Characteristics and Materials Used
The spork is a combination of the fork and the spoon. It has three or four fork tines but with a shallow scoop reminiscent of the spoon.
Various materials are used to make sporks. Among the most popular ones are polycarbonate plastic, titanium, aluminum, silver and stainless steel. Many prepackaged meals have disposable sporks. The plastic sporks are widely used in US prisons because they cannot be used as weapons. This is true regardless of the spork dimensions.
While the spork can be used with different types of food, there are some cases where it is not applicable. For example, the spork cannot be used with puddings, gravy and sauces. It is more suitable for mashed potatoes, coleslaw, cheese and macaroni.
In other words, the spork can be used for solid yet soft food. The spork’s versatility has made it a very popular camping accessory. The utensil is also used by the military and backpackers.
The name is a combination of spork and spoon, as is foon. The word was first recorded in 1909 in the Century Dictionary. The dictionary described it as a slender spoon with the ends looking like forks.
History and Origin
Records show that various spork dimensions and variants had been in use since the 1800s. Among the so-called proto-sporks are the ice cream fork and the terrapin fork.
Numerous patents for the device have been given. The earliest patent given is in 1874 to Samuel W. Francis of the US. His invention looks like a combination of a spoon, fork and knife.
Other early patents have been given too. US patent 904,553 was granted to Harry L. McCoy in 1908. His invention was a cutting spoon that looks like a spork. Another patent was given to Frank Emmenegger in November 1912 for his tine edged spoon.
As these inventions predate the word spork, they are called proto-sporks. But it is clear that the idea of combining the spoon and fork is a very old one. Among the latest are US patent D247, 153 (1978) and US patent D388, 664 (1998).
Evolution of the Spork
After the word spork came out in 1909, it started being used to depict those inventions. A 1952 article in the New York Times said Hyde W. Ballard of Westtown, Pennsylvania filed an application to have the word spork trademarked. However, records of this patent are no longer available.
His invention was a combination of the fork and spoon made of stainless steel. Another company, the Van Brode Millingahd had the word SPORK registered. But the company abandoned its claim years later.
While the origin of the spork is somewhat in dispute, its popularity has endured. This has resulted in different spork dimensions and types being invented. To this day, various innovations are being implemented.