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Struggling With Change? Take a Lesson From These Weird Little Forks

Entrepeneur 14 Sep 2020 03:00
Struggling With Change? Take a Lesson From These Weird Little Forks
Image credit: REDA&CO | Getty Images
6 min read

If you attended a dinner party in the mid-1800s, you might have eaten each food with a different fork. There were forks designed specifically to eat sardines with. There were lettuce forksMacaroni forks. Pickle forks. Cherry forks. For dessert, you’d have used a pastry fork. (Click to see; they're not pictured above.) And there were many more.

Why? In truth, it had nothing to do with the food — and everything to do with business.

These forks are a lesson in entrepreneurship. They’re an insight into how smart companies can adapt to changing times, by understanding exactly what their customer wants. The silverware companies of the 1800s knew that, oftentimes, customers’ top priority isn’t the product itself. It’s how a product makes them feel.

To understand what happened with forks, you first need to know where forks came from.

The Strange History of Forks

The fork may be common today, but it’s a relatively new addition to our table. For most of the past two millenniums, the attitude toward forks went like this: “God has given us our hands. God gives us food. Our hands are worthy of touching that food,” recounts Darra Goldstein, a food historian and cookbook writer, author most recently of Beyond the North Wind. “And you introduce something that is foreign and alien and metal that distances from the God-given food — and that is bad.”

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GoldsteinDarra GoldsteinBeyond the North WindMaria ArgyropoulinaByzantium
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