Joy in the Mundane: Winter 2022

The Evolution of Cutlery – Quality to Simplicity

Document Type

Student Work

Publication Date

Winter 2022


cutlery, utensils, evolution of cutlery, fork, knife, spoon, sporf, knork


This project was created using the tool TimelineJS, The project gives an overview of the evolution of cutlery starting in the early 1800’s to the current day. In the beginning of the 1800’s cutlery was already a part of all the households in Europe. Come the mid 1800’s is when differently utensils started to arise for different food items, for example forks for fish, berries, cakes, even cucumbers had their own designated utensil. The upper classes during this period also viewed cutlery as a sort of status symbol, which is when expensive sets of cutlery started to arise in popularity, cutlery made from expensive materials like elephant trunks.

In the late 1800’s the French and British were known for their superior workmanship when creating beautiful handmade custom sets of cutlery. Come the early 1900’s there was a massive boom of demand for cutlery, which could be met by the Americans with their industrial capabilities. During the peak of this boom close to 25 hundred people were employed across America, at over 200 different manufacturing plants. Different types of cutlery like the sporf, the spork/foon, the knork started to arise in this time period as well. Exports of American cutlery related items skyrocketed throughout this time period as well, the dollar amount of cutlery related exports where 10 times that from 1912 to 1918.

Coming into the 2000’s cutlery was a lot less of status symbol. We also saw plastic cutlery start to appear in the pre the 2000’s which arose many environmental concerns Later on in the 2010 cardboard came about, which address the issue of having something accessible and disposable for takeout necessities yet addressed the environmental concerns.


Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences (FHASS)

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.