Have We Been Using Chopsticks Incorrectly All This Time?

By Time Out Tokyo
March 12,2016
Time Out Tokyo

Time Out Tokyo is the Tokyo edition of Time Out, a London-based global media group covering 108 cities in 39 countries, from New York to Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.

(Photo by kyokyo/PIXTA)

You know how to use chopsticks, right? (Yes, of course, you answer.) Including the disposable ones? (Why, is there a difference, you ask). Think again. The internet has been stumbling over itself in shock by one Twitter user’s realisation that the top might actually be used as a chopstick rest (Her post got so much attention that she's since switched her account to private – apparently a few hundred thousand shares proved to be a bit too intense.)

Break off the wide, flattened bit and proceed to place it on your eating surface as a hashioki, rather than breaking the chopsticks apart from there. It sounds ingenious, and many were perplexed – is this really what that bit was originally designed for? Have we been fools for all these years, or even decades?

Turns out, we haven’t. The chopsticks shown above are actually a prototype conjured up by a Hong Kong-based designer team known as Orange Terry, the brainchild of Terry Law and Minnie Kong. They have dubbed the recent Twitter craze a 'beautiful mistake', and told us they would like to set the record straight.

This article originally appeared on Time Out Tokyo

The design was a submission for the MUJI Award competition in 2014, which centred around the theme of 'Long Lasting Design for Living'. Inspiration came from the simple Japanese toothpick design: here, the top end can be broken off to create a small rest, so that the (used) toothpick won’t have to touch the surface, thereby encouraging you to use it again – or just to indicate that it’s been used, apparently (No, we did not know this either. This might just be the real mind = blown.)

'Disposable' and 'long lasting' may seem slightly at odds, but Orange Terry had another question in mind while designing: why don't we eat fast food slowly? In their own words:

'Disposable chopsticks provide us with two kinds of convenience: "Eat Immediately" and "Dump Immediately". We don't think disposable chopsticks should be used for fast eating alone, so we designed this little "break" for the user, to provide a little comma in their meal. From a production point of view, we didn't want to make any major changes in the existing process. That's why we designed the gap on the bamboo chopsticks rather than creating a completely new design.'

Ingenious indeed. Sadly, the design didn't make the final cut, but it’s definitely created a following of its own, with many now hoping MUJI may reconsider and take these revolutionary disposables into production after all. In short, mystery solved – and for those who are still convinced, check out this guy’s effort to use ‘regular’ disposable chopsticks in this way…

(Written by Kirsty Bouwers/Time Out Tokyo)

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