A spork is a hybrid form of cutlery taking the form of a spoon-like shallow scoop with three or four fork tines.
Spork-like utensils,have been manufactured since the late 19th century; patents for spork-like designs date back to at least 1874, and the word “spork” was registered as a trademark in the US and the UK decades later. They are used by fast food restaurants, schools, prisons, the military, and backpackers.
A combined spoon, fork, and knife closely resembling the modern spork was invented by Samuel W. Francis and issued US Patent 147,119 in February 1874.
The word spork originated in the early 20th century to describe such devices. According to a December 20, 1952 New York Times article, Hyde W. Ballard of Westtown, Pennsylvania filed an application to register “Spork” as a trademark for a combination spoon and fork made of stainless steel, although there is no longer any record of this application at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The Van Brode Milling Company subsequently registered SPORK for a combination plastic spoon, fork and knife at the USPTO on October 27, 1970, but abandoned the registration several years later. The word Spork accompanied by a stylised design is registered in the US in relation to hand tools.
Materials such as stainless steel, silver, aluminum, titanium, and polycarbonate plastic have been used in spork manufacture. Plastic sporks are common in prisons in the United States because they are difficult to form into weapons. Prepackaged meals may come with a disposable plastic spork. Sporks are also frequently used by backpackers and other outdoors enthusiast as they are a light weight and space saving alternative to carrying both a fork and spoon.