/ Home & Energy

I don’t own any spoons – they’re useless


In short, spoons are a superfluous, sub-class of cutlery. And anybody who actually thinks about it will see why. Will you join me in throwing out your spoons?

For the three years I’ve worked at Which?, there have been two recurring themes of arguments with colleagues: the first involves mixing peanut butter and marmite on toast (it’s outstanding, try it, trust me) and the second is that I will never use a spoon again – and you don’t have to either.

If you’re furrowing your brow already, I implore you to think of the reasons that (other) people use spoons; stirring drinks, eating yoghurt. If we’re honest with ourselves, that’s about it. And of the two, stirring drinks is probably the most common, so let’s look at that first.

Shake it, don’t stir it

I distinctly remember opening the cutlery drawer years ago, looking for something to stir my coffee, and finding nothing but an empty section of the cutlery drawer.

Despite then owning a large collection, I once again found myself spoon-less and could only surmise that most had made their way into the dishwasher having barely been used. The rest had presumably evaporated in the curious way that only teaspoons can do. Useless.

Forced to stir my coffee without a spoon, I had an epiphany: shake the coffee.

So I transferred my coffee to my trusty sealed and insulated mug, shook it and peeled open the lid to inspect the contents. Perfection. The milk and sugar had near-instantly dissolved, and the gossamer layer of frothy bubbles added a delicate texture to the drink, just the way coffee should be.

Today, I have a set of insulated mugs and use one at work. Admittedly, it raises a few eyebrows, not least when we’re hosting external meetings and I’m shaking up our guests’ drinks to order. But it’s also an ice-breaker and genuine-conversation starter. Most people I talk to simply, and quickly, accept that my idea has changed the way they think about sugar dissolution in hot beverages, and the meeting can begin.

Sticks are also acceptable

In the unlikely instance that I don’t have my insulated mug on me, I use a stirring stick. A tool machined for a dedicated cause, they are much more efficient than spoons.

But don’t just take my word for it. Dorian Trapér, who runs River Stix, a company that manufacturers and supplies wooden drink stirrers for companies across the UK, says:

‘Think about it – if spoons were actually efficient, we would produce spoon-shaped implements for stirring. But they’re not, so we don’t.

‘Independent studies have shown time and again that a thin bit of wood “chops” up the drink in a much more efficient way than a spoon can, creating small eddies and currents within the liquid that dissolves sugar over 60% quicker than a spoon-stirred beverage.’

Use the fork, Luke

As for eating yoghurt, a fork is actually much more efficient, as you can get into the corners of a pot much easier than with a certain convex-dented shovelling implement.

It also provides a crucial, yet sadly overlooked, health benefit: as yoghurt warms or nears the end of its shelf life, it becomes runny. Enter the fork.

The gaps between the tines (those are the pointy bits) are just far enough apart that yoghurt that is going bad will simply droop through. Whereas healthy, cold yoghurt will brace the gaps nicely.

As I sit here writing this with my coffee shaken, not stirred, and shovelling in fork-safe yoghurt, I feel a sense of peace before the storm. There is no spoon. There was never any need for it. And so, I defy anyone to come up with an actual, logical reason to use a spoon.

Could you live without spoons?

No (you're wrong) (86%, 192 Votes)

Yes (welcome to a brand new world) (14%, 31 Votes)

Total Voters: 223

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I think we could similarly live without knives. Just use your teeth instead and bite off what you want to eat. That’s why we have teeth. No need for knives!

peanut butter and marmite – equally disgusting… 🙂

Mandy A says:
13 April 2015

You could always use two spoons to anoint your toast (absolutely zero cross contamination allowed). My husband also likes peanut butter(yum) with marmite(YUCK!!!) .. half an inch of each! It is his favourite pre-bedtime snack .. I’m considering separate bedrooms .. the aroma follows and lingers…. not even listerine can overpower it!

