A new line of inclusive Veggie shaped cooking utensils, including a carrot spoon, celery spatula and eggplant whisk also incorporate braille to empower the blind and visually impaired to quickly identify each kitchen tool.
The Q.D. Foodie kitchen tools are the brainchild of voiceover artist Marci Heit, who first envisioned them as cartoon props in a treatment for an animated kids show. The program, which she calls “Q.D. Foodie,” is still in development, but the products are already available online.
Besides the banana and artichoke designs, five other dishwasher-safe tools also bring the outdoors in. A carrot spoon, celery spatula and eggplant whisk pair with scallion and corn salad servers. Easy-grip handles on larger pieces make them sensory friendly. Priced at $49.99, the measuring pieces are equipped with braille.
“The tools are not designed as a special needs product at all,” Heit says. “They’re designed as an ‘inclusive product’ for everyone to contribute in the kitchen, bring everyone together and have fun.”
Heit originally conceived of the products while pregnant with her now 7-year-old daughter. She is sighted, but was born with vision concerns. She has worn glasses since 18 months and underwent eye surgery at age four.
Heit first imagined the produce-enhanced tools as cartoon props in her proposal for an animated show featuring a blind girl named Quinn Daisy, or Q.D., who wears star-shaped glasses and loves to cook with her friends in her watermelon-shaped treehouse using the playful kitchen implements.
“Something about them just made me want to have them in my own kitchen,” Heit says.
Last spring, a successful crowdfunding campaign raised more than $50,000 from 141 backers to realize Heit’s dream and underwrite the costs of creating custom molds. She began shipping product last month. It’s definitely been a long haul, Heit says.
Q.D. Foodie kid-friendly designs also offer children an opportunity to take more pride in cooking and try new foods, says instructor Natasha Rosenstock Nadel, who introduced the utensils to nutrition and cooking classes.
“The kids love the curved shape of the eggplant whisk. It is very comfortable for their hands,” Rosenstock Nadel says.
Heit’s experience as a volunteer while previously living in Los Angeles inspired her to conceive of Quinn Daisy’s unique kitchen. At children’s puppet shows for “Kids On The Block,” a disability awareness program for elementary school students, Heit voiced a number of characters.
“The underlying educational message of the puppet shows, that kids are different but inside they’re the same, was very well received by the students,” Heit says.
That got her thinking about conveying the “takeaway” to a larger audience. Heit was also inspired by the positive outlook of a 90-year-old volunteer, Elda, who had lost her sight 20 years earlier to retinitis pigmentosa, but still loved to bake.
“She lived alone, her husband had passed away and her sons were grown, yet she basically continued to do all the things she had done before — other than drive,” Heit says. “She even taught people who were losing their sight how to function.”
More Q.D. Foodie products lay ahead, Heit says. Five items already in the production pipeline are slated for 2019, including a set of bowls.