A little piece of Norway

Today’s news brought the shocking end of a unique bit of everyday Norwegian life, in a manner of speaking. Newspaper Gudbrandsdølen Dagningen reported the bankruptcy of a national institution, the firm of Thor Bjørklund & Sons, the inventors of the ostehøvel, literally ‘cheese planer’.

RIP - the original Bjørklund ostehøvel

RIP - the original Bjørklund ostehøvel

The Bjørklund web site remains up and their range of products, including modern versions of the distinctly Norwegian cheese slicer, seem still to be available – this could be your last chance to get a genuine piece of traditional Norway.

Although the Lillehammer firm won the patent for the ubiquitous kitchen implement in 1925, the slicer in a variety of copied forms is available everywhere, so there is no danger of the tool itself disappearing. In fact, a Google image search for ‘ostehøvel’ is well worth a look, as designers have been playing with the look and form of the slicer for years.

Lawyer and trustee for Bjørklund & Sons, Svein Olav Bøen, told the newspaper that the company had ‘suffered a dramatic turnover failure’, which was the main reason for its collapse. Another casualty of the modern focus on economy over quality, and the practical difficulties of protecting simple, easy-to-copy intellectual property?

The company fought long to guard their patent, and when it expired cheaper copies proliferated. An article I wrote for Aftenposten’s News in English service in 2005 outlines Bjørklund & Sons struggles to keep the ostehøvel modern and Norwegian, and includes links to even earlier news. The Cheese Day design contest might raise a smile.

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5 responses to “A little piece of Norway

  1. Hi there, can you point me in the right direction to purchase the Bjorklund Amitto Cheese Slicers with Arctic Beech handles? Don’t seem to be able to purchase from the Bjorklund site…
    Thanks for any assistance, I’d like these for Christmas gifts.
    Becky,
    Denver CO USA

  2. Jonathan Tisdall

    Becky, did you see my reply to your original query, which was under the ‘Me’ page? I really don’t know more than that, but there seemed to be a lot of US retailers – I just did a Minnesota search via the Norway.com link I had there, and many shops came up.

  3. Unrelatedly, was it you who was asking if there were ever going to be any more subtlemobs? New dates announced.

  4. Pingback: Resolute « All the moose

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