A spoon is a utensil consisting of a small shallow bowl (also known as a head), oval or round, at the end of a handle
. A type of cutlery
(sometimes called flatware in the United States), especially as part of a place setting
, it is used primarily for transferring food to the mouth. Spoons are also used in food preparation to measure, mix, stir and toss ingredients and for serving food. Present day spoons are made from metal (notably flat silver or silverware
, plated or solid), wood, porcelain
or plastic. There are a wide variety of spoons that are made of a variety of materials and by different cultures for many different uses and foods.
Preserved examples of various forms of spoons used by the ancient Egypt
ians include those composed of ivory
and wood, many of them carved with religious symbols
During the Neolithic Ozieri civilization in Sardinia
, ceramic ladles
and spoons were already in use. In Shang Dynasty
China, spoons were made of bone. Early bronze
spoons in China were designed with a sharp point, and may have also been used as cutlery
The spoons of the Greek
s and Roman
s were chiefly made of bronze and silver and the handle usually takes the form of a spike or pointed stem.
There are many examples in the British Museum
from which the forms of the various types can be ascertained, the chief points of difference being found in the junction of the bowl with the handle.
In the early Muslim world
, spoons were used for eating soup. Medieval
spoons for domestic use were commonly made of cow horn
, but brass
, and latten
spoons appear to have been common in about the 15th century.
The full descriptions and entries relating to silver
spoons in the inventories of the royal and other households point to their special value and rarity.
The earliest English
reference appears to be in a will of 1259.
In the wardrobe accounts of Edward I
for the year 1300 some gold and silver spoons marked with the ''fleur-de-lis
'', the Paris
mark, are mentioned.
One of the most interesting medieval spoons is the Coronation Spoon
used in the anointing of the English and later British sovereign
; this 12th-century object is the oldest surviving item in the British royal regalia.
The sets of Apostle Spoons
, popular as christening presents in Tudor times
, the handles of which terminate in heads or busts of the apostles, are a special form to which antiquarian
The earlier English spoon-handles terminate in an acorn
, plain knob or a diamond
; at the end of the 16th century, the baluster
ending becomes common, the bowl being fig
During The Restoration
, the handle becomes broad and flat, the bowl is broad and oval and the termination is cut into the shape known as the hind
In the first quarter of the 18th century, the bowl becomes narrow and elliptical
, with a tongue or rat's tail down the back, and the handle is turned up at the end.
The modern form, with the tip of the bowl narrower than the base and the rounded end of the handle turned down, came into use about 1760.
File:Cuillère Fontalès Paléolithique MHNT.PRE.2010.0.11.1.jpg|Spoon engraved in reindeer antler, Magdalenian c. 17,000c. 12,000 BCE
File:Hoxne Hoard 20.jpg|Roman spoons from the Hoxne hoard, c. 4-5th century CE
File:Spoon national museum india.JPG|Jade spoon, Mughal dynasty, India
File:MaryRose-wooden spoon3.JPG|Wooden spoon found on board the 16th century carrack ''Mary Rose''
File:Spoon, 19th century, 05.588.7429.jpg|Native American Yurok spoons, 19th century
Types and uses
Spoons are used primarily for eating liquid
or semi-liquid foods, such as soup
or ice cream
, and very small or powdery solid items which cannot be easily lifted with a fork
, such as rice
s and green peas
. In Southeast Asia
, spoons are the primary utensil used for eating; forks are used to push foods such as rice onto the spoon as well as their western usage for piercing the food.
Spoons are also widely used in cooking and serving. In baking, batter
is usually thin enough to pour or drop from a spoon; a mixture of such consistency is sometimes called "drop batter".
Rolled dough dropped from a spoon to a cookie sheet can be made into rock cake
s and other cookie
s, while johnnycake
may be prepared by dropping spoonfuls of cornmeal onto a hot greased griddle.
A spoon is similarly useful in processing jelly
. A test sample of jelly taken from a boiling mass may be allowed to slip from a spoon in a sheet, in a step called "sheeting". At the "crack" stage, syrup from boiling
sugar may be dripped from a spoon, causing it to break with a snap when chilled. When boiled to 240 °F. and poured from a spoon, sugar forms a filament, or "thread". Hot syrup is said to "pearl" when it forms such a long thread without breaking when dropped from a spoon.
