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It's easy to think of something like the fork as a finished design. After all, the little metal claw many of us poke our chow with is a centuries-honed technology. It allows us to consume a fine steak without going all caveman on it just as easily as it coils up spools of spaghetti.
But why doesn't one fork rule them all? Why do many civilized place settings call for a plethora of specialized pokers? We've invented everything from asparagus forks to toasting forks, yet we still have to set them aside and grab a spoon or knife when the dish demands it. Even the mighty spork fails us when it comes to the likes of corn on the cob. It just sits there, worthless, as we either stab in some corn holders or go for it barehanded.
Plus, as our palates grow to encompass an entire world of culinary traditions, we find ourselves reaching just as often for a pair of wooden chopsticks or, say, in the case of Ethiopian recipes, spongy bread with which to grip our food. How can modern utensil design benefit from these varied modes of food manipulation?
So what's your big idea for the forks of tomorrow? Whether you have blueprints and a patent or just a back-of-the-napkin idea and a glint in your eye, we'd love to hear it. Send your designs for a better fork to BuildaBetter@HowStuffWorks.com with the subject line "Build a Better Fork." We're looking for one of the following: 1) an article with 500 words or fewer describing your proposed innovation or 2) an image gallery with 5-10 pictures of something you've actually built or 3) a detailed illustration of your amazing utensil.
Hurry. You only have until July 22, 2011, to do so. After that, we're closing the drawer on your shiny ideas for cutlery perfection and publishing our five favorite entries. Winners will receive some free swag and see their fork innovations published on our site.
What are you waiting for? Fork those ideas over! And keep them coming. We're looking to make lots of things better over the next few months, not just forks.
Send us your ideas at BuildaBetter@HowStuffWorks.com.