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The Salt & Pepper Rule

There are certain things in life we all do.  There are no rules saying we have to do these things.  We just do them.  They’re actions bred into us as human beings.

The same primal instincts that prompt cats to use litter boxes and spiders to spin webs  prompt us to place our kitchen garbage under the sink.

That’s where yours is, isn’t it?   You’re so predictable.  There’s no rule or law saying this is where we all have to put our kitchen garbage, but 99% of us put it there.  I just made that number up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.

NOT having your garbage in the cupboard under your sink is a sign you’re unbalanced and not to be trusted.  Someone who could be described as shifty. Again, I just made that up but I’m also pretty sure this statement is true.

Another thing we all do?  We learn to whistle.  There is absolutely no purpose for it, and I know very few people who find this skill has advanced their quality of life in any way. (New York City construction workers and their pals not withstanding) But from an early age we all seem to want to learn to whistle.

The other thing most of us do is put the salt in the shaker with the most amount of holes.  The pepper goes in the shaker with the fewer amount of holes.  That’s the way it’s done.  There IS an actual rule that states this is the way to do it, by the way.

Because we’re law abiding citizens and we like to follow rules to help maintain a balanced life and orderly society, we do this.  We follow the salt and pepper rule.

Well I am here to tell you right now that society is about to become unhinged.  I switched up my salt and pepper shakers.  And you should too.

Here’s the reasoning behind my thumbing my nose at social norms.   Pepper is bigger.  It has a harder time flowing out of the holes.  Salt is finer.  It has an easier time flowing out of holes.  So doesn’t it make sense to put the pepper in the shaker with more holes, and the salt in the shaker with fewer holes?

Yes.  I think it does.  It does make sense.

And before you start running for the bomb shelter and screaming through the streets, consider this.  I actually changed my salt and pepper shakers over 2 years ago.  And since then society has stayed pretty much the same.

Actually things have gotten a little bit worse in terms of how slutty teenage girls dress.  But other than that … things have remained the same.  Oh!  And my oldest cat seems to have forgotten how to use the litterbox.  But I doubt there’s any sort of correlation there.


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66 Comments | Filed Under: Kitchen |

66 Responses to The Salt & Pepper Rule

  1. Connor says:

    Karen! No! The domestic gods shall smite thee and cast thee into the deepest hell: the shores of New Jersey!

    I generally use a mill for both, but next time I find occasion to stock a shaker I’ll have to try this.

  2. Jamieson says:

    Not to refute your claims, but…
    1. My garbage is in a cupboard in my (non-sink) island. To be fair, I AM unbalanced.
    2. I like my pepper in a grinder and I try not to salt my food except during cooking.
    3. It’s true however that I HAVE been dressing more slutty since 2008.

    • Karen says:

      Jamieson – My boyfriend bought me my favourite pepper grinder from a crackhead having a “garage sale” on Queen Street. That is all.

  3. Sharon Woo says:

    Ok so I had no such notion that this S&P law existed. I have always put salt in the one with fewer holes because it pours so fast and you don’t need as much plus I love LOTS of pepper. I guess I never paid attention to the way others do it.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I’ve never been able to remember which goes in which shaker, leading to many, “Aww dammit”s.
    My garbage is not under my sink. Whoever installed our sink and dishwasher went crazy with the pipes, so there’s no room under there. I swear it’s like that old screensaver with all the pipes.

    • Ali says:

      Rebecca,

      I have the same thing for both! I can’t remember which is which for the S&P, although I always thought the salt should be in the one with less because it comes out faster.. AND.. (and I get into arguements with my partner over this) AND.. too much salt is supposedly unhealthy for you, so why wouldn’t you use more pepper and less salt.

      And the only garbage can that would fit under my sink would be the size of a coffee can which I’d have to take out every time I threw something away. I don’t think I’m that unbalanced, but it really does bother me that my garbage isn’t under the sink!

