Forks, Knives, and Spoons

I wonder how many battles have been fought stemming from a fundamental difference in opinion on how to store cutlery.

The standard cutlery drawer usually has three equally sized compartments, for knives, forks, and spoons. On the right there is a bigger compartment for peelers and cooking knives, while teaspoons reside in the small compartment at the front.

The question then is how to assign which utensil to which compartment.

Mathematically, there are n!, or six possible permutations. These are

Forks   Knives  Spoons
Forks   Spoons  Knives
Knives  Forks   Spoons
Knives  Spoons  Forks
Spoons  Forks   Knives
Spoons  Knives  Forks

However, in the absence of an international standard, western society seems to be undecided between one of two generally agreed on possibilities.

The first, the KFS philosophy, follows the physical evolutionary properties of each utensil. We start from the left, with the knife, the most simple and straight object,  following the western left-to-right culture. As we head to the right, the utensils gradually evolve into a spoon, via the middle link, the fork.

This appeals to people with OCD, as every object in their draw is ordered based on a visually appealing pattern.

The second, methodology, however is much more practical. And it is what I subscribe to.

This is the FKS methodology.

The principals behind this are remarkably simple.  In western cultures, forks go on the left of the plate, and knives on the right. Hence, when taking them out of the drawer in that same order, less energy for cranial processing  is used for the initial retrieve and final set.

Spoons remain right out, as they are an outlier and are only ever used in isolation.

The FKS methodology also has the benefit of being in lexicographical order in most languages.

Now, which methodology is correct depends on your preference for aesthetics or practicality. However if a household has two chiefs one subscribing to KFS, and the other to FKS, trouble ensues.

I recently took it upon myself to correct the glitch in our storage algorithm. Each time I empty the dishwasher I put the cutlery back in its rightful place. Unfortunately Beau will do the same. So now, not only do the knives usually reside in the wrong compartment, but whenever I open the draw, I can never be sure whether to find them on the left or in the middle. We have gone from having an ordered, but incorrect cutlery storage system, to one that it is almost random.

External mediation may be required*.

*But only if the mediator subscribes to the correct philosophy

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5 Responses to Forks, Knives, and Spoons

  1. David says:

    I agree with putting them in the same order as on the table, but I thought the spoon went to the left of the knife? Mine are in FSK order. Looking at Wikipedia though, I think my layout may be “unique”.

  2. David says:

    At least one other person agrees with my table layout…

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081127054721AAtrnGR

  3. michelle says:

    There’s a wikipedia article?

  4. Pingback: Spknorks » Ramblings from Eden Terrace

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