At 2014’s P & J Oyster Shucking Competition, Jacob Hulse cut his hand on his second oyster.
“I knew it, but nobody else knew it at first because I had gloves on,” says Hulse, 27. “So I just kept going.”
He fought through the injury to place third before heading to the hospital for stitches. Those stitches and that incident were an unlikely beginning to where Hulse was headed. His tenacity and ability to work through pain should help Hulse as he enters into the business world – with his new line of oyster knives.
Part of his Blades for Days line of knives, his oyster knives have larger handles and many have funky designs and textures.
The larger handles are out of necessity for Hulse, although not saying that the funky designs and textures also play their role. The handles, though, are about the hands.
“I’ve got big hands,” Hulse says, “and my hand would always be sliding down the knife and I cut my fingers open on the knives. You get more leverage with these bigger knives. When you twist, it pops with no problem.”
Similar to Dyson and other entrepreneurs who had firsthand knowledge of certain product shortcomings, Hulse decided to do something about these oyster knives that didn’t exactly make the cut.
Hulse began making the oyster knives last summer, modifying smaller knives he gets online and attaching the large wooden handles. For some, he burns a crayon over a spool, melting it onto the handle.
“Then I put fiberglass over the top of it, that way it keeps the bond and it lasts forever,” he says.
He also makes wooden stands for the knives to add yet another functional level to his line. Hulse knows how important the utility of these knives are. He grew up in Abita Springs and then Port Sulphur fishing for oysters. After moving to New Orleans, he’s worked at several of the most well-known oyster bars in town, including Felix’s, Frankie and Johnny’s, and Peche. And now the knives.
“So basically my life revolves around something to do with oysters,” says Hulse, “but I don’t eat ‘em!”
Hulse says he’s maybe eaten one oyster in his life, and he just didn’t like it.
“I turn people into oyster eaters all the time. I’ve converted a lot of people, but I don’t eat them. I just tell them they’re good.”
For all those oyster worshippers and oyster converters, there are now some tools that Hulse thinks will make shucking a whole lot simpler. Hulse says he plans to start selling his oyster knives at large events like Jazzfest.