25 Jun: Introducing… The Fork

The fork had only recently received Royal approval in Britain when it was gifted to the Governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, on 25th June, 1633.

It took centuries for Americans to feel comfortable with this new way of eating, but in Italy it was already gaining ground, as Englishman Thomas Coryat observed in 1611, noting: “the Italian cannot by any means endure to have his dish touched with the fingers, seeing all men’s fingers are not alike cleane. Herupon I myselft thought good to imitate the Italian fashion by this forked cutting of meate.”

In this episode, Rebecca, Arion and Olly consider how the Victorians conspired to make cutlery culturally exclusionary; review the American method of ‘cut and switch’; and wonder whether the early Fork Sceptics were right to question the wisdom of putting metal in their mouths… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Nearly 400 years later, the fork remains at the center of American dining controversy’, Quartz (2018): 


•‘The Rise of the Fork’, Slate (2012): http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/design/2012/06/the_history_of_the_fork_when_we_started_using_forks_and_how_their_design_changed_over_time_.html?via=gdpr-consent

•‘The History of the Fork’ by History of the Plate on YouTube (2017):

We had EVEN MORE to say about forks and cutlery in general. No really. To hear bonus material this and every week*, support the show NOW at Patreon.com/Retrospectors!(*top two tiers only)