My husband and I “invented” spork on the eve of our first son’s birth. We were very pleased with ourselves–weren’t we clever! (Spork! A hybrid form of flatware. A delicious portmanteau!) Then one afternoon, as I was walking down by Toronto’s Harbourfront I noticed a kitchenware store called Spork and Foon that was having a “Going Out of Business” sale and realized that we weren’t as original as we had thought. Was it a bad omen that the store was going out of business? Possibly. Was it a symptom of society’s tendency to neglect its mongrels and misfits? Perhaps. After purchasing a discounted garlic press and delivering a few words of condolence to the cashier, I decided it was time to move on and find out more about this “already-invented” thing called a “spork”.
Here are a few facts that I unearthed:
- A spork by definition is round like a spoon, but has tines on its end that act like a fork. It’s shallow enough to consume liquids, but pronged for spearing solids.
- It turns out there are patents for sporks dating back to the late 1800s! (I was a mere 120+ years late in my discovery…)
- A plastic spork is the utensil of choice for the world’s most famous fried chicken outlet, which introduced it in the early 1970s, to accompany a popular coleslaw dish.
- Sporks are popular in school cafeterias and U.S. prisons. Why? Because sporks are harmless creatures. Try using a spork as a weapon. Not so easy.
- Sporks, especially the lighter titanium types, are very popular among backpackers.
- If personal field research is any indication, sporks are the ultimate eating utensil for very young children (aka the ham-fisted “messy things” in the story).
Be the spork you want to see in the world.
— Mahatma Gandhi