My chopstick collection began innocently enough, just a bag of cheap restaurant-style wooden chopsticks to use and reuse at home, but I had long admired the heights of functional artistry that some chopsticks achieve: the sleek design of metal chopsticks, the colorful surface of lacquered chopsticks, the Zen feeling of carefully smoothed wooden chopsticks. They are the perfect blend of form and function.
I remember spotting these children’s chopsticks in a small toy store. They were in a simple display near the check out counter, and a bright purple camel begged to go home with me. That was eight years ago and I still have that purple camel. As our children started to grow up and feed themselves I began to collect more of these Hog Wild Chopsticks because I wanted to encourage my children to practice using chopsticks. The technique is different from standard chopsticks, just a simple squeeze, which might put off chopstick purists, but I think it’s a good start particularly for children who may have fine motor challenges.
Hog Wild Toys is an independent toy maker, and they have 32 chopstick designs to choose from.
Besides the simplicity of use, one thing I appreciate about the design is how the ends are squared off and taper to an ribbed angle. The ribbed surface is larger than standard chopsticks, which makes it easier to grab bits of food, but I don’t think this makes them any safer than pointed chopsticks. Kids are kids and my boys have poked each other with the chopsticks on a number of occasions, and fortunately we haven’t lost an eye yet. We find the chopsticks easy to clean and they are dishwasher safe according to the company representative I spoke with, but we don’t put them in the dishwasher.
My boys enjoy using them and get excited about choosing their chopsticks for meals. The company website specifies the chopsticks are for ages 8 and up, but I’ve used them with my children as early as 5 years old, so it really depends on your child’s level of manual dexterity and whether you trust him or her with a slightly pointy object at mealtime.
[Disclosure: I purchased this item.]
The bottom line:
Pros: Easy for young children to grip, wide ribbed tips make it easier to pick up food.
Cons: Can break easily if pulled in the wrong direction.
Price: starting at US$2.25 each from Hog Wild, have seen US$1.75 to $3.50. Shop around.
Dimensions: 10 inches/25.5 cm long
Colors: vary, 32 different animal shapes
Company website: www.hogwildtoys.com