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153: Freshly Ground Sprinkles

February 24, 2013

It came to me in flash of inspiration a few months ago. I have no idea why or how, but I suddenly knew that I needed to make a sprinkle grinder.

My original plan was to begin manufacturing a line of spaghetti-shaped sprinkle stock that you would load into a pepper-grinder-shaped tool, and actually grind off some fresh sprinkles.

I soon realized that was a fairly ridiculous idea, and while hilariously impractical, it was also actually impractical. So, I set out to make something that just looked exactly like that scenario. Oh, it still works, just not like you might think. Below you will discover the tale of how it was made.

On Tuesday morning, I decided I had waited long enough to bring my vision of elegant sprinkle serving to the public. I needed to make this happen, so later that day I stopped by Value Village to see if they had any clear pepper grinders. There’s always a chance.

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Then I saw it. The perfect grinder just sitting there, waiting to be Frankensteined into something greater than itself. I took it as an omen, and got to work.

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When I got the grinder home, I found the mechanism was stuck shut. A forceful twist released a cloud of rust from the gears. No matter. I don’t need that part anyway.

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I used Google SketchUp to visualize the design for my dispensing mechanism. Very handy tool. I don’t think I could have done this project without it.

sprinkles-laser-screenshot

Once I had the basic workings figured out, I realized this would be yet another laser cutting project. So, I took some precise measurements and switched to Illustrator to make the parts.

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I’m beginning to seriously love laser cutting. My options were “a couple hours with a saw, outside in the cold” or “30 seconds with a laser”. Why would you even need to think about that?

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I didn’t choose the clear acrylic. It was the only thing they had in the thickness I needed, but I’m glad it worked out that way. It looks cool.

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I love it when the measurements work. The first piece slid together perfectly.

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Here you can see my plan coming together.

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And here you can see it falling apart. I made the notches too tight, and they broke.

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A quick trip back home to make some adjustments, and while I had the file open I tried out a new design.

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It went together much easier this time.

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Alright, this is fine, but what is going on?! I though this post was about sprinkles!

Hold on, I’m getting there. I just took too many pictures of the laser cutting part. Sorry.

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Once the mechanism was assembled, I put the grinder back together. You may be able to tell from this picture, that it’s not actually a grinding mechanism. It’s more of a gumball-machine-style dispenser. Which means this whole thing is a lie, and I’m just going to fill it up with regular sprinkles, and have them pour out when you turn the crank.

“But, the picture at the first! I saw the sprinkle rods! Explain that!”

OK. OK. Geez, you’re pushy today, reader.

  sprinkles-14

What you saw, and (hopefully) interpreted, as uncut sprinkle rods was actually colored wire.

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Sticky-side-out tape, and some precut lengths of wire makes a pretty convincing shell of confection.

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This part of the project actually took the longest.

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I cut everything flat, rolled up the tape,…

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… and put it in the grinder.

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This leaves a secret compartment to be filled with regular sprinkles.

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This way, I can use it forever, and only ever have to buy replacement regular sprinkles (or maybe jimmies).

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Say when. And while I grind enjoy this video.

OK. “When.”

See you next week.

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63 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2013 5:38 am

    Bravo Bravo!!!!! :)

  2. February 24, 2013 12:21 pm

    what are in your brain?! unbelievable!

  3. February 24, 2013 12:38 pm

    The rusty bits of the “new” grinder were a bit creepy. Where do you come up with this stuff?? Incredible.

    • February 24, 2013 12:38 pm

      “how” do you come up with this…

    • February 24, 2013 12:47 pm

      I got it at a thrift store, so It was used, but not much. I think it was just stored improperly.

      As for the how… someone has to do it, right?

  4. February 25, 2013 8:43 am

    Yeah… you need to market that thing! Its awesome!

  5. February 25, 2013 8:11 pm

    It’s just… so… AWESOME. :D

  6. Michael permalink
    March 1, 2013 7:17 am

    What’s the song that you’re playing in your video? Sprinkle “Grinder” is amazing and very fancy.

  7. April 7, 2013 2:35 pm

    Genius : )

  8. April 17, 2013 10:26 am

    Two thumbs up for any project that requires buying and eating a cupcake.

  9. Guy permalink
    May 24, 2013 3:20 am

    I’m currently working as an ice cream man, and this would be perfect for my van. It adds that touch of class that is missing with the factory made dispensers. If you were in a position to market this, I’m sure many, many people in my line of work would be very keen to buy from you.

  10. Sebastian permalink
    September 5, 2013 6:03 pm

    You’re one creative motherfucker aren’t you?

  11. Ryan Voots permalink
    September 5, 2013 6:15 pm

    Do you have a drawer where you keep various lengths of wire?

    • September 5, 2013 7:05 pm

      I do. Although it’s not really a drawer so much as it is an entire house.

  12. ThoseTortillas permalink
    September 5, 2013 6:32 pm

    A bunch of people on Reddit (including myself) just got really sad about this. It looks so real! http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/1ltbao/fresh_ground_sprinkles_for_your_cupcake_sir/

    • September 5, 2013 6:50 pm

      Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, but thank you. I just got home and noticed the traffic spike. Wow.

  13. Holly permalink
    September 5, 2013 6:40 pm

    I want one. I’m sure others will too. Someone is gonna make some money off your idea. Hopefully it is you.

    • September 5, 2013 6:55 pm

      I’d love to make money off it, but I’m also happy to bring forth interesting ideas.

  14. September 5, 2013 7:08 pm

    how much?

    • September 5, 2013 7:20 pm

      Well, it depends on a lot of things. The first being locating a pepper mill I can take apart. If I can find a cheap version, I may make more.

