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Tiki Central Forums » » Collecting Tiki » » explain over-sized tiki wooden forks and spoons?
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explain over-sized tiki wooden forks and spoons?
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 23, 2003
Posts: 825
From: KS/MO
Posted: 2004-01-15 02:00 am   Permalink

Ever since my friends learned that I'm interested in tiki mugs and such, they've been calling me from flea markets to tell me about over-sized wooden forks and spoons with tiki gods carved on the handles.

While I appreciate their efforts, so far I've seen none that I am interested in; in fact, I just don't get the idea.

What is the origin of these things? Do they have any roots in any Polynesian culture? Are they a sculpted prayer to the gods that we always have food? Did people in the 1950's have REALLY big salads to toss? Do ancient astronauts want us to grow large with food? Was this an less-successful marketing attempt that found fruition in collectors' plates? Or was the mid-20th century tiki craze so prosperous for manufacturers that they came up with something food-prep related for people to hang on kitchen walls?

Oh, ye experienced tikiphiles, whats the deal?

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Sabu The Coconut Boy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2804
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2004-01-15 03:13 am   Permalink

Hiya Jackalope,

This might help you:


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8FT Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 30, 2003
Posts: 1406
From: Kansas City, MO
Posted: 2004-01-15 07:09 am   Permalink

I know what you mean. Those seem to be the most common thing you can find. They were probably carved at a rate of 2 utensils per minute because the tiki images are often so obscure that it is more like playing a Where's Waldo? game as you look for the tikis. The only good use I've ever seen is the TC member who sawed off the bowl and tines and just used the handles to make door pulls for his tiki building. Too bad they didn't carve 3 foot tikis instead of the dumb fork & spoon. Maybe they needed to show that the islands were a major lumber exporter or something?

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Unkle John
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 22, 2003
Posts: 1217
From: Middle-of-the-Ocean, TX
Posted: 2004-01-15 07:24 am   Permalink

I have about a dozen of those damn things.

with alittle effort you can cut the less desireable ones up and use them as cabinet handles or something.

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Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 3070
From: Columbus, Ohiya
Posted: 2004-01-15 07:29 am   Permalink

i just inherited an african version of tiki fork and spoon from my grandfather. i'm not quite sure what to do with it - they are very intersting objects in ebony or ebonized wood - almost stone-like in texture and feel (about 14 inches long) but they probably won't fit in with the tiki bar once it's built.

i wonder if the african versions followed the u.s. 70's trend or whether they had an indigenous origin.


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2002
Posts: 1500
From: Huntington Beach, California
Posted: 2004-01-15 08:31 am   Permalink

The two explanations that I received from two different Filipino/Chinese families were:

1) The symbolism means having good health and a prosperous family. The oversizing enhances that symbolism. The spoon and fork were symbols of good health since "food" would be the source for a healthy body (insert hamburger & fries jokes here). They also joked saying that Americans who display their "miniature spoon" collection would bring inauspicious fortune (from the small size of the spoons).

2) The symbolism means family strength since the time that the family is actually gathered together is at meal time. Again, the oversizing is to emphasize that strength for all that visit the home to see.

In addition, I was told that it didn't matter if the size of your family was 1 or 10 (in the home), the symbolism of "family" was anyone who joined you in your dining area. Also, the spoon and fork was to be displayed near the dining table, traditionally the gathering place of the family.

Hope this helps.


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11594
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2004-01-15 12:41 pm   Permalink

Wow SCD, this seems like the first reasonable explanation of this irksome phenomenon.

I have seen giant forks and spoons with more pacific asian figures on them, so those must have been made traditionally, for home use there, and since so many Phillipine carvers made tourist Tikis for Hawaii, they must have had the idea to apply them to their traditional implements and sell them as a novelty item, and it became a big hit. Talk about multi-culturalism!
I wonder what "Tourist mythology" some sellers came up with, though.

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Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 3070
From: Columbus, Ohiya
Posted: 2004-01-15 12:45 pm   Permalink

i feel a new book coming on... philipine carvers... oh yeh


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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: May 18, 2002
Posts: 524
From: las vegas
Posted: 2004-01-15 6:10 pm   Permalink

How bout big lettuce?

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3293
From: Victoria, BC
Posted: 2004-01-15 9:21 pm   Permalink

Oh man, there's like 3 sets of these things at Value Village at any given time.

I once saw a really nice set, but my fiance won't let them in the house. Somethng about growing up with a pair.

If I remember correctly, they make spiffy double door handles!


Great Minds Drink Alike

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 03, 2002
Posts: 488
From: The fly-over states
Posted: 2004-01-16 12:02 am   Permalink

Here I have to take exception. I'm sorry, but I won't stand idly by while people disparage this thrift store Tiki collector staple. Along with a Tiki Leilani, a Disney frosted glass goblet, and an ill-fitting old aloha shirt, the oversize Tiki spoon and fork is a foundation piece for a dyed-in-the-wool, real-world Tiki collector. OK, so there is much better stuff out there; NO Tiki collection is complete without a set. It's like a rite of passage. Every dedicated collector MUST own at least one set. If you have to, make it your mission to find the best set you can. Amy and I have at least three pair. OK, there. I admitted it. Believe it or not, there are finely crafted sets out there; and even more unbelievable, they have become more scarce in recent years. It used to be that you would be hard pressed to find a thrift WITHOUT a pair– and they could not give them away. Now when they do have them, they are asking as much as $5 for them! I know somebody who used to cut them up for their Tiki "projects" (door pulls, etc.) and I used to wince. I don't think one should ever take vintage Tiki for granted. Just like the Herb Albert LP "Whipped Cream and Other Delights". We can all have a chuckle at them, but what happens when the day comes and they are no longer there? Dare I say, we will have lost a small part of our soul.


[ This Message was edited by: boutiki on 2004-01-16 00:04 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 559
From: Portland, OR
Posted: 2004-01-16 12:04 pm   Permalink

Well said! If you can find a decent set of these, they make a nice, cheap addition to your bar, and they can take up the space that will someday feature that elusive Witco piece or the Oceanic Arts 6' Lono you plan to buy when your rich uncle dies. I have 3 sets myself, along with a lonely mismatched spoon that I hope to convert into a giant tiki "Spork" someday, just for laughs. I've seen these in commercial tiki bars and home bars alike. Portland's Jasmine Tree has 2 sets that I've notice, and Alibi has a set as well. Don't dis the GS&F - they are the mayo of the tiki world.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 02, 2004
Posts: 873
From: Port Angeles, Wa
Posted: 2004-01-16 1:59 pm   Permalink

Years ago at a vintage store someone was trying to sell a knife version of the giant tiki spoon and fork combo carrying on how rare it was to find a complete cutlery set. I refused but hope the regret won't follow me to the grave. With the whole set you could invite one of those giant Moai people over for dinner.

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Official Mixologist

Joined: Mar 29, 2002
Posts: 3059
From: http://www.smugglerscovesf.com
Posted: 2004-01-16 2:28 pm   Permalink

I have three pair as well, and I like them. Although I can't explain why. My nicest and largest were found in a thrift shop in Alturas, CA if you can believe that. Bet you can't even find that on a map.

You should see mrsmiley's: He has a pair that are at least six feet long!

That wasn't meant to sound dirty. Really.

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Tiki Bird
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 25, 2003
Posts: 850
From: Cerritos, Ca.
Posted: 2004-01-19 12:36 pm   Permalink

My father, who was in the Navy in the 60s picked up my set in Japan.

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