The History of the Fork

Surprising as it may be today, table forks have been a relatively recent development in English speaking countries.

Ancient Egyptians used forks as cooking utensils and bone forks were used in China as early as 4,000 years ago. The Romans also used bronze and silver forks as serving utensils, but it wasn't until the fourth century that the table fork became common in the west. Table forks were known and used before 1000 C.E. in the Middle East, but it took centuries for them to be widely accepted in Europe, especially in the North.

The fork came to Europe through Italy's nobility in the 11th century. As the story goes, an Italian nobleman married a princess from Byzantium. This Byzantine princess brought a case of two-tined table forks to Venice as part of her luggage and outraged the populace and the clergy by refusing to eat with her hands. The utensil was deemed an excessive luxury, though it didn't take long for its popularity to spread.