The History of Eating Utensils

Sometimes, an historical perspective can reveal the sense of play inherent in even the most commonplace objects. Such is the case in a collection called "The History of Eating Utensils." Seeing how a simple object like a spoon has evolved over time, and from culture to culture, reveals the play between fun and function. Apparently, spoons have been made of shell and wood, gold, silver, and pewter), ivory, bone, horn, pottery, porcelain, and crystal. And the shape has varied as much as the material.

I found the collection of Portable Eating Utensils the most fun, because it expanded my understanding of what an eating utensil can be.

The collection, known as the "Riez Food Technology Collection," is housed at the Anthropology Department at the California Academy of Sciences.


"The Anthropology Department at the California Academy of Sciences houses the Rietz Food Technology Collection. Containing approximately 1,300 items, this collection was assembled by Carl Austin Rietz, an inventor and businessman in the food industry...The variety of forms displayed by many items in the Rietz Collection document the history and evolution of such common utensils as forks, knives, spoons, and chopsticks."

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