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Unicorn Pepper Mill

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: Jul 19, 2015
Category: Food and Wine

If you’re like us, you have a wooden pepper mill. It holds a week’s worth of peppercorns. There’s an adjustable nut on top that lets you adjust the grind, sort of. It sits next to the stove, so it’s greasy, and if you try to clean it you can’t get all the grease off.

The thing is basically a disaster. But you’ve had it forever, and it matches a wooden salt shaker that came with it in some kind of special at a discount store.

Now is the time to upgrade.

Nantucket is one of my Magic Places, and the Unicorn Pepper Mill is made there, using parts from Italy, also one of my Magic Places. So much for sentiment. The facts are even better.

The Unicorn looks simple, and is, in the way that Apple products or the products of Dieter Rams are simple. Functionality rules. The mill is made of easy-to-wipe-clean plastic. Black plastic; like the Model T, you don’t get a choice of color. There’s a large, easy-to-open hole near the top that allows you to fill the cylinder with peppercorns. You adjust the grind on the bottom with a simple thumbscrew. Then you grind. Batteries? Oh, please.

Grinding is swift and easy. The range of the grind is very coarse to very fine. Look for a design flaw all you like, but good luck — the Unicorn will give optimum performance forever and a day.

For the 9” Magnum Plus mill, you pay $45. [To buy it from Amazon, click here.]
For the 6” Magnum, you pay $36.90. [To buy it from Amazon, click here.]
There’s a 6” white mill to grind salt. It’s also $36.90. [To buy it from Amazon, click here.]

If you believe you get what you pay for, the seemingly high price is not a negative. If you think it’s too pricey, poke around the Web, say at Williams-Sonoma. You like those peppermills better, at those prices? Go right ahead.

We bought the 9” version. It holds a cup-and-a-quarter of peppercorns. But the size matters for a better reason. As the company explains, “The Magnum Plus, because it has such an oversized grinding mechanism, grabs and grinds more pepper than other mills on the market. The larger the grinding mechanism, the more pepper ground per turn. It is very expensive to have this mechanism custom made for us.”

I like the final line of that explanation. And that the grinding mechanisms are made by Tre Spade, an Italian company that’s been manufacturing gears for more than 100 years. But what I really like is producing a cloud of pepper with a turn of the wrist.