While I planned to have a cordial conversation, I ended one of my thirty-year friendships over the future of utensils. My then-friend John told me that he could never speak to someone that thought the spork was a competent table tool. Defending the current state of utensils, John called me out of my name. We no longer speak to one another.
That experience hurt. Not so much that John and I are no longer friends (to which we never talked much, anyway), but as a fellow human being he has not be blessed by the magic of the spork. A spoon when you needed, a fork when you want it.
Introducing the spork
I vividly remember a rather humid, recent August afternoon where I enjoyed a cup of read beans and rice, three chicken tenders, and a biscuit from my neighborhood Popeye’s. After finishing my chicken, saving my biscuit for last, I removed my lid from my fresh cup of red beans and rice.
Ready to devour my delicious side, I noted that I needed a fork to pick the red beans, but a spoon to scoop the rice, because I like to eat each separately. Now, I could have used a fork to pick the red beans, and a spoon to shovel my rice, but that would have been too cumbersome to switch between the two. In fact, I can easily see myself being confused on which utensil to use during the course of my meal and giving up on eating the side entirely.
Now, Popeyes, in its ingenious company strategy, decided not to include a fork and a spoon separately, but together in the form of a spork.
While many would have grazed over this invention, I had become dumbfounded at the time on how a small gesture had saved me minutes, or even hours over a many of my meals. By the blessing of a spork, I easily grazed through my red beans and scooped up my rice during that meal.
Now, if you have gotten this far, you may be thinking that even in the case the spork served as sensible utensil for that one time, it doesn’t meet the needs of everyday consumption.
However, I believe that notion to be false.
To disbelief, the spork is no less fallible than a fork or a spoon
Now, don’t get me wrong, the spork is not perfect, but neither is the fork or the spoon. While many academics have widely acclaim the spoon as “practical,” “necessary,” and “sensible,” it falls short when eating hardy pieces of red meat or pricking mixed vegetables. The fork is no stranger to incompetence, either: Have you ever tried eating cereal with a fork? If you ever expect to taste a drop of milk, you can’t.
The spork can become better with public support
The spoon and fork are only as useable as they are because they have been the beneficiary of years of innovations. Many academics believe the Egyptians first contrived the spoon in 1000 B.C. Nearly 1,900 years later, the first patent for the spork was created in the admirable United States of America. In those extra 1,900 years, the spoon has benefitted from mass marketing, and perfection in its crafting.
The very first spoon could have been not much more than respectable at most, but many years of dedication has allowed it to become the best utensil for eating cereal and Jell-O. Years of commitment has allowed the spoon to infiltrate households. Being in existence for 143 years, its almost outstanding to consider that the spork has, in many cases, outmatched the spoon in most eating scenarios.
Sporks cut down on 33 percent of plastic utensil waste
Not only is it cost-saving, but the spork has made a positive impact on the environment. Think about it: There have all been times where we have received plastic utensils—forks, spoons, and knives—and have not used them all in one sitting. In many cases, we throw away any unused utensils because they’re plastic, nearly worthless.
The spork is the common ground for utensil needs. It can be used to prick, it can be use to shovel. Why waste plastic and harm the environment? That is a rhetorical question, of course.
The spork falls short when eating spaghetti (and other ridiculous meals)
Over the last year, I’ve been enthralled with Apple Inc.’s take on technology. It has become the leader of removing obsolete technology to grant a better user experience. From eliminating the optical drive in the laptop to doing away with the headphone jack in the mobile phone, each of its removals allowed us to advance new technologies and not be stuck in the past (and using bulky equipment).
Utensils hold us back in the same way. If humankind remains stuck on the mentality that we can’t eat certain foods with a product from the future, maybe we need to do away with the food instead of the product.
The spork can be the answer to moving away from simple carbs that have been shown to, time and time again, have negative effects on the human body.
To that regard, the spork is not perfect, but can use work. Though, over the last 143 years, it has not gotten the attention it needed to be perfected, so much so as the spoon or fork. But I strongly believe if we let go of our past dispositions on familiar utensils and embrace new technologies, consumption will be more conducive for the person and not the meal.
Rev. Dr. Eric M. Craig, Jr., Esq. is a critically acclaimed food scientist and dietician for the National Authority on Sporks and Other Less Known Utensils. Views and opinions in this column are representative of all Starnated Magazine employees.