Sporks The Utensils Of The 20th Century

858 words - 3 pages

Sporks - The Utensils of the 20th Century

Over the past century, fast food restaurants have been booming. Chains of restaurants such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Rally’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King have revolutionized society with fast, inexpensive, tasty foods that can be ordered across the country. With these new eateries, plastic utensils have also gained popularity. The drive-up window makes metal utensils obsolete. Customers would drive away with millions of dollars in silverware each year nationwide. Plastic provides cheap, acceptably durable alternatives to the traditional metal forks, spoons, and knives.

The plastic utensil revolution also featured a new implement in the arsenal of cutlery: the spork. A cross between a spoon and a fork, the spork has been the utensil of choice for years at Taco Bell, KFC, Rally’s, Popeye’s, and other restaurants and cafeterias nationwide. Its appeal extends not only from its unique versatility in the transfer of rations from plate to mouth, but also in its value as a plaything, a decorative item, and (to some misguided individuals) an item of inspirational worship.

According to a highly questionable rumor, the spork was invented in the 1940's by the United States army after conquering Japan. General MacArthur declared that eating with chopsticks was uncivilized, and the Japanese should eat with forks and spoons like the rest of the "civilized" world. However, there was some hesitation in the military about "arming" the civilians of the newly conquered land with forks, and so the spork was invented (ag592@yfn.edu). Despite this, the official patent on the name and concept of the "spork" is currently held by Van Brode Milling Co., Inc (shmit@spork.org).

Whatever their origin may be, sporks began appearing in fast food restaurants in the 1960's (ag592@yfn.edu). Their popularity stems primarily from their versatility. This one utensil offers the ability to stab, to spoon, and even, by using the surprisingly sharp side as a wedge, the ability to cut. Sporks are thus suitable for a vast variety of foods, from ground beef and casserole dishes to salads and boiled vegetables; only soup and tough steak present a problem because of their unusually demanding properties. Soup requires a utensil with a larger basin, such as a spoon, for efficient eating, while steak requires sharper, serrated cutting edges and deeper penetration than the small tines of a spork permit. These exceptions are easily forgotten, however, in light of the wide array of foods for which the spork has proven useful.

Sporks also have a prevalent role as a plaything. One can push the spoon-like depression of the spork inside-out creating a "foon." Objects can be loaded into the new depression and then "fired" by pressing the spork back to its normal...

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