Everyday Usability 4 – The flying spork

Everyday Usability 4 – The flying spork

While on a flight I noticed an unexpected type of cutlery. The stewardess served a noodle salad in a see-through plastic bowl. I received only the bowl. After waiting for a while I began to search for the cutlery. I could not see anything obvious attached to the bowl and there was no hint on the bowl whatsoever. When I looked around looked into the confused faces of my fellow passengers. The bottom of the bowl brought somewhat insight. There was a huge sticker. It was not obvious and there was no hint, but when I removed the sticker a small hole appeared in which the cutlery was. Below you see a photo of the cutlery.

New cutlery: spork - merged spoon and fork
Spork – merged spoon and fork

What it revealed was a merge of spoon and fork. The combination was good to pick up the noodles with the fork like top and grab the small cut pieces of vegetables and salad dressing with the spoon like end. It combines perfectly the food-stabbing ability of a fork with the liquid-holding ability of a spoon.

A little research after the flight revealed that it is not a new type of cutlery. Examples of this design exist from the late 19th century and even patents date back to 1874. Apparently there are different variations of the design, some more spoon like and others more fork like. There are even folding versions with a spoon on one end and a fork on the other. And whereas this is a plastic version, there are more robust ones out of metal or titanium.

A US company, and later a UK company as well, named the design merge of fork and spoon “spork” (combining the words spoon and fork) and even registered trademark on it, which is now expired. Sporks are often used in fast food chains, military, camping equipment, schools, and flights (however, I have never met one before :)). Interestingly I did not find anyone attempting to name it foon.


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