During the age of elegant dining, a period roughly defined as the decade or two before and after the turn of the century in 1900, very specialized objects were created for use and service on fine dining tables. Special pieces of china and sterling silver were crafted for almost anything one could imagine eating – there were spoons for jam, spoons for macaroni, forks for sardines, and even forks for strawberries.
Strawberry forks were usually designed with three long narrow tines, although some two-tined strawberry forks were made. The fork is generally between 4 3/4 to 5 3/4 inches in length, and the tines are long in proportion to the rest of the fork. In the late nineteenth century a new, commercially cultivated breed of strawberry provided a new and flavorful version of a fruit that was previously only available in the wild. Thus, a fruit once relatively uncommon and not always of high quality became more widely available and more plump and delicious. Of course, a Victorian table required a special fork to consume these new delicacies.
The strawberry fork is meant to pierce a fresh strawberry, lift it, and dip it into a condiment. Powdered sugar was popular as a strawberry condiment, as were brown sugar, whipped cream, and sour cream.
Most strawberry forks are crafted from sterling silver. Less formal silverplated sets rarely, if ever, featured strawberry forks. The popularity of strawberry forks faded by the 1930s, as did most of the very food-specific silver flatware, due to the Great Depression. Today, the silver strawberry fork recalls a time of pampered dining, elegant service, and a slower, more leisurely meal enhanced by indulgences like dipping a lush strawberry into a small, individual bowl of whipped cream.
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