fork When forks first came about, in the Middle East around the beginning of the 11th century, there's some evidence that people really only used them for pinning down meat to cut it. But they didn't take the natural step of letting the fork take the food onwards towards their mouths - oh, no. They would leave the cut pieces on the plate and go back to using their fingers.

There's a story that a Byzantine princess introduced a two-tine model in Tuscany, but God-fearing people would never use it: a priest declared that the food God provided should be eaten with the utensils God provided (that's "fingers", to you and me). They did end up catching on in Italy, but in the rest of Europe, they didn't really take off until the 18th century. Even then, they pretty much just used the forks to shake off excess sauce. Then they went back to using their fingers.

Picture 4.pngIt's the greatest deal in the history of history books! Our first hardback, The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through History's Best Bits, hits stores later this month, and we're so excited that we've teamed up with the fine folks at to give you a special deal. Pre-order the book before October 27th and we'll throw in 6 FREE MONTHS of mental_floss magazine! Just click here to get the deal now.

For more about the book, check out our FAQ.