The French have this saying, "Impossible n'est pas français." It literally means "Impossible isn't French."
It's equal parts patriotic and whimsical and folklore helps to explain the proverb, stating the word simply doesn't exist within the French language. Napolean too claimed not to understand what it meant when, during a battle with the Spanish, his soldiers explained to him that it was "impossible" for them to overtake an enemy artillery unit.
Who knows if any of this is true? You should really check with your friendly neighborhood Francophile to confirm.
It should be to no one's surprise, though, that the people who make Opinel® knives hail from this place where 'impossible' isn't part of the provincial lexicon. The thing about an Opinel knife is that when you have one, everything does seem possible, thus rendering that old French proverb a near absolute truth.
If I've started to lose you because you've never considered yourself to be a person who carries a pocket knife, I should note that your life without one stands to be affected in ways you may have not previously thought.
Let me illustrate.
Imagine you're lost on a hiking trip somewhere. Somewhere in the wilderness, where hiking is a suitable activity, and you need to camp out until morning. Intuition will help you survive, but your best friend is going to be your knife. You can shave off kindling for a fire, light a spark, and of course, use it to help construct a simple shelter.
Or maybe you're a city kid, like me, taking a date on a picnic in the park. Caught up in the reverie of how impressed she's going to be with your awesome picnicking skills, you forgot to pack something to slice that fruit and smelly, high-end cheese you bought. Queue your handy pocket knife.
No matter who you are, the truth is, a pocket knife can be incredibly helpful in solving everyday life problems: cutting a hang nail, removing splinters, unscrewing one of those idiotically small eyeglass screws, and opening surprise packages from your Gam-gam.
So why use an Opinel?
First and foremost, when you're in the presence of an Opinel knife you should know that you're looking into the soul of a knife that has been made using the same design, by the same group, for over a hundred years. Longevity is key. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? Well, Opinel knives aren't broke and they've been working just fine since 1897.
Constructed in the Savoie region of France since the companies inception, the Opinel pocket knife comes in eleven varied sizes, which means anyone with any sized hand can find one that fits their grip. Let's hear it for diversity!
Originally, they were made up of four main parts: the beechwood handle, the steel blade, the shell ring, and the rivet. That's it. You'd open the knife, cut stuff with the knife, and then close the knife.
Then in 1955, Marcel Opinel, the son of founder Joseph Opinel, invented the Viribloc® system - a rotating lock that he slid over the shell ring, closing the groove and therefore locking the blade in position. This is my favorite part of any Opinel knife because I know it won't accidentally close during use and nearly chop off my thumb - I'm not saying that's ever happened with a different knife, but I'm not denying it either.
Opinel pocket knives come in two main varieties - stainless steel and carbon steel. So now the question becomes, "Which one do I want to have in my pocket every day?" Your pockets aren't my business so you've got to decide for yourself. But here's what I can tell you: carbon steel is stronger and more durable which means you're getting a stronger cutting edge. It's also easier to sharpen. However, it's susceptible to corrosion and can rust, so you'll need to take a little extra care of it. Stainless steel has chrome in it and therefore can't corrode which is why it's called "stainless." So while you get a blade that is harder to sharpen and isn't as strong as carbon, there is virtually no extra care required.
Excitingly, Opinel isn't a one-hit wonder. They've branched out their game to all things sharp, making other lines of indoor/outdoor knives and cutting tools, from an oyster and shellfish knife to a chef's knife, and more. They even make a Le Petit Chef Set, a kids collection complete with finger guard, peeler, and a round-tipped chef's knife.
When it comes to quality, long lasting, and affordable - have I mentioned affordable? - knives, it is in our humble opinion that Opinel does it better than anyone.
Take them seriously, because they've taken us, the common knife user, seriously.
We love them as a maker here at Boston General Store which is why we're bringing as much of their brand to you as possible, and we hope we can for a long time.
Make sure to check out all of the great Opinel wares at our online shop and remember to cut safely!
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