Joe Ades passed away on Sunday, at the age of 75. You might know him from the Union Square Greenmarket– he was the dapper older fellow in a suit, perched on top of a crate, peeling carrots and potatoes at a rapid rate, and hawking the peelers in a charming (and convincing) manner.
His spiel always drew a crowd, and involved phrases like “ladies and gentlemen, step right up,” intoned in a booming British baritone. He learned how to hawk by watching the pitchmen in Manchester, England, where he grew up, but he wasn’t a street urchin by any means. It turns out that Ades lived in a posh apartment on the Upper East Side, where he kept his inventory of peelers in the former maid’s room.
Vanity Fair wrote a profile of him in 2006, which you can read here.
Coincidentally enough, I just bought a peeler from him a few weeks ago. This weekend, I made apple cake, and the peeler worked incredibly well on the apples, scraping off the peel like it was going through butter. It really is the best peeler of all time! I don’t know where you can find them now. (Anyone know?) And I certainly don’t know where you can find such a genial, old-school and entertaining sales pitch anymore.