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Published November 25, 2011, 12:00 AM

Invention reduces sunflower seed mess

Fargo - Mary Bjerke enjoys eating sunflower seeds while on the road, but she got tired of the mess. Either the bag would spill over or Bjerke would need to stop at a gas station to get a cup to spit out the shells.

By: Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, INFORUM

Fargo - Mary Bjerke enjoys eating sunflower seeds while on the road, but she got tired of the mess.

Either the bag would spill over or Bjerke would need to stop at a gas station to get a cup to spit out the shells.

So she invented The Spitster: two reusable plastic cups that attach to each other and fit in a vehicle cup holder. The larger cup is for storing the seeds, and the smaller is for discarding the shells.

“If I have the need, there’s got to be other people who have it, too,” Bjerke said.

She describes The Spitster as “two cups in one, for your seed-eating fun.”

Bjerke’s first version of The Spitster was two vegetable cans attached with a hinge. She then sought the help of the Institute for Business and Industry Development at North Dakota State University to develop a working prototype and apply for a patent.

The gadget is manufactured by Terhorst Manufacturing in Minot.

Bjerke, 56, is in her third year of selling the seed contraption through her company, Gadgets Galore.

She started mainly selling to friends and family but now sells them online and at fairs and product shows.

“I sell them by the hundreds,” Bjerke said. “It’s just amazing.”

Ann Rathke of Fargo stopped by Bjerke’s booth during last weekend’s Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase in Fargo.

Rathke said she’s considering buying a Spitster, and she was impressed that Bjerke is the woman who invented it.

“Sunflower seeds are a hassle, but I do like them,” Rathke said.

Some gas stations and convenience stores around the region sell The Spitster, including RJ’s Conoco in West Fargo. Manager Jan Monson said they sell a ton of sunflower seeds and there’s been a lot of interest in The Spitster.

Some people use The Spitster for other snacks, such as pistachios, candy or ketchup and fries.

Bjerke works full time as an insurance claims adjustor for American Family but will retire next year after the branch office closes. She then plans to take her gadget on the road and make it her full-time job.

“I’m just thrilled when people say, ‘What a great idea’ or, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ ” Bjerke said.


Online

- The Spitster is available at www.thespitster.com. It’s also sold in some regional stores, including RJ’s Conoco in West Fargo. Bjerke will have a booth at the Bismarck Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase Dec. 2-4.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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