The History of the Fork

Random word of the day is “fork.”

Did you know the use of a fork was once seen as evil?

The origins of the fork date back to the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium but some of the earliest known table forks made their debut in Ancient Egypt. The Qijia, who resided in part of present-day China, also are known to have used forks. The utensil migrated west after Byzantine princess, Theodora Anna Doukaina married the Venetian doge in 1075, brought the utensil to Venice. God-fearing Venetians saw the fork as a monstrosity.

God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks – his fingers. Therefore it is an insult to Him to substitute artificial metallic forks for them when eating. -St. Peter Damian

split spoon.jpg

In the 16th century during the Italian Renaissance, the popularity of forks began to grow when Catherine de Medici brought along a set of eating forks from her native Florence to France. People also became more aware of hygiene and didn’t want their food covered in filth. Men still preferred to use their fingers as forks were deemed too feminine.

By the 18th century, the upper-class began carrying forks as part of their utensils set. During the industrialization period, the middle and lower-class gained access to the “split spoon.”

In 1633, John Winthrop, a founding father of the Massachusetts Bay Colony received a case of utensils accompanied by a note stating, “for the useful application of which I leave to your discretion.” At this time, the proper use of a fork was still unknown. Once the Americans grew accustomed to the fork, their dining etiquette was critiqued by international users. Everything from how Americans held the fork and whether or not the tines should be facing up or down as you ate the food was a source of controversy.

The popularity of forks blossomed and several variations were created.

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So the next time you use your fork, take a closer look. It had a long journey to become a staple in our lives.