The modern diner's armoury in some ways leaves a lot to be desired. While a knife, a fork and a spoon will certainly do a job, they lack flair - it’s difficult to carve creatively with standard cutlery.
This was not always the case. Over the years, we’ve come up with a host of weird and wonderful tools for tackling seemingly innocuous dinnertime issues. Many of these have been designed to deal with problems that you never knew existed. With much nostalgia for the days of yesteryear, here’s our list of the strangest kitchen items from food history.
1. The Moustache Cup
A crockery accessory no doubt missed by hipsters across the world, the moustache cup was a staple in Victorian dining rooms. An era of unprecedentedly impressive facial hair, hirsute top lips were the fashion of the day among well to-do men. This style presented a number of difficulties when it came to drinking, with ‘taches everywhere becoming clogged with all sorts of substances. The moustache cup provided a handy shield to protect one’s whiskers, ensuring that tea could be drunk without social embarrassment.
2. The Angel Comb
Designed for fragile cakes and pastries, the angel comb looks more like it belongs in a hairdresser's salon than a kitchen. The thin, individual teeth of the the comb are specifically designed for breaking apart delicate foodstuffs made with egg whites. It might look a bit silly, but the design has proved so effective that it continues to be used to this day.
3. The Bon Bon Scoop
One of the joys of old-timey cutlery is the needlessly specific purposes for which they were designed. Few articles encapsulate this better than the bon bon scoop. Born of an era where some people were far too important to pick up food with their hands, these elaborately carved sweet spoons ensured that the great and the good kept their fingers free from unwanted stickiness as they stuffed themselves.
4. The Bacon Fork
Today, one could make a compelling argument for every fork being called a bacon fork.
However, as we have already seen, the Victorians were never ones for missing an opportunity to go niche with their utensils. Alas, apparently this design was too much even for them, and the era of the bacon fork was sadly short lived. It just goes to show that even they had their limits.
5. The Ice Cream Knife
It was not until 1897 that someone patented the design for the first ice cream scooper. Before this point, ice cream was served, presumably with great difficulty, with these large, flat knives. While this design may have made it easier to slice through a particular stubborn hunk of frozen dairy, early ice cream lovers must have been frustrated by endless grappling with cubes of unscoopable dessert.
6. The Saratoga Scooper
Legend has it that the first crisp (or chip if you’re being weird and American) was inadvertently invented in Saratoga Springs by an angry chef attempting to insult a customer who had rejected a plate of french fries. The resultant thinly sliced, deep fried potato disks became a signature dish, and the chip scooper was invented to serve them to customers. It might look like a fancy dustpan, but it helped spread crisps to the world.
These designs show how creative it’s possible to be when coming up with kitchenware. While some creations may have been more successful than others, they all give us a blueprint for bringing some much needed fun back into cooking. Inventors everywhere should take note. Hopefully, one day we too will have something as gloriously pointless as a bacon fork.