Karl Zysset (1907–1988) was not only the inventor of the garlic press, he also developed many other useful kitchen utensils and founded the company Zyliss AG to manufacture and distribute them. The company’s simple, well-designed mechanical utensils were found in Swiss kitchens until the 1980s. In 1982, the company was sold to investors and production was relocated to Asia.
Karl Zysset (1907–1988) came up with his first inventions while a bicycle mechanic and proprietor of the Velohaus Zysset in Lyss: a foldout, side-mounted kickstand and a luggage rack. Nothing is known today about Zysset’s garlic consumption, but around 1950 he developed a simple device for pressing garlic cloves into a fine puree, similar to a juice press. This first garlic press featured slightly curved aluminum handles that lay comfortably in the hand just like a bicycle brake. It consists of three parts: a lever with a piston and a cylinder with a perforated bottom. The garlic clove is placed in the cylinder and pressed through the small holes in the bottom by the force of the lever. The simple practicality and convincing ergonomics of the utensil impressed the jury of the Swiss Werkbund, which awarded it the “Die gute Form” seal in 1952. Zysset gave up the bicycle shop and founded Zylyss (a combination of his family name and the company’s location, later changed to “Zyliss”), subsequently devoting himself to the development, manufacture, and sale of kitchen utensils. In addition to citrus juicers with rotating and lever mechanisms, along with bread and sausage slicing machines, Zysset was also responsible for two additional world-renowned technical innovations: the salad spinner and the onion chopper (1953). The latter, with the slogan “Zick-Zick-Zyliss,” made the company name synonymous with Swiss kitchen utensils in the 1960s. (Renate Menzi)