You can use only one utensil. What do you pick?
Simple: Spoon. The unpretentious, effective, and appealing Spoon.
While I occasionally use Forks, if I must choose, I will pick a Spoon over a Fork for most meals, assuming both have similar heft and quality (nobody needs to be using a flimsy utensil).
The Popular Alternative
I know what you’re about to say, and I’m going to stop you before you try to be all cute and tell me to use a Spork, the utensil that tries to have two identities and fails at both.* I’ve made the same naïve blunder before, and I regret it to this day.
*For clarity, a Spork is a utensil that combines the Spoon and Fork into the same end of a utensil. Multi-utensils with a Spoon on one end and Fork on the other, are objectively not Sporks.
In concept, the Spork seems like a practical solution. Why choose between a Fork and a Spoon? In reality, though, this Frankenstein’s monster of cutlery takes two perfectly capable utensils and reduces them both to incompetence. The spork is constructed of a too-shallow bowl interrupted by prongs that, in turn, are too short to stab anything.
Give me a break.
A Naïve Blunder
The blunder I mention above was on the trail, a setting where you notice the minutiae of your reality – not only the natural world around you, but the aches in your body, the weight of your pack, the taste of the water you just treated, and of course, the shortfalls of your utensil.
One day into a multi-month hike a couple years back, I was struggling to scrape the last valuable morsels from the corners of my cooking pot with the Spork I packed. The prong-tipped Spork was not working. I was as frustrated as I was unsatisfied.
Food is one of your most valuable resources in this situation. You want to get it into your body for two crucial reasons: sustenance and the fact that food scraps attract wildlife. The Spork failed me, and I bought a Spoon at my next resupply. I used it for the rest of my trip with zero issues.
The Versatile Spoon
With our lengthy Spork detour resolved, I come back to my initial argument.
The Spoon is the most versatile, and therefore the optimal, utensil to keep in my pack, my car, and in my desk, waiting for the next unknown meal.
Yes, Forks have their place, and I wouldn’t rob anyone of their Fork usage, but I’d be willing to bet you can manage with a Spoon if you must, even for meat or spaghetti.
A good robust spoon (Size and shape do matter. See example images in this post) can get the job done, while a Fork won’t fare so well for soup, ice cream, or cereal.
Spoons also clean-up easier than Forks. And don’t get me started on egg races… You never know when your next egg race challenge could spring up. Good luck crossing that finish line with a fork.
The Spoon is everything it ought to be, and nothing more. Don’t overcomplicate things. Use a Spoon.
About the Author
Owen (VanGrizzle on the trail) works in Product Design and Development at Darn Tough. He's worked for the company since 2016, but even before he was hired, Darn Tough socks were the only socks he would wear. He's a resident sock tester, having thru hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2017 and Vermont’s own Long Trail twice.