I admire Adrian’s scientific approach. A scientist likes to experiment, even when it comes to everyday tasks. It makes life more interesting. Sometimes a scientist’s efforts are rewarded with surprise, criticism, incredulity and even mockery. Just occasionally the different approaches are imitated by others and there is nothing more satisfying than having your actions copied by a former critic.

It is appropriate to mention that I eschew teaspoons in the preparation of instant coffee. As a novice research student I equipped myself with a jar of Blend 37 from home, in preparation for working long hours in the lab. Realising that I had forgotten to bring a teaspoon, I punctured a small hole in the paper seal with my right index finger and dispensed a suitable quantity of freeze-dried coffee with ease. It was easy to dissolve the coffee add some milk and fill up the mug so that the contents needed no stirring. Since that day in 1973 I have not needed a teaspoon. Several members of my family and work colleagues followed my example. It saves washing a lot of spoons.

Obviously Adrian has achieved far more than I have in eliminating the need for spoons, but I am willing to experiment. I have not compared the efficacy of stirring with shaking but I do recall that James Bond claimed that the latter was to be preferred.

There are also safety issues to be considered, Adrian. A teaspoon left in a mug of coffee might not cause a serious facial injury but it could result in spillage of the hot liquid. On that basis, any use of spoons should be preceded by a risk assessment.

On the other hand, spoons are generally considered relatively safe compared with knives and forks, which are used to stab and cut meat. This danger is a factor in why young children are presented with spoons rather than knives and forks. It also means that children to be indoctrinated into the need for spoons.

I recall that New Scientist published a list of showing the number of domestic accidents caused by seemingly harmless items such as tea cosies and socks. Sadly there was no information included about spoons.

I hope you are successful in encouraging other members of the Which? team to forgo or even cut down on their use of spoons.

Here is a brief report of the domestic dangers that I mentioned: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/4764106/The-danger-that-lurks-on-your-kitchen-table.html

Perhaps I should make a Freedom of Information request and demand that the public be told the numbers of spoon-related accidents in the home. I will not do this because it would be a waste of public money, but I do hope that we will be told when the results of future surveys are published.

di says:
1 April 2015

Just to add that pnb and Marmite is not a joke

Jill says:
1 April 2015

While I thoroughly endorse the Marmite-and-toast-comments (what’s not to like?) I cannot support calls for spoons to be removed from our consciousness. Without them, what would happen to the egg and spoon race? To the competitions to hang them from our noses for the longest time? To the people who play them in talent contests, hoping to attract X-Factor style attention? And what would become of that song from Mary Poppins? It’s no good, a forkfull of sugar will NOT help the medicine go down!

What are you going to eat your boiled egg with? I like ’em runny.

Patrick – I believe that the current recommendation is to cook eggs until their yolks are solid. I recall a warning about salmonella by Edwina Curried-Eggs.

However, since you are neither a child or elderly and unlikely to become pregnant you are not in the high risk category.

Adrian – I agree with what you say about the unsatisfactory if traditional way of eating boiled eggs. I cannot envisage how cutting a soft-boiled egg in half would work without making a mess. Is this a serious suggestion or just a yolk?

Toast soldiers obviously!

Adrian, You picked the wrong day! Spooning should be confined to February 14th! You could always try chopsticks to stir your coffee today after all as it is 1st April!!!

You might have waited another 55 minutes, Beryl. 🙂

Adrian Sorry to spoil the fun but if you are having trouble stirring your coffee with chopsticks, for the scientific minded among us take a peek at the following: bbc.co.uk – ‘Smart’ chopsticks unveiled in China 4th September 2014.

Thank-you Beryl. It is always interesting to see how technology can enhance our lives.

For simple stirring I am convinced that a broad flat stick is most efficient. Try stirring a tin of paint for example and it is very obvious that a flat stick is better than a circular stick and I doubt that anyone would use a spoon.

