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Splayd: a utensil perfected, a nation unified

Splayds verb

The last convict was transported to Australia in chains in 1853, but it was not until 1946, with the invention by a wiley Sydney cafe owner of this little beauty, the Splayd, that Aussies finally threw off the shackles of British imperialism.

Not for William ‘Splayd’ McArthur the stodgy vagaries of British table manners. He didn’t care about working from the outside in, or knowing an escargot pricker from a quail egg defragger, or generally being a condescending Pommy dropkick – instead, what McArthur was after was an all-in-one, plate-to-mouth food transporter. No fuss no muss.

The Splayd is Australia’s rejoinder to the lesser, American Spork, patented almost a century before but missing the crucial blade element of the Splayd. As this handy pie chart shows, what the Splayd approaches is a grand unifying theory of cutlery. McArthur’s single-handed fork, spoon and cutting blade is the kitchen equivalent of Tolkien’s ring: one utensil to rule them all.

If humanity really did tend towards self-improvement, surely the world’s cutlery drawers would by now be single compartment affairs, all stuffed to the brim with these package deal utensils. Alas, we have yet to make this evolutionary leap. However, McArthur managed to sell the idea to a tableware manufacturer in 1960 and the Splayd found its niche as a popular wedding gift, becoming the toast of buffet lunches and barbecues across sixties Australia.