Of all the dining utensils we use on an everyday basis, the fork is by far the newest and historically most controversial, so as we introduce the fork with a thumb, please stay calm.
In the year 1004 A.D., when the Greek niece of a Byzantine emperor used a golden fork at her wedding, the act was shunned as an insult to God who had already given us a natural fork - our hands. God, they thought, would be very angry if he didn't see you palming your steak. Upon her untimely death two years later, the local cardinal pointed to her fork usage as one of the reasons for her early demise: "Nor did she deign to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth. . . . this woman's vanity was hateful to Almighty God; and so, unmistakably, did He take his revenge."
But it seems like a thousand years later, the fork has lost its edge. We're used to it, it's an accepted form of everyday life. It doesn't thrill us like it did 1,000 years ago.
Which is why it might just be the perfect time for a radical revision to this household object. Japanese designer Keisuke Tsubakimoto recently won second place in a design competition for giving the fork a thumb. He was unhappy with its stalled evolution and plain reputation, sitting next to the spoon and butter knife, not making a peep. He set out to improve the performance of the traditional four pronged fork by giving it a fifth digit.
Tsubakimoto added a squat 5th tine, less than half the length of the other four, and raised it like the thumb on your finger. He also crafted the fork from wood, which is important because if you aren't careful, you might do what Bill did — stab yourself in the mouth a half dozen times when he bent a metal fork to simulate this new evolutionary fork.