22 December 2005

Spork it Over

Daphne asked: Who invented that odd spoon-fork abomination called the "Spork"?

Thank you for the question, Daphne. Blame for this one can be spread all over the place. I had a vague recollection the spork had been invented during WW2. Apparently, lots of people think this, as there are many entries on the internet saying the same thing. However, the first known patent for a combination utensil dates all the way back to 1874. (That's no typo.)

Registered to Samuel W. Francis, the "Improvement in Combined Knives, Forks, and Spoons" (pictured) combines all the best of the three utensils into one uberutensil that he did not name -- which is probably for the best, when you consider the possibilities.

Other patents for various utensil combinations came along in 1908, 1912, 1978, and 1998; but none of these look like the spork we have come to love (or revile).


kris said...

Hmm. I can offer no verification, but I have heard many Australians assert that the "splade" (combination of fork, spoon, and knife) was invented Down Under. A co-worker even gave us a special silver set of them as a wedding gift.

Christopher said...

Kris: Because different countries have different policies for registering inventions, it is quite possible that this is correct. (Although I located no reference to an Australian version, there was reference to an English version dated after 1874.)

I would be interested to see any source material you might have for this.