Wednesday, September 18, 2019


After writing the post about the pickle caster, I went to the Benton County Historical Museum’s data base to see if we had any pickle, asparagus or other unusual forks.  I came across the object below, which I had never seen before. It is knork—a combination knife and fork.
The idea of combining the two is credited to British naval hero, Horatio Nelson, who lost his arm in battle in 1798.  The “Nelson fork” was a regular dinner fork with a separate steel blade screwed into place along the side of the fork.  It made eating so much easier for amputees that others asked for one.  The disadvantage of the “Nelson Fork” is that the sharp knife blade entered the mouth.

In 1856, George Washington Bean designed a different version which better separated the knife part from the fork part that one would eat from. The museum’s knork follows his design which was timely.  During the Civil War, amputations were a common way of dealing with battlefield injuries, with an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 amputations performed on Union soldiers. Several companies produced knorks to meet this demand for a utensil to make it easier for an amputee to eat.

More recently, Kansan Mark Miller, frustrated with trying to cut a slice of pizza neatly, designed a new version of the knork which is shaped like a regular fork but varies in thickness along the edge for leverage and has a beveled edge to better cut with a rocking motion.
So the same idea and need generated three different designs. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon 

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