From Academic Kids


Missing image
A fork on a saucer

A fork is an implement with a handle on one end and tines on the other; it is used for pricking, to hold or transfer objects, predominantly food in cooking and eating. Originally, it was used as an eating utensil predominating in the West, whereas in East Asia chopsticks were more prevalent. Today, however, forks are increasingly available throughout East Asia as well.

The utensil (usually metal) is used for transferring food to the mouth or to hold food in place during the cooking process or while cutting it. Transferring is often done without pricking, by positioning the fork beneath the food, thereby holding it atop the tines horizontally, and lifting it to the mouth. To allow for this spoon-like use the tines are typically somewhat curved upwards in design.



Before the fork was introduced Westerners were reliant on the spoon and knife as the only eating utensils. Mostly, however, people would eat food with their hands. Members of upper social classes would sometimes be accustomed manners considered more "proper" and hold two knives at meals and use them to both cut and transfer food to the mouth.

The fork was introduced in the Middle East before the year 1000. The earliest forks usually had only two tines, but those with multiple tines caught on quickly. The tines on these implements were straight, meaning the fork could only be used for spearing food and not for scooping it. The fork was a great development in that it allowed meat to be easily held in place while being cut. The fork also allowed one to spike a piece of meat and shake off any undesired excess of sauce or liquid before consuming it. By the 11th century the table fork had made its way to Italy by way of the Byzantine Empire. In Italy it became quite popular by the 14th century, being commonly used for eating by merchant and upper classes by 1600.

The fork's arrival in northern Europe was more difficult. Its use was first described in English by Thomas Coryat in a volume of writings on his Italian travels (1611), but for many years it was viewed as an unmanly Italian affectation. Some writers of the Catholic Church expressly disapproved of its use, seeing it as "excessive delicacy". It was not until the 18th century that the fork became commonly used in Great Britain. It was around this time that the curved fork used today was developed in Germany. The standard four-tine design also became current at this time (the three-pronged variety is known as a trident).

See also: Zigzag method

Types of fork

Non-cutlery types of fork


  • an history of the evolution of fork design can be found in: Henry Petroski, The Evolution of Useful things (1992); ISBN 0679740392

External links


ca:Forquilla da:Gaffel (bestik) de:Besteckgabel es:Tenedor he:מזלג ja:フォーク nl:Vork (bestek) nn:Gaffel fi:Haarukka sv:Gaffel (bestick)


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