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Spoons are used to sip, stir, and sup. The following fourteen types are discussed below in order of descending size.
- Iced-Beverage Spoon;
- Oval Soup Spoon;
- Dessert Spoon;
- Place Spoon;
- Cream Soup Spoon;
- Five O'Clock Spoon;
- Ice-Cream Spoon;
- Citrus Spoon;
- Bouillon Spoon;
- After-Dinner Coffee Spoon;
- Chocolate Spoon;
- Demitasse Spoon; and
- Salt Spoon.
The iced-beverage spoon, also known as an iced-tea spoon, is used to stir sugar in cold beverages served in a tall glass, such as iced tea or iced coffee.
The iced-beverage spoon is the longest spoon in a set of flatware, a utensil made with a small bowl and a long handle, approximately 7 to 10 inches in length.
- It is used only for informal dining. At formal affairs, water, wine, and demitasse are served, and iced-beverage spoons are not needed.
- In the American south, a region known for hot humid weather, a full set of flatware is often sold with iced-beverage spoons rather than cream soup spoons.
The oval soup spoon is made to eat soup, namely, soup made with particles of solid food, such as meat, vegetables, grains, and pasta.
The oval soup spoon is similar in size and shape to a tablespoon, only the bowl is a little smaller and tapers slightly to a tip and the handle is shorter. The overall length of the oval soup spoon varies from approximately 5¾ to 8¼ inches.
The oval soup spoon is used differently in formal and informal dining.
- At a formal dinner, soup is served in a soup plate and the oval soup spoon is the only spoon laid on the table.
- At an informal meal, the oval soup spoon is used to eat any food presented in a large, shallow soup bowl, such as chili, stew, ravioli, and dessert.
The dessert spoon lies midway in length between the tablespoon and teaspoon, approximately 7 to 7¼ inches long.
The shape of the bowl is oval and holds approximately two teaspoons of food, a size that affords a generous bite.
The dessert spoon is used in formal and informal dining.
The place spoon is an all-purpose spoon slightly larger than a teaspoon but smaller than a tablespoon, a utensil used originally to sip cream soup and eat dessert.
The shape of the bowl is oval, and the length is approximately 6½ to 7½ inches.
The cream soup spoon is approximately 6 inches long.
It is made with a round bowl to fit the shape of the cream soup bowl.
To reach into the depth of the cream soup bowl, the cream soup spoon is made with a longer handle than a teaspoon.
Because the bowl of the cream soup spoon is too wide to fit the mouth, pureed soup is sipped from the side of the spoon.
At a formal dinner the cream soup spoon is not used, because cream soup is considered too rich and heavy to start a multi-course meal. However, at a meal with a simpler menu, namely, a formal luncheon and all informal meals, often a first course of cream soup is served, sipped from the side of the cream soup spoon.
The average teaspoon measures approximately 5½ to 6¼ inches in length.
The teaspoon is used only in informal dining to stir hot beverages, sip soup, and eat solid food, and it is the wise host who collects extras.
The five o'clock spoon is a specialized spoon found in older sets of silver.
Made for an era when afternoon tea was taken at five o'clock, the spoon is approximately 5 ¼ to 5 ½ inches long.
Although the five o'clock teaspoon is slightly shorter than a teaspoon, it is a little larger than an after-dinner coffee spoon.
Today, those lucky enough to own five o'clock spoons find the size ideal as an extra teaspoon and as a utensil to feed young children.
The ice-cream spoon, also known as an ice-cream scoop looks like a miniature shovel.
It is approximately 5 inches in length and made with a wide shallow bowl to afford a generous bite.
The ice-cream spoon is used at informal meals only to eat frozen dessert served on a plate, such as ice-cream roll.
In formal dining, two dessert utensils are presented and the ice-cream spoon is not used.
The citrus spoon, also known as a grapefruit spoon, orange spoon, and fruit spoon features an elongated bowl and a pointed tip, a shape used to eat segmented fruit, such as a grapefruit or an orange.
The overall length is approximately 5½ to 6½ inches.
The citrus spoon is made with a plain or serrated edge.
- The plain edge is used to eat fruit with presectioned segments, such as a grapefruit half.
- The serrated edge is used to eat citrus fruit with segments still attached.
The bouillon spoon looks like a cream soup spoon, only the bowl is smaller and the handle is shorter; it is approximately 5 to 5 ½ inches long.
The bouillon spoon is used at light meals, such as formal and informal luncheons, when clear or jellied soup is served as a first course. However, at a multi-course dinner, notably a formal dinner, bouillon is considered too light to start a meal where numerous wines are served, and a bouillon spoon is not used. Furthermore, at an informal dinner composed of a few hearty courses, bouillon is not normally served because the broth is not substantial enough to begin the simple menu.
The after-dinner coffee spoon is approximately 4½ to 5 inches long, a length that balances the after-dinner coffee cup.
It is used only for informal dining. At a multi-course meal, notably, an informal dinner or luncheon, a small cup of strong coffee is served after the meal to aid digestion, and after-dinner coffee spoons are used.
Because the flavor of hot chocolate is too rich to follow a multi-course meal, the drink is not served at formal affairs. At informal meals, such as breakfast, cocoa is served, a thinner beverage presented in a large cup or mug, and a teaspoon is used to stir it. Generally speaking, the only time a chocolate spoon is used today is when hot chocolate is served in a small chocolate cup, and any small spoon will do, such as an after-dinner coffee spoon or a demitasse spoon.
The demitasse spoon, also known as a mocha spoon (to stir coffee made with an equal amount of hot chocolate), is approximately 3¾ to 4½ inches long, in proportion with the demitasse cup and saucer used in formal dining. At a formal dinner or formal luncheon, coffee is served in a demitasse cup, and a demitasse spoon is used if sugar is added.
Today salt cellars are reserved almost totally for formal dinners or elegant informal affairs, but when provided, a salt spoon is placed in a salt cellar before and after use.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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