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Why Do Forks Have Four Tines?

Why Do Forks Have Exactly Four Tines?

You may have noticed that a fork nearly always has four tines, or prongs, on it. In the several times a day you use this eating utensil, have you ever wondered how it came to look the way it does today?

This wasn't always the case. The fork actually started out in Western Europe as an agricultural tool, eventually evolving to become a kitchenware in the 1500s. Back then, early versions only contained two tines. But according to Bill Bryson, author of the book At Home, two-tined forks caused a lot of pain to diners who accidentally jarred themselves, perhaps after one too many tipples.

To rectify this problem, fork makers experimented with a greater number of tines, but ultimately settled on four as the most comfortable for diners.

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Join The Conversation
limelindsey limelindsey 5 years
My silverware actually has three tines! I've always liked that better. But most have four, tis true.
Spectra Spectra 6 years
Haha, my husband has been known to use the meat fork (with two tines) to eat pieces of meat...and then he complains that he pokes his tongue with it. Interesting!
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