but it is seriously light years ahead of quite a few devices that are supposed to accomplish the same thing. Made by Presto, it is called a salad shooter and as the name implies, you put cleaned and possibly peeled fruit or vegetables in the chute and it shoots it into your salad bowl or onto a plate all sliced or grated, as you prefer.
I found a vintage one at a friend's house. It had never been used, as was evidenced by the fact that the box had never even been opened. My reasoning was that we should try the thing out and if it worked, use it, and if not, toss it. My friend suggested we give it to a thrift shop. Not so fast, I replied.
Since I was making tamale pie and salad for dinner that night, I had things that needed slicing and grating. So here are the things I tried first: onions, celery, cucumber, green pepper, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese. It did not work very well on the lettuce or the tomato, but everything else came out great, and faster, and with less cleanup than it would have with any of my other devices. Yes, and we are talking about a lifetime accumulation of kitchen gadgets and small appliances including cuisinart food processors of assorted sizes and shapes, the OXO mandoline slicer, and just about every kind of microplane grater in existence.
"This thing rocks," I said, already looking forward to preparing the next meal. I should put this into context by admitting that I am a loves-to-eat but hates-to-cook kind of person who probably spends more time shopping for labor-saving devices than actually cooking.
But already I was thinking about what could be done to improve the salad shooter, and wondering if those improvements had been made in more recent models. After using it to prepare all kinds of yummy food the next day and again finding it easy to assemble, easy to use, and a snap to clean, I decided to go online in search of a more powerful model with a larger chute and some other features. Although I could not find a rechargeable model, probably for good reason, because the cuisinart rechargeable shredder got chilly reviews for not being able to cut it, nor could I find one with a retractible cord, there did seem to be two models of the salad shooter, the Professional and the Prime Professional Plus, that seemed to be substantially better than the vintage one I found in the broiler of my friend's oven.
Curiously, the Plus model is no longer in production, nor is a similar product that was called the ChipShot. But all of the models Presto ever made are still getting rave reviews online. For example, out of 104 reviews on Nextag, this device still had 5 stars. So I'm not the only one who thinks it is nifty.
OK, so I hung on out eBay until I found what I thought was a deal on the Professional model, even though the cord does not retract.
Here is the manufacturer's web page with spare parts and tips: