That Extra Bit Of Wood On Your Chopsticks Is There For A Very Good Reason

Feb 10, 2016

Chopsticks have been around in East Asia for several thousand years, and today they’re fairly well-recognized globally too. The earliest chopsticks are thought to have originated in China some 4,000-6,000 years ago, but at this time they were used largely as cooking utensils. In fact, Japanese chefs still use foot-long chopsticks known as "saibashi" to stir and handle food, especially when deep frying. 

Around 200 B.C., chopsticks began to make their way to the table. It's not certain why this shift occurred, but there are several theories such as food being chopped smaller by cooks due to scarcity (bite-sized food is perfect for chopsticks), as well as potential religious factors (Confucianism kinda frowns upon knives at the table). In any case, they were soon the dominant tableware throughout the Far East.

Today, thanks to the global popularity of Chinese and Japanese food (with Korean, Thai and Vietnamese also on the rise), chopsticks are readily available in most of the world. As popular as they are though, you'd think we'd know more about them! It turns out, chopsticks have been hiding a clever design feature right under our noses all this time ...

You may have already heard about how Chinese takeout boxes can become plates:


If you hadn’t heard of it, that little gem’s on the house.

But what about the secrets of the humble chopstick?


Chopsticks have been around for thousands of years, and are almost ubiquitous throughout East Asia. Just in case you're not familiar with them, here's a primer on using them: 


You're welcome, I do it because I love you. Now buy me sushi sometime, yeah?


You can use chopsticks to eat just about anything, even rice! 


In the regions where chopsticks are used, they eat a shorter grain rice that tends to be stickier and starchier after cooking than the long grain rice we're used to eating in the West. This sticky rice tends to clump together, which makes it really easy to pick up with chopsticks.

Once you get the hang of it, chopsticks are actually a very efficient way to eat. Unfortunately, there's one downside to them:


Et tu, chopsticks?

If you've got some sweet origami skills, you can turn the wrapper from your chopsticks into a little stand to keep your sticks and table separated. Sadly, I have no such skills.

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Recently, however, Twitter user bortofdarkness tweeted this stunning revelation, which is now going viral.



That's right. The extra bit of wood is there to be broken away and used as a stand! MIND. BLOWN.


The Twitterverse, always appreciative of a good thing, was similarly impressed.


Well, now you know. Stop being an embarrassment to eating - go forth and be a Chopstick Champion.

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