It’s time to admit we made a big mistake and just start over. And I’m not talking just about Western Civilization here. This problem is global and it’s costing us billions in lost productivity and waste every day.
Yes, we're talking about the stuff we use to shovel food into our faces, the hoity toity pointy things that separate us from the savages who eat with their hands. We’re talking about forks and knives and spoons, of course, and especially the worst invention of all time, chopsticks.
Yes, there’s history and tradition and folklore at stake, but it’s best to fess up now and move on. We made a mistake, we can fix it, and we can do better in the future.
Let's start with forks, which are a perfect example of too many options and no real differences. We’ve got salad forks, dinner forks, fish forks, oyster forks, pasta forks, even ice cream forks, and basically they’re all just sticks with extra points. Skewer the food, put it in your piehole and chew. Why make it more complicated than that?
Our most frequent plague is the salad fork, which offers no benefit whatsoever. They’re smaller than dinner forks, as if that makes some functional difference, and they’re absolutely useless for eating salad the way it’s made today. There was a time when salads were all the same...tiny pieces of lettuce with a chopped tomato tossed in for color. Now, your typical piece of “salad” is a whole spinach leaf that you have to fold over twenty times before it becomes a bite-size morsel. Try picking one up with a salad fork and you have to keep shoveling in the pieces still hanging after the first two feet get past your lips. Tongs would work much better, if you ask me.
Then there’s the butter knife, which is designed for the stick butter nobody uses anymore,. We’re all using whipped butter now, but butter knives are still too long to fit into the tub to scrape out a serving and they’re pathetic at spreading the butter anywhere.
Teaspoons are just plain silly, since sugar comes in packets, not bowls, and stirring our tea is an archaic affectation of the landed gentry. And don’t get me started on soup spoons, those gigantic shovels that are so big they leave half the soup stranded in the bowl. I think Mad Magazine invented a combination soup spoon/straw that should have caught on decades ago, if we weren’t so fixated on custom that we can’t change for the better. Now is the time, friends, even though straws are on the defensive in our fight to save the sharks.
Table knives? What’s the point? You can cut the soft items with the edge of your fork—even if it isn’t exactly etiquette 101—and they’re not sharp enough for anything that actually requires cutting. Why not just change the name of steak knives to dinner knives and save us all a ton of time and aggravation. Also, one less piece of inventory we’ll need to keep on hand in the kitchen drawer and one less item on the bridal registry.
And then there’s chopsticks. Yes, I know, ancient traditions, cultural touchstones, yada yada. But, really, let’s get real. They’re sticks. As bad a job as the rest of the world has done in designing stuff to get food into our gullets, these are not exactly Asia’s finest contribution to civilization. I use them when I’m eating Chinese food, but I have yet to find a meal where a fork would not work just as well or better. And, well, they’re sticks.
In fact, the perfect food for chopsticks isn’t Asian at all. It’s Cheetos. The worst thing about eating Cheetos is that the “cheese” crumbs and grease get all over your hands. You can’t eat them with a fork or spoon, but with chopsticks? Problem solved.
So maybe we don’t need to get rid of chopsticks, or salad forks, or soup spoons, but a whole ton of repurposing is definitely in order. Where are all those out-of-the-box thinkers when we need them? The last great invention in eating utensils was the spork, and we’ve all aged a ton since then.
Meanwhile, try the veal.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.