In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we tell the origin story of chopsticks. During a 1993-1995 excavation of Neolithic ruins in North China, archaeologists found sticks made of bone. They believe that these bone sticks are the first versions of chopsticks. Previous bone sticks were considered to be hairpins but these bone sticks were placed close to the hands, alongside other things used by the hands, such as pots and tools, whereas previous bone sticks were more polished and placed near the head at burial sites.
The first chopsticks may have only been used to cooking, but eventually it became the norm to use them to eat as well. This isn't surprising given some context. North China was dry and cold, so people ate foods that were both juicy and hot - foods like stews. They likely ate their stews while the food was still piping hot, so the time between cooking and eating was minimal. Chopsticks were used to stir the food while cooking and then people could have simply used those s