You never know what you’ll learn while traveling. I met a fellow southerner on a group outdoors trip. We were in a state park cabin and I asked for the iced tea spoon. He said “What’s that?” I laughed and said, “I thought you said you were a southerner.” See, in the south we are known for heavily sweetening our tea and serving it in a tall glass with ice and a long spoon to stir the sugar. We joked about WW II spies and the ways they had, like baseball questions, to detect whether or not a person was indeed from where they said they were. We laughed and I admitted that if we were going by some other normal criteria, like who won the World Series or anything about the latest season of American Idol, or the way I actually drink my tea or eat my breakfast that I would fail miserably and be detected as an impostor, rather than the native that I am.
I started to wonder though, about the spoon and how unusual the knowledge had come to be. I have an interest in several dying arts, I feel a little nostalgic when I hear colloquialisms that I haven’t heard for years and I wonder about lost knowledge, how it’s lost, how it gets preserved. So, I asked on several other trips where I was in a kitchen or dining setting. “What’s this?” while holding an iced tea spoon in my hand. I learned, by my random, yet still unscientifically designed survey, (not to be confused with the equally unscientific “informal poll”) that while the iced tea spoon is still in many kitchen drawers, and while it seems handy for a tall drink of sugar, just exactly what you were originally meant to do with it is indeed becoming uncommon knowledge. One answer, “I thought it was an ice cream spoon.” seemed easy enough to guess. “Iced Tea” and “Ice Cream” sound similar.
Now I wonder. Is this lost knowledge because we get our sweet tea in fast food restaurants and gallon jugs from the super market or is it because we are drinking un-sweet tea, or maybe some other reason? So please let me know. Are you from the south? Did you know what an iced tea spoon was? Do you use it for iced tea? And, if you drink sweetened tea, do you make your own?