  5. KarenB says:

    Funny thing about that salt/pepper dilemma! I must have missed the home lesson on that subject as a kid, and always had salt in the one with the fewer holes. I subsequently had a “heated discussion” with a guest (an RCMP officer, who clearly was not packing heat at the time) about the wrongness of my condiment display. I looked it up, only to find out I was WRONG (and embarrassed). But, in protest and humiliation, I did not change! Thanks for the support/ammo…. now to find her email address!

  6. Chris Graham says:

    We’ve been in a recession for about two years haven’t we? Did the economy begin it’s spiral the morning after you made the switch? I’m not sure, but I will forward this to the proper authorities. You are playing with our lives, Karen. Just sayin’.

  7. Korrine says:

    I think it’s unbalanced to have the garbage under the sink! How can you dump garbage from plates and such if you are standing in front of the garbage? Mine is in the cupboard to the left of the sink, and the dishwasher is to the right, so I have a nice little assembly line going on. Also, I have never been able to whistle. You can’t imagine the insecurity.

  8. Korrine says:

    I think it’s unbalanced to put the garbage under the sink! How can you dump garbage from plates and such if you are standing in front of the garbage? Mine is in the cupboard to the left of the sink and the dishwasher is to the right, creating a nice little assembly line. As for S&P, I am a grinder. Also, I have never been able to whistle. You can’t imagine the insecurity.

  9. Caroline says:

    there’s not room for decent-sized trash can under my sink. but there is a highly convenient sliver of floor between the sink and the breakfast nook bench, just perfect for a tall skinny trash can! so there.

  10. Lisa says:

    Too much salt is bad for you (and I’m pretty sure too much pepper is delicious!)so I have always switched my shakers. Only one person has ever noticed…my mother…

  11. Shauna says:

    Well that explains it!! I knew someone had to be responsible for all the teens dressing sluttier…. Sorry Karen, but someone has to take the fall for this!!

  12. lori says:

    I too, must be out of my mind. My garbage can is not under the sink, no room. and it has to have the top that flips up not in. But on the other hand my mom has her’s under the sink.
    Whistling i am not very good at it,wish I was.
    As for the S&P mine have the same amount and size of holes,so I am good either way!!

  13. MaryC says:

    I never understood the whole “shaker” deal anyway. I follow my Mum’s method. Pepper in a grinder and kosher salt in a little covered dish with a little spoon. Whenever I use a salt shaker I never know just how much is going to come out of that high-tech contraption!

  14. Oona says:

    We keep our trash under the sink, but our recycling in a trash can next to the stove, does this make me partially unbalanced? Half-sketchy? I also don’t use salt and pepper shakers… I didn’t even have salt in the house until my fiance needed it for some kind of project. Hmm…

  15. Heather says:

    Garbage under the sink is kind of a Canadian thing, in my experience.

  16. alh says:

    Weird, I always thought the salt was supposed to go in the shaker with fewer holes. That’s how it was done in my house growing up and that’s how I did it. You have now just solved one of the great arguments of my marriage. Who knew my husband was actually the normal one ;0

  17. Joni N. says:

    I love the way you think, lady.

    I’m completely unbalanced, for the record. I don’t even use a salt shaker. I keep my Kosher salt in a little dish. Also, I use a pepper mill so . . . I’m a rebel.

    Garbage under the sink is not just a Canadian thing; we do it here in the USA — at least I do.

  18. Joni N. says:

    Oh! You know what? While you’re at it, maybe you could enlighten us about the whole toilet paper thing. You know, over vs. under. ;o)

  19. Alyssa says:

    Or put in cinnamon and nutmeg to sprinkle your coffee with in the morning. We call them Pinnamon and Sutmeg. :)

  20. Evalyn says:

    Ever so slowly, the world comes around to my way of thinking. Makes me wish I’d started with something a little bigger than salt and pepper.

  21. Visual Vamp says:

    And my garbage can is not under the sink, and I am not shifty. Quirky yes, shifty no. And I use salt cellars not salt shakers. Lord help me!
    xo xo

    • Karen says:

      Visual Vamp ~ Well … you’re hardly a good judge of whether you’re shifty or not. Shifty people never think they’re shifty! :) I know everyone uses salt cellars/pigs, but I’ve never liked them. I have some beautiful antique sterling cellars, but … I don’t like using my fingers ’cause the salt gets under my nails and sticks there, and I feel like I can’t control the little spoon enough to add the correct amount of salt. Basically I’m not coordinated enough to use salt cellars. Which is unfortunate. ~ karen!

