A spork or a foon is a hybrid form of cutlery taking the form of a spoon-like shallow scoop with three or four fork tines. Spork-like utensils, such as the terrapin fork or ice cream fork, have been manufactured since the late 1800s; patents for spork-like designs date back to at least 1874, and the word "spork" was registered as a trademark in the US and the UK decades later. They are used by fast food restaurants, schools, prisons, the military, and backpackers.
The spork is a portmanteau word combining spoon and fork. Similarly, the word foon is a blend of fork and spoon. The word "spork" appeared in the 1909 supplement to the Century Dictionary, where it was described as a trade name and "a 'portmanteau-word' applied to a long, slender spoon having, at the end of the bowl, projections resembling the tines of a fork". -- Wikipedia.
My good friend Pete at WRSA suggested some weeks ago that I do a praxis on the mighty Lexan spork, so, after some study and deliberation, here it is.
My first camping experiences were, as many folks of my generation may share, part of my Boy Scout membership. There I learned to like the above eating utensil combination of stainless steel. It was heavy, but it being stainless steel you could actually boil it and get it sanitary for your next meal, unlike some of the wooden and early plastic utensils that some Scouts used. Indeed, the first spork I can recall seeing was one made of wood, crafted of some exotic wood, teak perhaps, in a high school shop class by a fellow Scout. But as for the weight, I was young and didn't know any better. This Boy Scout kit is still serviceable today, and in the 90s I spotted many of these at militia FTXs.
(I also learned in my scouting days what a sorry piece of cookware the issue Boy Scout aluminum mess kit was, but that is for another future praxis post.)
Sporks come in two basic designs and a variety of materials, shapes and colors. Here is the spork that anyone who has eaten at Taco Bell will recognize.
Four versions of the one-ended Spork, in Stainless Steel, Lexan-Plastic,Disposable Plastic, & Titanium. (I particularly like the can opener on the end of the titanium example.)
This is the one-ended spork, with the tines made onto the bowl. Now this is fine, as far as it goes, but if you're like me, you have discovered that trying to eat liquids and other runny stuff, or noodles, is problematic. Ever tried to clean out the last bits of stuff that adheres to the bottom crevices in a cooking pot or canteen cup with a Spork. It is almost as frustrating an experience as my first marriage. Other folks must have thought so too, for the double-ended spork is now almost as ubiquitous as the single-ended and much more popular with hikers and other folks who have to provide for their own "One-Man Logistics" (to borrow a phrase from S.L.A. Marshall's perceptive 1949 study, The Soldier's Load and The Mobility of a Nation, published by the Marine Corps Association Press, Quantico VA, 1980).
Behold, then, the double-ended Lexan Spork (weight approximately 0.3 oz):
Now, the double-ended Lexan spork is mighty fine, but where it fails is putting the utensil to the test of fire.
Note the Lexan sample on the left versus a modified titanium one on the right. This was the fate of many an MRE spoon in the 90s when we were doing extensive "armed camping trips." If it is made of plastic, it WILL melt, even if it is of Lexan.
Stainless steel, of course, will not melt, but it is, by the ounce-allergic standards of today, inordinately heavy. And ounces DO count. "Light is right", is my mantra. Thus we come to the Titanium spork, the ne plus ultra of modern camp cutlery.
This is my current favorite: the LightMyFire Titanium Spork. At almost twenty bucks it is expensive, true, but being titanium it is well-nigh indestructible and weighs in at a feathery 0.6 ounces (17 grams). It combines a knife, fork and spoon in one design and one review says it should be more properly referred to as a "knifoon."
There are many other titanium sporks available, some for as little as five bucks. PureBound.com, here, shows how a titanium spork can be modified to use as a measuring device for cooking in lieu of a measuring cup. Which, if you're like me and have a tough time estimating water volume for recipes, is a "goodness thing."
Anyway, that is my review of the might spork. Feel free to contribute your own cooking gear ideas and experiences in the comments below.