A Stir The Pots Post

Joe Ades, Union Square’s Peeler Man

by | Apr 20, 2008 | pictures

When I went to Union Squares green market Saturday to do some food shopping, I ran into a familiar figure on the corner of 15th and Broadway. Joe Ades is a fellow with a dapper suit whose equally charming spiel, spoken in fine Cockney meter, sells  a five dollar Swiss-made peeler. Joe has the routine of a quality English street barker, which makes sense as he’s originally from Manchester in Great Britain. 

Actually, he likes to describe himself as a "grafter," a British term for someone "who works hard." And that he does, or at least he works hard at capturing and entertaining a crowd. He’s awfully good. The man has has been written about frequently, from profiles in Vanity Fair to articles in the New York Daily News, the latter about which he boasts, in between his sales of peelers. Having caught his speech in the past, initially I was about to forgo it on this visit. But then his Carey Grant demeanor, as well his  banter with kids in strollers, and chatting with the parents pushing them, captured my attention.

In Howard Kaplan’s Vanity Fair article, he talked about days of fine meals and sipping Veuve Cliquot at fancy city restaurants, and his pleasure when other glamorous diners asked him how he spent his days, he’d tell them "I sell peelers." Apparently, the handsome old Mancunian (apparently, the terminology for folks from Manchester), he lives with his wife in an apartment on Park Avenue. The peelers, according to Joe, are all stored in the room once reserved for maids. Times change but Joe Ades remains to deliver New Yorkers his words, charm and peelers.


  1. Robin Lee Tague

    I will be in New York next week and would like to know how I can buy the potato peeler from Mr. Ades.

  2. Jeremy

    Just go and pay 5 bucks and Mister Ades will give you one!

  3. steveg

    I searched for a Swiss peeler and found three.
    Kuhn Rikon (from Switzerland) makes several, including a plastic with carbon steel blade, one with a ceramic blade, and one with a stainless steel blades. None of these look like the models he uses in the two videos I’ve seen him in.
    The ‘Swissmar Stainless Steel Peeler’ (UPC 056975504463) looks like it and it is available for $5.99 at Cheftools.com. Sorry, no ‘5-peelers for $20’ deal. Also available at Amazon.com
    Another one is the ‘Rosenhaus Swiss Pro Peeler, Carbon Steel Blade’ (UPC 079686044660) and it is available for $5.49 at Cheftools.com. Again, no ‘5-peelers for $20’ deal. Also available at Amazon.com
    I just wonder how a Kyocera Ceramic ‘Perfect Peeler’ or JML ‘Pro Ceramic Peeler’ would compare to the peelers that Joe Ades sells.

  4. Robert Bobson

    I used to live near Wall Street, where Joe would come now and then to hawk his peelers. They were indeed excellent and, frankly, a great buy at $5.00. I regret not having bought more of them.
    He will be missed.

  5. Elizabeth

    Mr. Ades passed away this week. God bless.

  6. Sarah

    The Rosenhaus Swiss Pro Peeler seems to be the one he was selling, but buying it online is NOT the same as buying it from him with a free demonstration!
    It would be nice if someone did a follow-up, now that Mr. Ades has passed away — it would be interesting to know a bit more about his life & family. It seems he died rather suddenly, since people were saying he’d been out selling a week before he died. I hope he went peacefully.
    RIP, Mr. Ades, you will be missed.

  7. nick s

    The late Mr Ades sold the Zena Star; if you’re in or around NYC, buy one from his daughter.


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