1943 Splayds invented

Splayds are a combination of knife, fork and spoon. They were invented by William McArthur in Sydney, supposedly after seeing ladies struggle to eat at barbecues with standard cutlery, from plates on their laps. They were not mass marketed until 1962, when eating in front of the television had become commonplace. Splayds were popular as a wedding gift in the late 1960s and are still available in a range of sizes and finishes.

It seems that the utensil’s name came from the verb “to splay” meaning to slant, slope or spread outwards.  However, it’s also a nice combination of spoon and blade. According to the Splayd company, more than five million Splayds have been sold over the years, in countries around the world.

The initial design was sold to Stokes Pty Ltd in 1960 and the product redesigned for mass production. According to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, by 1991 Stokes had sold 4.75 million Splayds in 52 countries. In Britain in the 1970s, they were manufactured by Viners of Sheffield.

The Americans have a similar object called a Spork, which has a much longer history than Splayds. According to Wikipedia,  Spork-like utensils have been manufactured since the late 19th century, with patents dating back to at least 1874. The word, clearly a combination of spoon and fork, appeared in the 1909 supplement to the Century Dictionary, which defined it as a trade name applied to a long, slender spoon having, at the end of the bowl, projections resembling the tines of a fork.

Sporks have taken many forms and have been made of various materials including plastic and stainless steel. They differ from Splayds in that they are generally less designed for cutting through food. The generic term for Splayds is supposedly ‘sporf’ but other manufacturers have called their versions ‘buffet forks’ reflecting a common use of the utensil in the 1960s.

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