  15. Stacy D permalink
    September 5, 2013 7:16 pm

    I totally want one! When you figure out a price, let us know!

  16. September 5, 2013 7:41 pm

    I hate sprinkles and yet…I want one too!!

  17. baloooga permalink
    September 5, 2013 7:48 pm

    Your model has to be a Cupcake Royale cupcake. I know my Seattle cupcakes.

  18. September 5, 2013 8:50 pm

    Ingenious! Thanks for sharing.

  19. September 5, 2013 9:21 pm

    I love this! I have a question about the wire. Do you have to worry about it being food safe? Do you have to worry about lead in the wires? Just curious.

    • September 5, 2013 9:24 pm

      I think we’re fine. It’s copper wire, insulated, and the only thing that actually touches the sprinkles is a layer of packing tape.

  20. September 5, 2013 9:44 pm

    I saw this from reddit. Very nice and a lot of effort and work went into this!

  21. Rachel permalink
    September 5, 2013 11:07 pm

    Dude, patent and Shark Tank that sh*t. Immediately.

  22. September 6, 2013 6:45 am

    This just went viral on FB – the cake artists are going nuts!

    • September 6, 2013 12:21 pm

      Fabulous idea!! Though I am a bit disappointed I can’t ‘grind’ my own sprinkles though I have made my own jimmies/sprinkles

      • September 6, 2013 9:29 pm

        Agreed. I would love to use something like this in my proposed coffee shop.

  23. September 6, 2013 11:00 am

    You’re Amazing!Keep up the good work!

  24. Rese permalink
    September 6, 2013 4:57 pm

    this is 1000 kinds of awesome!

  25. September 6, 2013 9:31 pm

    Hi there, can you email me? I’d like to order one or 2!

  26. September 7, 2013 11:56 am

    Awesome idea! :)

  27. September 7, 2013 1:22 pm

    This is just so full of joy. Patent it asap, you deserve good things for this whimsically fun idea! Can’t stop smiling just thinking about it. I’d totally buy a few. :)

  28. Janelle permalink
    September 7, 2013 2:04 pm

    I would love to have one too! Let us know where and we will start buying!

  29. Denise permalink
    September 7, 2013 4:26 pm

    I need this!!

  30. Torie permalink
    September 7, 2013 7:40 pm

    I agree!!! Total gold mine!! We must be able to purchase this! Please….let us know if they are ever for sale :)

  31. September 8, 2013 2:49 am

    Just so you know, the Aussie company GroceryRun.Com.Au are using your image on their Facebook page without credit (they do this sort of thing every day and it drives me insane) and presumably without permission. Here’s the link if you want to take them to task: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=542276282487565&set=a.197677666947430.50826.163758067006057&type=1

    If they did ask you first, my apologies and I’ll just carry on.

    • September 8, 2013 5:27 pm

      Thanks :) I talked to them and they fixed it.

      • September 8, 2013 5:38 pm

        No problem! I like to see credit where it’s due for all the creative stuff they yank off the ‘net willy-nilly. Love your post, by the way. Should probably mention that. Lol.

      • Shaun permalink
        January 20, 2014 9:54 pm

        I would love to order one. Are you in Calgary?

  32. Barbara permalink
    September 8, 2013 8:13 pm

    could you put sprinkles or jimmies in a reg. “new” pepper grinder and get smaller shapes- a different effect? Have you tried that?

  33. September 10, 2013 2:05 pm

    You just made buying my boyfriends Christmas present a lot harder. Shoot.

  34. oldhag permalink
    September 12, 2013 8:59 am

    I LOVE it!!!!!! It’s not important to me about the cutting aspect….but the dispensing idea is outstanding !!! This would be far more accurate directing the sprinkles where they are intended to go. Don’t give up…..I’d buy it !!!

  35. September 15, 2013 1:12 pm

    Could you please send me a message? I would like to discuss some possible work that could be substantially beneficial for both of us>

  36. grammaA permalink
    September 18, 2013 6:34 am

    This is great–I want one my granddaughters would love it when we bake, and we do a lot!!! Keep us posted on a price–Thanks

  37. September 18, 2013 10:25 pm

    I want to order one!

  38. October 31, 2013 10:00 am

    This is an awesome idea. I would love to have one. Have you thought about a http://www.kickstarter.com project? I’d invest!

  39. Michelle permalink
    November 3, 2013 10:49 pm

    This is great! YOU deserve whatever great things come from this. I don’t care if 30,000 other people start making these tomorrow out of gold-plated grinders with a smartphone built in. YOU are a genius, YOU did it first, YOURS is unique to you, and I want one that YOU PERSONALLY made. Please Let me know if you start selling these. I will buy one and a few more as gifts! Good for you! You should be proud! : )

  40. jessica permalink
    November 27, 2013 10:39 am

    could I get the blueprints or whatever for the thing you made on Google sketch up

  41. Nikki permalink
    December 2, 2013 9:18 am

    This is the sickest thing I’ve ever seen, well Next to pre cut bananas still in their skins! Totally going to do this and screw with my kids heads lol

  42. Rachel Hobson permalink
    December 7, 2013 9:29 pm

    This is the kind of thing that restores my faith in humanity. Such brilliance! Such hilarity! Such great writing. Love it all. Thanks for sharing! :)

  43. stuebal629 permalink
    March 28, 2014 11:50 pm

    i thought they were really long sprinkle rods you heartless bastard, but besides that, youre creativity is second to none.

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  1. Freshly Ground Sprinkles « TikiRobot!

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