British table manners ‘under threat’ by death of the soup spoon

Sales of soup spoons have slumped in favour of dessert spoons, with many people reporting that they can no longer tell the difference between the two, according to homeware chain Homebase.

British table manners 'under threat' by death of the soup spoon

Homebase cutlery buyer Emma Jordan said: “Downton Abbey would never have employed even the lowliest scullery maid who couldn’t tell the difference between a soup spoon and a dessert spoon. It’s a sign of how formal dining is playing a much smaller role in modern culture.
Choosing the right cutlery for each meal used to be seen as an essential part of British life. Now, for millions of people all over the country, it seems to be regarded as irrelevant.”

The trend away from soup spoons was discovered when researchers examined which sets of cutlery customers bought at Homebase when setting up home.

The retailer’s figures show that 70% of all cutlery sales are for sets which don’t contain soup spoons. These feature a small, deep, round, mini ladle-like shape, ideally suited to hold soup from bowl to mouth. In comparison, a dessert spoon is oval in shape, with a sharp edge for cutting through pies and puddings. Using it to eat soup means that liquid can quite easily spill from the area where the spoon narrows to form a point.

Emma Jordan added: “We believe the trend is occurring because of the cost of living rather than a loss of etiquette. With property prices and rents at an all time high, people setting up home together for the first time are usually on very tight budgets. Every penny counts, and so naturally, many young couples are buying just the bare essentials to turn a house into a home.

“Soup spoons are seen as a luxury which they can do without for the time being. Instead, the dessert spoon is now regarded as a multi-purpose replacement. However, there’s no doubt that many young people no longer know the difference between the two. For them all spoons are alike, varying only in size rather than function.”

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