splaydes.gif

Legend Feel Co are specialists in Australian nostalgia. This sort of thing got a bit overdone in the UK with endless TV rehashes of Z-list celebs going on about Clackers and Spangles, but what caught my eye was I really had been thinking "Whatever happened to Splaydes?".

Splayds were a cross between a knife and a fork, with a little bit of spoon thrown in. Not to be confused with a spork. They were an Australian invention from the 1950s, designed to cope with the culture shift in eating habits that was the cocktail era. They were a big part of my childhood, 2 decades later. If we were having a meal of a particular consistency my mum would issue the command "Jim, get the Splayds" and my dad would unearth them from their box in the sideboard. I bet to this day they're still there, too good to be in with the everyday riff raff of the cutlery drawer.

So while not essential, there are often times when I wish I had one. When a knife is overkill and a fork isn't scoopy enough - eating canneloni for example. I wondered why they didn't catch on and it turns out they have something of a cult following, and their own website with hints at a Splayd resurgence. There is obviously a Splayd-shaped gap in the array of eating implements.

And what struck me was there's a clear trajectory of cutlery innovation in the post-war years running through the Little Fork to the Splayd and beyond (more on the beyond later) but it all seems to be back to basics now. Like any other everyday object cutlery is commonplace but fascinating once you start to dig into its history. If you look at the history of cutlery you'll also be looking at the history of everything else.

[Note: I wrote this a year ago and my inner censor decided not to publish it (too whimsical? Is there such a thing?) but Russell's tweet about sporks got me thinking again. Time for a cutlery revolution, obviously.]

My family were big Splayd fans. We bought a set of four about 30 years ago and they were well used, especially for "TV meals". Because eating one-handed was the future, and still is.

When I left home I managed to negotiate taking two Splayds with me, and I've carried on Splayding ever since. Even tonight, I think, with my low-fat chicken dinner.

Splayds balance really well in your hand and, so long as there's nothing that needs serious cutting, they're perfectly practical.

Alas, no solid silver hallmark, but they do bear the legend
Viners Splayds by McArthur 18/8 Ireland

Sorry, I'm not selling them. But lovely to hear about them again.

I'm so jealous. Here I am trying to eat my Eurovision buffet with a fork and it's just not the same.

I grew up with splayds without knowing they were 'party forks'. 'Party forks' - how exciting is that. We used them pretty interchangeably with other cutlery, except in gardening. My grandma insisted they were particularly effective for pulling up bindies from the lawn.

Did no one tell your grandma that the cocktail era and weeding just didn't go? What a great story. I can just picture it.

Anne, now I know what to buy you for your next birthday!
xLiz

Recommended reading

More from I like's Amazon astore