A Brief History of the Spork
The most grievous and recurrent misconception about the spork is that its name is a portmanteau of “spoon” and “fork.” Being part spoon and part fork this seems like the most obvious origin, but in fact the spork was invented by Edwin C. Sporke in New Orleans. Sporke invented the Spork in 1776, and the year is no coincidence. The story of the Spork is in fact, the story of the United States of America.
The year was 1773 and the industrial revolution was in its first decades. The colonists that would form the government of the United States were just arriving in the 13 colonies. At the age of 21, Thomas Jefferson had just been fired from his job in tech support at the University of Oxford. The only record of his duties there suggests that he mostly cleaned the old valuable globes, clocks, compasses, and the Ancient Abacus of Ankh-Ent-Ah-Baccus, where he is noted as having done a substandard job at removing abacus lint from the device. With no job and no prospects in England, Jefferson moved on up to the colonies in America, where he could begin a new life.
Jefferson came to America with only $7 to his name, and those dollars were worthless as the U.S. Treasury would not be formed for another 25 years. He arrived at the port of New Orleans, which was at the time called “Orleans-To-Be.” He had at the time no interest in politics, and applied to work at the only English-speaking establishment in the town. His days at McDonalds were unproductive. He slaughtered the cattle for beef, he peeled the potatoes for french fries, and he ground the bones for bread, which was made from bone powder before the evolution of wheat. But one important thing happened in his years at the restaurant: He met Edwin C. Sporke.
Sporke had arrived from Norway the year prior, and changed his name from Edvald Cornelius Sporkbeklagerdenfalskenorskenavnet to Edwin C. Sporke. Jefferson first saw him when he picked up his order for a Mutton McGruelbowl. Sporke sat down and, to Jefferson’s dismay, began trying to eat the liquid gruel with a fork. Curious, he brought the man a spoon and asked why he wasn’t using it instead. Sporke explained that spoons had been banned in Norway for hundreds of years owing to the infamous “Blood Spooning” of Vikings, from whom the Christian monarchy wanted to distance themselves. Jefferson encouraged Sporke to try, but he was hesitant. Finally, he agreed to eat the gruel with both at the same time, overlapping. The spork was born.
Because it could eat gruel more efficiently than a spoon or fork on their own, Raymond McDonald immediately began producing the utensil. This was done at first by having Jefferson weld spoons to forks, a job he so detested that he left for the east coast, taking the idea with him and keeping (most of) Sporke’s name attached, promising him royalties. Upon his arrival, Jefferson saw the next thing that would revolutionize the way we eat: The assembly line.
Famous entrepeneur- entrepeneuer– entreprenur—- famous businessman Henry Ford was living in New York, growing very rich with his mass constructed horse drawn carriages. Jefferson was impressed with the method, and immediately endeavored to accomplish a mass produced spork by means of his diligence, hard work, and persistence in buying slaves to do his real work for him. Among his early customers was Benjamin Franklin, who would go on to play so an integral role in the founding of the United States that well over 0.04% of Americans can tell you his role even today. Franklin loved the idea of the spork and showed it to George Washington, who could only eat gruel owing to the loss of his teeth in bad poker game in 1771. The men got along splendidly, and the rest, as they say, is history.
For Jefferson and the country at least. Records of Edwin Sporke are fewer and less revolutionary. Sporke never got any royalties. Whether Jefferson never sent them or whether they were stolen by railroad bandits en route will never be known, but as railroads only began delivering mail after 1804, most historians suspect Jefferson cheated Sporke out of his share of the profits. The only thing we now know for certain about Sporke is that he died in 1779, stabbed to death with his own invention during an argument over whether zebras were striped or spotted. Sporke not only died in the encounter, but made a fool of himself by claiming that the animals were spotted, having been tricked at a local zoo that displayed a dalmatian claimed to be the elusive African zebra.
But thankfully we now know his name, and his fate, and his integral role in the building of both the U.S.A. and the spork that bears his name. In this respect he remains far more fortunate than Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Nafzawi, who invented the spork in 1211 in Tunisia and is not remembered in any European history books at all for obvious reasons.