Why do people use forks

The history of the fork

In the beginning there were knives, spoons and fingers

As early as the Stone Age, people cut up their prey with hand axes. Over the millennia, this instrument has been refined more and more and developed into a knife.

The spoon as a scoop had models in nature, for example shells, leaves or stones.

But people didn't know a fork for a long time. After all, they had the fingers.

The first forks were probably branch forks or two-pronged skewers that were used to roast the hunted prey over the fire. But forks were not used as cutlery until much later.

The first small two- or three-pronged dining fork are occasionally known from Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquity, i.e. between around 1200 BC and around 500 AD.

But as far as we know today, fork use was not widespread. The poor people mostly ate porridge or bread anyway.

The elites of antiquity, especially those of the Roman Empire, lay at table, comfortably supported on one arm. This meant that only one hand was free to eat and the delicacies were simply put into the mouth with the fingers.

Conveniently, the slaves had cut the food for their employers into bite-sized pieces.

A tool of the devil

For most people in the Middle Ages, it was all about survival. People ate with their hands.

Even in the prosperous high and late Middle Ages, when eating feasts were increasingly cultivated, there was no culture of eating implements. And the fork in particular was considered a tool of the devil and witch.

Whoever uses the fork instead of the finger is mocking God - the famous mystic Hildegard von Bingen (around 1098 - 1179) is said to have done this as early as the early Middle Ages.

It was not until the 16th century that small forks became more and more fashionable, initially as confectionery and fruit forks. They were mainly used by French and Italian women.

As a stand symbol, the forks were small works of art made of ivory, gold and silver, often decorated with precious stones and mother-of-pearl.

With Martin Luther and Erasmus of Rotterdam, many representatives of the people mocked the forks as effeminate adornment and senseless fuss. It was not until the beginning of the 18th century that the fork became increasingly popular in aristocratic circles and became a symbol of aristocracy and luxury.

From mass product to special fork

After that, the mass of the people had to wait about three centuries for the fork. It was not until the 19th century, with the beginning of the industrial revolution, that cheaper materials were available than silver, gold and ivory. With the beginnings of mass production, the fork became affordable for everyone.

Today there are countless different forks for every occasion: cake forks, plastic forks for french fries, snail forks, spaghetti forks, jacket potato forks and forks for left-handers are just a few examples.