Today I’m writing, on request, about the long and illustrious history of spoons. To clear things up, spoons are distinctly different from shovels, which are larger and used to move dirt and debris short distances. People use spoons to shovel food into their mouths.
No one knows who invented the spoon, since they’ve been around since the Paleolithic era. I think we can assume that a Paleolithic cave lady, tired of having berry stains on her hands, created the first spoon.
The word spoon was derived from the Greek and Latin term for a spiral snail shell; so most ancient spoons were scoops full of snail guts. During the 1st Century, Romans classed-up spoons by adding a handle, creating the spoon form that lives on today.
Only rich people could afford spoons up until the 14th Century, which brought about the saying, “Born with a spoon in his mouth.” This was later replaced by the saying, “Born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” when the use of pewter made cheap spoons available to the masses.
Spoons have not always been used for good. From the 1890s to the 1920s the
Silver Souvenir Spoon company produced a line of stereotyped and, in some cases, racist spoons. These spoons underwent diversity training and now they’re much more sensitive to today’s multicultural environment.
Modern spoons come in dozens of forms, such as tea, iced tea, soup, table, dessert, grapefruit, caviar, slotted, and absinthe. The world’s largest spoon is located in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in Minnesota. This massive spoon is 52 feet long and it’s used as a bridge across a small pond. The whimsical sculptors Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen placed a giant cherry fountain on the tip of the spoon.
From its grubby beginnings as a crusty snail shell to the glamor of caviar and absinthe, the spoon has made an impact on all of our lives. If you’re ever in doubt, try to eat your soup with a knife.
“Only the spoon knows what is stirring in the pot.” - Italian Proverb
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