Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Knork Difference

So what do you do for eating if you don't like the spork concept?

Back up, is one thing. Hang onto that fork, and your knife, and a separate, free standing spoon.

This works. Drawers in restaurants and homes are full of these. Everyone knows what they are, what they are for, and how and when to use them. Using a spoon, fork, or knife is like knowing your name. You don't have to think about it. You do it, is all.

So you might not like a spork. A spork makes you think, it stops you. You want to get some food from the plate to your mouth and you look down at your hand and there is this thing there and so you have to stop and remember what the heck it is, and how to use it.

Not so with the big three, but the spork and other implements have advantages, as noted.

But hey, that's not all.

You've heard of reinventing the wheel. "Reinventing the wheel" is a phrase used by people who don't like to think for themselves, which is fitting because they're talking about being lazy, which can be good or bad. Reinventing the spoon can be dumb, but it's been done often, as has reinventing the fork, and reinventing the knife, and reinventing something to replace one or more of them at one go.

Reinventing can be lazy and stupid or it can be clever and useful. Even surprising.

One thing is sure. If you don't try reinventing a thing you'll never improve it. Mostly you won't do much improving no matter what, but it's worth a try every now and then.

You might think that the spoon has been around forever but even it hasn't. The word started out meaning something like a flat piece of wood or a wood shaving, and the meaning of spoon as eating utensil didn't show up until about 1300. OK, so? Well agriculture goes back about 10,000 years. It could be that people used wood shavings for 8000 or 9000 years before reinventing the wood shaving and coming up with the spoon.


Fork first shows up as a word in 1463, in the sense of table fork at least, but its ancestors were implements of torture. That one got reinvented.

Knives go way back to the beginning, before even metal, when they were sharp rocks, but they are still being reinvented.

In case you think there's nothing left to do, check out the 2001 patent application from Michael D. Miller of Wichita, Kansas for his "universal fork", combining knife and fork, and throwing in some spoonlike capabilities, while reducing its value as a weapon and increasing its utility as an eating implement for various kinds of disabled persons.

The universal fork is a lot like the knork, in case you've seen a knork. A knork (KNife-fORK) is a fork with a dull knife on the outer edge, and is the same as the knirk (KNIfe-foRK). The knork's two edges (or maybe only one of them) are sharpened to allow food cutting, but other than that it looks pretty much like a fork, or a pastry fork, which is similar.

The knork, knirk, and Splayd might even be hard to tell apart, and you could get confused. The Splayd (a brand name: SPoon-blADe, with a "Y" stuck in there, or just named after "splay", to spread apart) is an implement invented by William McArthur from Sydney, Australia during the 1940s. Not that long ago. His Splayd does triple duty by deliberately combining the functions of knife, fork, and spoon.

If you were ever in the Scouts, a surplus store, or even some contemporary outdoor shops, you might have seen a knife-fork-spoon set that sort of hooks together for storage. Something like that set is the luha, or lusikkahaarukka. Never heard of it, eh? Well it's a fork and spoon set permanently joined by a riveted hinge in the handle so the two implements can swivel like scissor blades.

In case the name seems funny, it's Finnish.

Lusikkahaarukka tend to be stainless steel, are still used by the Finnish army, and apparently most stocks date from World War II. They are made by Hackman, a cutlery and cookware company founded in 1790.

Going back over to the spoon side, we have spifes. They combine spoons and knives, and play well with fruit, though they'd serve most backpacking needs as well, but then again maybe you'd prefer a bamboo foon. With spifes the knife part is in the handle, which could make holding one tricky, but if it's plastic anyway, who cares?

Want to go farther?

Try clothespin chopsticks. Like long, colorful plastic clothespins with a spring hinge at one end and grippy parts at the other. Fun for kids. Long. Goofy. Probably breakable.

Or try forkchops. No spoon function. Sort of stiltlike. Long plastic gizmos that come in pairs, one member forklike and the other knifelike, to be used as ectoplasmic knife and fork, or turned the other way round and used as plastic chopsticks.

Rad chopsticks.

I still prefer squeezing lunch out of a plastic bag's corner. Second choice: using my fingers. Third choice: using a clean stick. Or spending a few minutes whittling a pair of chopsticks. I never eat soup or runny things on the trail, but could just as well drink from my cooking pot, especially since it is a 16 ounce (475 ml) measuring cup. With a civilized handle.

Works for me, but you can go weird if you want.


Clothespin chopsticks
Knork Flatware
Kramer Knives
Universal fork patent
World knives