||Everything You Ever Wanted
to Know About Chopsticks
Explore the history, customs, and manners
surrounding chopsticks with this fun and fascinating educational guide.
Soon you'll be amazing your friends and family with your knowledge and
expertise of all kinds of chopsticks!
What are chopsticks?
Chopsticks are utensils used for eating and cooking in East Asia. In
fact, they are the second-most popular eating tools in the world, after
fingers! They come in many different sizes, shapes, colors, and lengths.
Chopsticks are made from a variety of materials, including wood (disposable
and non-disposable). Bamboo is the most popular material for chopsticks
because it is inexpensive, available, easy to split, resistant to heat,
and has no odor or taste. Other materials used to make chopsticks include
cedar, sandalwood, teak, pine, and bone, and some wealthy people have
chopsticks made from jade, gold, bronze, brass, agate, coral, ivory, and
Where did chopsticks come from?
It is believed that chopsticks were developed in China about 5,000 years
ago! It is likely that people cooked their food in large pots that held
heat for a long time, and impatient eaters would break twigs off trees
to get their food. Some say the philosopher Confucius, who lived in the
5th century B.C., influenced the development of chopsticks with his nonviolent
teachings. He declared that knives not be brought to the dinner table,
because they were associated with war and death. Bronze chopsticks were
excavated from sites in China dating back to the Shang Dynasty, over 3,000
years ago. By this time, Chinese who wanted to save fuel while cooking
chopped and shredded their food into little bite-size pieces so it would
cook faster. They found it easier to eat these morsels of food with a
set of two sticks they called "kuai-za" or "quick ones." The English word
"chopstick" came into being in the 19th century, when English-speaking
traders attempted to say the Chinese word "kuai-za." The word "chop" means
fast--as in the phrase "chop chop!"
Who uses chopsticks?
Chinese may have developed chopsticks, but by 500 A.D., people in Japan,
Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and other places in East Asia were
using them regularly, too! People from Thailand, Indonesia, and most parts
of the Philippines do not normally use chopsticks unless they are of Chinese
descent. In countries such as Thailand, chopsticks may be used to eat
Chinese-style noodle dishes, and a ceramic Chinese spoon may be used for
soups and certain desserts. Of course, many modern homes and almost all
restaurants provide a spoon and fork, and you can find chopsticks in Chinese,
Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese restaurants around the world!
Look for more resources from Asia For Kids
Rookie Chopsticks-for the "Chopstick Challenged" (including a complete
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Chopsticks guide if you order
set of 12).
Nikkei Donburi: A Japanese American Cultural Survival Guide
Multicultural Manners--paperback book
Do's and Taboos Around the World--paperback book