Used for stirring, a spoon is passed through a substance with a continued circular movement for the purpose of mixing, blending, dissolving, cooling, or preventing sticking of the ingredients. Mixed drinks may be "muddled
" by working a spoon to crush and mix ingredients such as mint and sugar on the bottom of a glass or mixer. Spoons are employed for mixing certain kinds of powder into water to make a sweet or nutritious drink.
A spoon may also be employed to toss ingredients by mixing them lightly until they are well coated with a dressing.
For storage, spoons and knives were sometimes placed in paired ''knife boxes
'', which were often ornate wooden containers with sloping top, used especially during the 18th century. On the table, an ornamental utensil called a ''nef
'', shaped like a ship, might hold a napkin, knife and spoon.
File:18-03-25-Küchenutensil-DSCF1429.jpg|Spoon with special tip for kiwifruits or melons
File:18-03-25-Küchenutensil-DSCF1431.jpg|Spoons for salad
File:Spoonful of cereal.jpg|Cold breakfast cereal held in a dessert spoon
File:Soup Spoon.jpg|stainless steel bouillon spoon
Language and culture
Spoons can be used as a musical instrument
To ''spoon-feed'' oneself or another can simply mean to feed by means of a spoon. Metaphorically, however, it often means to present something to a person or group so thoroughly or wholeheartedly as to preclude the need of independent thought, initiative or self-reliance on the part of the recipient; or to present information in a slanted version, with the intent to preclude questioning or revision. Someone who accepts passively what has been offered in this way is said to have been spoon-fed.
A spoonful—the amount of material a spoon contains or can contain—is used as a standard unit of measure
for volume in cooking
, where it normally signifies a teaspoonful. It is abbreviated ''coch'' or ''cochl'', from Latin ''cochleare''. "Teaspoonful" is often used in a similar way to describe the dosage for over the counter medicines
. Dessert spoon
ful and tablespoon
ful may also be found in drink and food recipes. A teaspoon holds about 5ml and a tablespoon about 15 ml.
The souvenir spoon
generally exists solely as a decorative object commemorating an event, place, or special date.
For machine-made spoons, the basic shape is cut out from a sheet of sterling silver
, nickel silver alloy
or stainless steel
. The bowl is cross rolled between two pressurized rollers to produce a thinner section. The handle section is also rolled to produce the width needed for the top end. The blank is then cropped to the required shape, and two dies are used to apply the pattern to the blank. The flash
is then removed using a linish
er, and the bowl is formed between two dies and bent.
To make a spoon the traditional by way of handforging
, a bar of silver
is marked up to the correct proportions for the bowl and handle.
It is then heated until red hot and held in tongs
and using the hammer
, beaten into shape. The tip of the bar is pointed to form the tip of the bowl, then hammered to form the bowl. If a heel is to be added, a section down the centre is left thicker. The edges of the bowl and the tip of the spoon are left thicker as this is where most of the thickness is needed. The handle is then started and hammered out to length going from thick at the neck and gradually tapering down in thickness giving a balanced feel. During this process, the piece becomes very hard and has to be anneal
ed several times, then worked again until the final shape is achieved.
The bowl is filed to shape, often using a metal template. The bowl is then formed using a tin cake and spoon stake. The molten tin
is poured around the spoon stake and left to harden. The handle is then bent down to 45 degrees, and the spoon is hammered into the tin using the spoon stake and a heavy hammer, to form the bowl. The bend in the handle is then adjusted to match the other spoons in the set and so it sits correctly on the table. The bowl is then file
d level, a process called striking off. The surfaces are filed, first with a rough file to remove the fire stain from the surface, then with a smooth file. It is then buffed to remove any file marks and fire stain from inside the bowl and is polished to the desired finish.
Both the spork
and the sporf
are derived from the spoon: they combine the bowl of the spoon with the tines
of the fork
and with both tines and the cutting edge of the knife
* List of types of spoons
* Spoon bending
* Spoon theory
* Bednersh, Wayne. ''Collectible Souvenir Spoons: The Grand Tour''. Collector Books, 2000. .
* Rainwater, Dorothy. ''Spoons From Around the World''. New York: Shiffer Publishing, 1992. .
* Spark, Nick. ''Spoons West! Fred Harvey, the Navajo, and the Souvenir Spoons of the West 1890-1941''. Los Angeles, California: Periscope Film, 2007. .
The History of Eating Utensils - Spoons
Rietz Collection of Food Technology.
''Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks''. Illustrated article on the hand forging of a spoon.
*History of Spoon - Eating Utensils