The Merry Trio: Knife, Fork, & Spoon at Mama's Treasures Have you ever wondered about the travels of the knife, fork, and spoon through time? These ordinary table utensils offer up a fascinating history of riches, scandal, and ridicule.
knife for each diner, while the French provide only two or three communal knives for the whole table.
Thomas Coryat, an Englishman, observes forks in use in Italy and resolves to use one too. Back in England he is given the nickname "Furcifer," means "fork bearer" but also "gallows bird." He is widely ridiculed and considered effeminate and affected.
Early 17th century
As forks become more common implements at the table and are used for holding food steady while cutting and for conveying the food to the mouth, it is less necessary for knives to be made with pointed tips. They begin to be made blunt at the end.
Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony possesses what is said to be the first and only fork in colonial America. The fad for using a fork has not yet reached the Americas, but Americans continue to import their knives from Europe. The blunted knives imported from Europe are not so easy to eat with as pointed ones were, and many people begin to use a spoon to steady food while cutting it. They then switch the spoon to the right hand to scoop up the bite of food -- the beginnings of what is known today as the zig-zag method.
King Louis XIV of France bans pointed knives--at the table or as weapons--as a measure to reduce violence, further insuring the predominance of blunted knives at the table.
Early 18th century
The four-tined fork has become the rule in Germany. In England, though, forks still have two tines and are not so helpful for scooping up bites of food. Knives there have begun to be fashioned with wide, almost spoon-shaped (though still flat) tips, the better to use them for conveying food to the mouth.
Throughout Europe, the fork has achieved the form which is now most familiar, four curved tines. The curve assists in scooping up food and allows for a clearer view of the food being cut.
Early 19th century
The use of forks has become popular in the United States. They are sometimes called "split spoons."
The Victorian Years
Everywhere in the West specialized utensils proliferate, more in response to the Victorian fondness for bric-a-brac than to any real need. Tomato servers, sardine forks, jelly knives, and cheese scoops are among the many elaborations on the theme.
Stainless steel is invented, providing an inexpensive, easy-to-maintain, and non-reactive metal for making table knife blades. Prior to now, special sterling silver fish and salad knife blades were required to prevent an unpleasant taste that often resulted from using a steel blade on these two items.
At Mama’s Treasures we specialize in kitchen collectibles of the 1940s through the 1980s. I am especially fond of all the vintage utensils we stock. We would like you to come and browse our selection. If nothing else, they’re sure to bring back a memory or two. Right now prices have been reduced 15%-40% on over 600 items