There are hundreds of glass spoons for sale on various websites such as Amazon.
Curiously, all such spoons are serving spoons for dispensing food items or for stirring drinks, but glass spoons–the eating-with kind–are quite rare, but why is that?
Why aren’t glass spoons used for eating?
Glass spoons aren’t used for eating because such cutlery is brittle. A diner biting too hard on a glass spoon would break it, possibly leaving shards of glass in his mouth. Therefore, as an eating utensil, glass spoons can easily leave diners at serious risk of permanent injury.
So, absolutely no glass spoon is ever meant for use in eating?
Correct. No ‘place spoon’ is made of glass.
(A place spoon is a general-purpose spoon made for sipping soups or eating desserts.
However, as Victorians–the generation of individuals who first became excessively interested in etiquette–became ever more fastidious, place spoons were replaced with dedicated soup spoons and dessert spoons.)
Types of glass spoons
Nobody makes glass spoons for eating on purpose.
Some people might misuse glass spoons they come across and use them to eat with, but that would never be the manufacturer’s intention.
However, there are many types of glass spoons because of their innate beauty.
It might seem odd, but in a formal setting, it is often quite easy to become flustered when faced with a bewildering array of carefully crafted spoons.
This is especially true when these glass spoons are obviously task-specific.
The following is a list of a few such glass spoons and a description of the use of each one.
After-dinner coffee glass spoon
Used only during informal meals, the after-dinner coffee glass spoon is usually about five inches long.
At this length, the spoon is short enough to resist breakage through bending.
When using such spoons, it is not a great idea to bang the spoon hard against the coffee cup, as this could result in tiny shards of glass entering the coffee.
Chocolate glass spoon
The flavor of hot chocolate is much too strong to follow a multiple-course, rich meal, so hot chocolate isn’t normally offered on formal occasions.
When eating on informal occasions, hot cocoa drinks are served because they are lighter and easier on the stomach than other alternatives such as coffees and espressos.
These glass spoons are used to stir hot chocolate or cocoa when either drink is presented in a large mug or cup.
The glass spoon must be strong enough to thoroughly dissolve the chocolate or cocoa powder and deliver the best possible taste.
Demitasse glass spoon
Demitasse glass spoons are also known as mocha glass spoons. These spoons are designed for stirring strong, small black coffees (demitasse).
They are also used to stir mochas (equal amounts of demitasse and hot chocolate).
The demitasse spoon is about four inches long. At a formal luncheon or formal dinner, use this spoon to stir sugar into your demitasse cup of coffee or hot mocha.
Five o’clock glass spoon
Five o’clock spoons were special spoons in the silver sets of long ago.
Glass five o’clock spoons are featured in glassware versions of silver sets and are therefore even rarer.
Both types of service ware were made for an age when afternoon tea was a regular affair that began around five o’clock in the afternoon.
This spoon is about five-and-a-half inches long.
You will recognize it because it is shorter than a teaspoon but wider than its after-dinner coffee counterpart.
Iced-tea glass spoon
People use iced-tea glass spoons to mix sugar in cold drinks served in tall glasses. For example, long drinks like iced coffee or iced tea.
These particular spoons are the longest in flatware sets. Iced-tea glass spoons are usually about ten inches long, making them delicate, meaning they have to be handled with care.
Iced tea isn’t served on formal occasions, so it isn’t likely that you’d see this spoon at such events.
On the other hand, in the (American) south with its hot, humid summers, a complete collection of kitchenware will normally offer what is called locally ‘iced-beverage’ spoons.
Salt glass spoon
Nowadays, most people only see salt cellars on dining tables, and bowls of salt are very nearly entirely a thing of the past.
However, on the super-rare occasion when you are offered salt in a bowl, this tiny glass spoon, known as a ‘salt spoon’, will no longer discombobulate you.
Some chefs and other kitchen staff use this spoon to put salt into salt cellars.
This makes it even more unlikely that you’ll ever come across one of these in your lifetime.
Glass teaspoons are about six inches long. They are only used in casual dining settings to stir hot drinks.
Even though hosts offer these teaspoons only during informal get-togethers, many people still find them a little kitschy and possibly even tacky.
Not for eating with
If you have paid special attention to all the glass spoons mentioned above, you will have realized that each is either a serving or a stirring spoon of some kind.
No glass spoon in the preceding list is meant to end up in the mouth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why Aren’t Glass Spoons Used for Eating
When I search for ‘glass spoon,’ I am asked if I am over 21. Why?
You are asked if you are over 21 because ‘glass spoon’ is both a popular nickname and an actual brand name for smoking pipe. Such pipes are often used to imbibe narcotics, although some people use them to smoke tobacco.
Why are glass spoons so fragile?
Glass spoons are fragile because the way they are usually manufactured, they end up containing several tiny cracks. These cracks are much too small to be seen by the unaided human eye. When stressed, the tiny cracks grow rapidly, resulting in the spoon breaking or fracturing.
Are glass spoons brittle or fragile?
Glass spoons are both brittle and fragile. ‘Brittle’ and ‘fragile’ refer to objects that break easily. ‘Brittle’ refers to hard objects, whereas ‘fragile’ refers to delicate objects. Glass spoons are both hard and delicate, which is why they are both brittle and fragile.
Afterword: Why aren’t glass spoons used for eating?
Glass spoons aren’t used for eating because they are brittle, meaning they shatter easily.
For example, the wrong amount of force exerted on a glass spoon by a careless diner will result in dozens, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of very dangerous shards of glass in their mouth.
It simply isn’t worth the risk of horrible injury to use a glass spoon for eating.