You would have to make sure your egg was runny to use such a device! You would have a hard time sucking up a hard boiled egg with a straw like utensil (Pardon the pun). Best to hang on to the odd teaspoon or two Adrian, you never know when you may need one!

Just too late, but as a serious comment I find that eating very hot soup is much safer on a fork than with a spoon – it allows it to cool down before it burns your mouth.

Fork-using has a venerable pedegree, immortalised in the haunting words of this poem :-

There was an old lady of Troon
Who always ate soup with a fork,
For she said, “Since I eat
Neither fish, fowl nor flesh,
I should finish my dinner too quickly”.

Thanks for this Esther. I have now established this is referred to as an anti-limerick, though I do not recall the term.

I think the old lady may have been related to the better known old man of Dunoon, who is reputed to have eaten his soup with a fork.

Chopsticks. No spoon, no knife, no fork.

I used to assume that the purpose of chopsticks was to encourage people not to overeat, until I saw how they can be used to shovel food down.

Why not re-introduce the “spork” – hence, eliminating the fork and spoon… 🙂

renniemac says:
1 April 2015

OMG! are you guy’s for real, only a non baker would suggest no more use for spoons Doh! you need spoons to measure out ingredients, to stir the icing sugar, and no, a stirring stick would have you up all night trying to get the lumps out of the icing sugar. I have heard of course that if you put all the ingredients into your mouth bit by bit swirl it about as if mouth washing, then spit it back into a bowl then that also works especially if you don’t have those sealable beakers. sic
As For no more spoons, NICE ONE!!

I’m with you on this one. You need table spoons and teaspoons for baking. But I’m sure Adrian has an alternative….

When baking I measure everything by weight, using scales. Bowls and other containers sit on top and you just add the amount needed. With electronic scales you can reset the zero between ingredients making mental arithmetic unnecessary.

I measure liquids by weight too because it saves dirtying a measuring jug. For most liquids used in cooking, one gram (g) corresponds to one millilitre (ml).

Spoons may be of use for mixing but there are better alternatives.

I don’t normally look down on other countries but the Americans use cups as a measure when baking, and they have still to learn about the metric system. That’s a pity for a country that has produced many fine scientists.

Well I have learned today about how it all began. Take a look at ‘todayifoundout.com’. The History of Spoons, Forks & Knives.

Adrian – Now that April Fool’s day has passed it would be interesting to know how much truth there was in your tales of spoon avoidance.

Well today there were no spoons in the Which? kitchen for me to make my tea. I think Adrian had been round removing the spoons. What I did find was that using a fork to pull out your tea bag and squeeze out the flavour was more successful than with a spoon. No joke.

Perhaps you should send him out of the office to continue research on the problem of exploding washing machine doors. We are overdue an update.

Patrick, there’s hardly ever any spoons in the Which? kitchen. However, it’s quite easy to catch the tea bag (hallelujah for pyramid-shaped bags) at one of its corners with your fingers. You’re probably right, though – Adrian’s most likely confiscated all the spoons from the building.

Andrew’s mention of the Which? kitchen reminded me of this delightful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GGBVehqNcY

Not a spoon in sight, but watch out for the names on the appliances. 🙂

That was brilliant. I thought I spotted a wooden spoon in the utensils pot on the counter to the left of the cooker [the only appliance still waiting to explode I think].

The woman could have suffered some heavy bruising with those falls; her husband didn’t exactly rush to her rescue! Thankfully no manufacturers’ reputations were harmed in the making of that video.

I remember watching that video a while ago! Such a funny advert 😀 Well, we’ll ‘spoon’ get over it and add more cutlery to our kitchen area.

Jayne says:
9 June 2015

What a great article, sorry I didn’t see it at the time 🙂 … but 30 minutes after reading down through it all and the comments, I cannot get the tune for “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” out of my head!!!

Your article mentions dissolving sugar. How do you measure and lift your sugar into your cup?
Please don’t say use sachets we are trying to reduce waste.

Jks, take a look at the date this was written……..🙃