  22. I’ve always put my salt in the shaker with the fewest holes and the pepper in the shaker with the most holes, and thought everybody did it that way!
    I don’t keep my garbage can under the sink, either. Left-over food gets served to the outside dogs, and stuff they can’t/won’t eat goes in the garbage disposal. Trash goes in the trash compactor at the end of my kitchn cabinets.

    • Karen says:

      Peggy! O.K. You have outside dogs? You must hunt. And you have a bona fide trash compactor!! I’d love one of those. 2 garbage cans under my sink. One for “garbage”, one for compostable stuff that goes into green bin. ~ k!

  23. Bill Grigg says:

    Having always known I was unbalanced, it is a relief to find out it is due to my garbage can not being located under the kitchen sink!

    I have a set of LEGO shakers, and they have the same amount of holes, the black one is for pepper, and the salt is white, of course. However, I don’t use them. I have a salt dish so I can take a pinch or more at a time to sprinkle on my food. I’ve always found salt shakers were too liberal for my taste.

    Fresh ground pepper is the rule in my home, so no pepper shaker in use, either.

  24. I must be super shifty – my trash isnt under the sink & my salt & pepper aren’t in any kind of shakers at all… OMG WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME!?!?!?!

  25. CJ says:

    So…um…what do you call it when you keep your salt in the laundry for preserving the colours of your handwashing?

    • Karen says:

      CJ – *shiver* Well that’s just frightening. I don’t even know what you’d call that. I’m wavering between socially maladjusted and ingenious. ~ karen

  26. Valerie says:

    I used to put raw rice in both shakers to keep everything shaking cleanly but found pop corn a better alternative. I once lived in a house that had a “compactor” for garbage and it was fabulous; particularly so as most garbage pick up restricts the number of bags. Of course the solitary bag containing the compacted garbage weighed about one ton.

  27. Jacque says:

    Well… I am unbalanced… but my trash is under my kitchen sink. It used to set at the end of my counter by the laundry room, but the dog kept getting into it, so I put it the only place he couldn’t get to it… under the sink.

  28. Karen O. says:

    Funny story… I got an adorable little piggie shaped salt and pepper set from my sister for Christmas. Then proceeded to have this exact discussion. I was reasoning the exact way that you were, that the pepper is larger and should go in the shaker with more holes because it’s harder to get out.

  29. Emmy Jay says:

    This never comes up in our house: we have 3 grinders (1 each for black and multi-colored peppercorns, 1 for smoked sea salt) and a small covered ceramic pot with a little wooden spoon for regular salt. I think we have some ground white pepper in the spice cabinet that came in a shaker, but we pull the shaker top off when we use it and use a spoon. (a very *small* spoon — that stuff is wicked spicy!)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emmy! That’s a lotta pepper! :) We have salt and pepper in shakers on the kitchen table, shakers and sometimes a cellar in the dining room and a multi coloured peppercorn grinder for cooking. Phew. I just can’t get the hang of those tiny spoons. The salt always ends up in a bit blog in the middle of my dish. :( ~ karen

  30. Stacey says:

    I could never remember which one pepper is supposed to go in. So, I put the pepper in the one with more holes because ‘pepper’ has more letters than ‘salt’.

  31. No, Karen, I don’t hunt! We just like to have a big dog in the yard, but NOT in the house! We live in the boonies, so a big dog is handy to have around for protection and to sound the alarm when someone comes over. Actually, they’re our grandson’s dogs. Our DD and grandson live on a busy highway, and the dogs live here so they won’t get run over!

