As such, this invention is the descendant of the runcible spoon mentioned in the Edward Lear poem The Owl and the Pussycat, re-moulded by the science of modern materials. The word spork is, of course, a portmanteau word on spoon and fork. The word foon has also been spotted; according to some, a foon is made from a plastic spork by pressing the bowl until it turns inside out.
Most people's first encounter with the spork comes in a number of fast food restaurants. The spork is particularly associated with a number of Yum! Brands franchises. Sporks are frequently found at these fast food establishments:titanium sporks, which unlike the plastic variety are meant to be cleaned and reused. Metal sporks are also sometimes called grapefruit spoons, and used on that fruit, whose successful total consumption requires both a slurping and a stabbing tool. Others give the name "grapefruit spoon" to a spoon that has been given a serrated edge like a knife around part of its lip.
According to a rumor, the spork was invented in the 1940s by the United States Army, which introduced them to occupied Japan. It was hoped that the use of the spork would wean the people there from the use of chopsticks. This pointless hope did not come true; yet the spork that was spurned by the Japanese found a home in the United States of America, where its versatility and disposability were well adapted to the cuisine of the United States.
The truth of the rumour about sporks in occupied Japan is also subject to serious question; according to the records of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a patent was issued for a "combination spoon, fork, and knife" to the Van Brode Milling Company of Clinton, Massachusetts on August 11, 1970. However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word spork appears in the 1909 supplement to the Century Dictionary. The Century Dictionary ascribes it only to "trade use," and defines spork as "a 'portmanteau-word' applied to a long, slender spoon having at the end of the bowl projections resembling the tines of a fork." This may be evidence of prior art; it would appear that few significant changes have been made in the design of the spork from 1909 to the present.
A variation of the spork is the splade, which in addition to the overall spoon shape, and fork tines, has a somewhat sharp edge or blade on one or both sides.