Rating: 4 / 5
I recently used this "spork" during a solo effort to traverse the Ross ice shelf in Antarctica, and thought that your readers would be interested to hear about my real-world experiences of using it in the field.
I first came across the curiosity at a garden centre in Surrey, and was instantly attracted to its small size and weight, durable build quality and the promise of an innovative all-in-one design. The "spork" comes in several different colours. I opted for the bright red version so I could easily locate it in the snowy wastes of Antarctica.
As you can imagine, space and weight are at a premium when planning for a one-man walk across hundreds of miles of inhospitable ice in crippling winds and temperatures plunging to minus 40 degrees centigrade. The risks are numerous and all too often deadly. For example, recent historical and ethnographic studies by the British Antarctic Survey have concluded that Scott's doomed 1912 expedition failed primarily because of the "additional weight penalty incurred by carrying largely superfluous cutlery items" .
During the meticulous preparations for my arduous journey, I calculated that the "spork" represented a significant saving of around 13.8g in weight and some 4.4 cubic centimetres volume in my backpack - space and weight that could be put to better use storing potentially life-saving food or fuel.
After setting off from McMurdo Station, the "spork" soon justified its inclusion in my backpack when I sat down for a meal of mild Mexican chilli flavour Super Noodles. The four-tined fork coped admirably with the cooking process, and enabled me to break up the dried noodle block in my mess tin without showing any signs of melting or even softening in the boiling water. Once my tasty meal was ready to eat, the fork facility once again performed well during consumption and enabled me to eat all of the noodles without fuss, despite my not being able to feel my face and wearing several layers of gloves and Gore-tex mittens. A pudding of Muller light layered fruit yogurt was rapidly polished off afterwards using the spoon end of the "spork", again without any difficulty.
Over the following days, subsequent meals of Bacon, BBQ beef, Chow mein, Sweet & sour, and Southern fried chicken flavour Super Noodles were all quickly despatched using the "spork", which by this time had become an indispensable piece of kit.
My only gripe with the otherwise excellent design was the serrated knife edge that runs along one side of the fork end. If not careful, this would often graze the corner of my mouth while eating. This did not cause any pain because I had not felt any sensation on my face for several days due to the intense cold. However, it could prove to be a problem if used in more temperate climates.
Furthermore, my largely noodle-based diet did not really call for the knife functionality in the first place, which made this inconvenience all the more frustrating!
Entering the second week, my "spork" became increasingly difficult to use and its performance was gradually compromised by a flexing and wobbling motion which made eating noodles quite difficult. I initially put this down to the effects of the extreme temperature (which by this time had plunged to minus 70 with wind chill) on the polycarbonate construction.
However, I eventually realised that the problem did not lie with the "spork" construction at all but with a combination of malnutrition, and my right hand which was suffering from the advanced stages of frost-bite. Imagine how silly I felt for doubting the "spork"!
When you are in extreme survival situations you are often called on to make extreme decisions, and I came to the difficult but inevitable conclusion that my index finger was beyond help by this point. My only hope for saving the rest of my right hand was to amputate my finger and halt the spread of the frost-bite.
I was very impressed with the left-handed operation of the "spork", as I used the serrated knife edge to slowly saw off the dead black stump that the index finger on my right hand had become. The knife is deceptively sharp despite its plastic construction, and even coped well upon reaching bone.
After two debilitating weeks and three more fingers, I was eventually rescued by a French research team who happened to be passing by my tent. The medic who accompanied them was particularly impressed by the quality of my amputations, and when I revealed my "spork" it was met with a combination of curiosity and confusion. Imagine my embarrassment though when we got back to their camp, and the French army officer leading their expedition pointed out that despite my insistence to the contrary, I had in fact been using a "Splayd" all this time! .
What I liked
* Takes up a lot less room than a separate knife, fork and spoon
* Cold weather performance
* Self-mutilation capabilities
What I disliked
* Slight grazing to the mouth
* Misleading marketing - it's not a spork, it's a splayed!
 "Sticking the knife in: Cultural attitudes to cutlery in the Scott-Amundsen rivalry" - British Antarctic Survey, 2006