Parisian François Boullier and Englishman Isaac Hunt both took credit for inventing the cheese grater in the 1540s, either to get rid of surplus cheese in France, or to eat economically in England. During the Great Depression, Philadelphia cheese monger Jeffrey Taylor made the first American cheese grater by filing the holes of a shower drain to sharpen the edges.
Cheese graters have been made of bamboo, wood, and a variety of metals. Some feature novelty designs, while others bear practical knuckle protectors. Many cooks have to buy the latest grater, while others prefer the kitchen memories that come with using their grandmother’s or mother’s.