    • Karen says:

      LOL! I only asked because my dad was a hunter and he had hound dogs he kept outside. He insisted since they were hunting dogs they’d rather be outside. I got angry at him every time he went hunting, but looking back on it there was no need. I can’t remember him ever actually hitting anything. LOL. ~ karen

  32. Oh, and the trash compactor is about 25 years old. We got it when we got a garbage pickup service, because one garbage can wouldn’t hold all the trash that our kids generated. It’s also great for crushing aluminum cans, too!

  33. Brigette says:

    This makes sense, but what are your dinner guest reactions? Outrage? Confusion? Are they the ones turning into slutty teenagers?

  34. Britt says:

    I’ve got a grinder for the pepper and a grinder for salt. I’m Australian though so maybe we’re just odd…

  35. liz says:

    I’ve always had mine that way and the reasoning was that I like a lot of pepper and we are supposed to be cutting down on our salt intake. That’s the only way I can keep it straight!

  36. kasia says:

    WOW! I actually, really, for all of my adult life, which is way over –, well nevermind that… No, really I thought salt went in the one with FEWER holes, because you should eat less salt, so this must be the correct one, in order to limit salt intake…

    I notice now that my shakers have holes with an S and P shape, so that certainly made that easier … but the S has LESS holes.
    Hmmm…..

    • Karen says:

      Hmmmm. :) I think the world is moving towards “our” way of thinking and newer salt and pepper shakers work that way. They didn’t so much care about their salt intake in the olden days. They pretty much would have been pleased with a dinner of a salt lick in the olden days. ~ karen

  37. Valerie says:

    I use a grinder for my pepper and a little glass container for sea salt… the vintage owl shakers I have are apparently purely for decoration.

  38. sera says:

    Despite using both salt and pepper grinders, my husband just yesterday asked me why we don’t just have salt and pepper shakers. Well then, I guess he just requested that I GO BUY SOMETHING, woo hoo!
    And at this moment in time, our garbage is not under the kitchen sink because it is a large dual garbage, recycle bin with a foot pedal and a slow closing lid, and I have a separate foot petal bin for compost. Plus if it’s out of sight, it’s way too out of mind for my husband. Before we moved in together, he had piles of garbage that fell out and into the back of the under the sink. Ew.

  39. Diane says:

    Just discovered your blog, sent by a friend who loves the same things in life that I do.

    My poor husband is now trying to watch his weekly fix of western movies or ‘dusters’ as he likes to call them,(doesn’t make them anymore palatable)while I am forcing him to look at the things WE WILL BE BUILDING soon from your site. HE doesn’t like you as much as I do…

  40. Leanne says:

    My trash can is across the room from my sink. I have never been able to whistle. My pepper is in a grinder. Now what do I do? ;)

    • Karen says:

      Go back to whatever bizarro planet you’re *really* from! ~ karen p.s. Just a reminder that the site will be undergoing maintenance later this evening and you might not be able to access it.

  41. Bonnie says:

    I’m with Leanne–trash can across the room from the sink, never been able to whistle. Accept us, we are on your planet to help you.

    Oh, I just got back from Korea where I was surprised to find that the salt was in the shaker with fewer holes. I thought I had found an interesting cultural difference, but I guess it was just common sense.

  42. Brenda says:

    I had solved this problem by not purchasing salt/pepper shakers with different numbers of holes. For years I’ve preferred the clear ones so there’s no mistaking them. But today I accidentally purchased simple white ceramic ones, thinking they were quite functional, only to be derailed by the different-number-of-holes dilemma. An internet search for a definitive answer proved fruitless. I think I will fill them as I please, and if that becomes a problem I will revert back to the clear ones.

  43. Gale says:

    No room under the sink for garbage. I guess I missed that rule…and I do like to follow the rules, so – salt in the shaker with the most holes…I’ve only recently decided I like pepper, and that is in a mill. I’ve always known I was “different”. I mean – “unique”.

  44. Margaret K. says:

    Some older salt and pepper sets have smaller holes, but more of them, in the salt shaker and fewer, but larger holes in the pepper shaker. We make do with a generic glass shaker for the salt and a grinder for the pepper.
    I don’t really like having garbage under the sink, and our trash container wouldn’t fit there anyway. But I can whistle.

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