What is a Lazy Susan?

Learn all about what a Lazy Susan is, how it got its name, and the many creative uses for the revolving corner tray that makes food and other things more accessible or within your reach.

Asian food platter served on a Lazy Susan.

What is a Lazy Susan?

What is in a name? Well, we well get to that in a minute. But let’s just get right to the point. What exactly is a Lazy Susan anyway?

Have you ever been to a restaurant that had a circular, rotating tray resting in the center of the table? This is the essence of what a Lazy Susan is. Its purpose is to make the food resting upon it readily available to all members sitting around the table. To access something on the other side of the Lazy Susan, all you need to do is give it a quick turn.

The reason a Lazy Susan is so helpful at dinnertime is that it keeps you from having to ask Uncle Bob to pass you the mashed potatoes. It stops you from having to interrupt others while they are eating their food, for them to pass you an item, or worse yet, it stops you from having to reach over the top of people eating around you.

Background

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Many people think that the Lazy Susan first appeared in the 1950s and 1960s, but the truth is that historians have traced its origins all the way back to 18th century England, where it was known as a “dumbwaiter.” Perhaps this device became popular when household servants were not readily available. To prove the popularity of dumbwaiters at the time, a Lazy Susan constructed of mahogany that was dated 1780 sold in London for $3,900 at Christie’s auction house.

Many historians agree that the Lazy Susan was born out of the need for additional household help.

The term ‘Lazy Susan’ first reared its memorable head in 1917, when it made a written appearance in a Vanity Fair advertisement. It sold for $8.50 under the name of Ovington’s “Revolving Server or Lazy Susan.” The ad reads in part, “an impossibly low wage for a good servant” and alludes to the Lazy Susan being “the cleverest waitress in the world.”

On the other hand, according to Folklore, the Lazy Susan was invented by Thomas Jefferson, for his daughter, Susan.

Usefulness

Food served on porcelain dish Lazy Susan.

A Lazy Susan may be made of wood, glass or plastic. A Western invention, Lazy Susans are commonly used in Chinese restaurants, both in China and abroad. Smaller versions of the Lazy Susan may be used to rotate cakes while decorating. Other uses include rotating televisions for example.

Creative Uses for Lazy Susans

It turns out that Lazy Susans can be used for more than just serving food. Here are some additional ideas for you to try out with them.

  • Use a Lazy Susan to organize your spice cabinet
  • Use to organize your baking supplies
  • Use to organize your condiments inside your refrigerator
  • Use to organize your craft supplies
  • Use to organize your cleaning supplies
  • Use to organize your hair products

You get the idea. Wherever you want your ‘things’ to become more easily accessible, the Lazy Susan is to the rescue!

Statistics

According to Statista, Lazy Susans, also known as revolving corner trays make up 44% of leading specialty kitchen storage solutions in the United States in 2019.

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