Now there is something to chew on. What common household item do you hold in your hands and put in your mouth 50 times a day? It’s more than your toothbrush.

I haven’t paid much attention to cutlery since I bought it 30 years ago. He just lay in the box, waiting for the food to go into my mouth, and I appreciate it. But recently I discovered that I have half as many forks and spoons as knives. What happened?

“The forks ran away with the spoons!” I cried to Greg Owens, co-owner of Sherrill Manufacturing, the last remaining cutlery manufacturer in the United States.

Owens has heard it before. “Forks and spoons are often lost in trash cans, lunch bags, on picnics and camping trips,” he said, and then moved on to a little history.

In 2005, Oneida Limited, one of the world’s leading cutlery manufacturers, closed its US factory that had been making silverware since 1860 (think Abraham Lincoln) and moved production overseas.

“Oneida could buy prefabricated cutlery made in China for less than metal to make their products in the US, so they left,” Owens said.

Owens and his partner Matthew Roberts took over production, continued to hire many workers, and named the new operation Sherrill Manufacturing after the New York city where it is based. A few years later, they began making Liberty Tabletop cutlery, which is now sold in 33 different models directly to consumers online.

Readers may remember last week’s column about household items not to buy online featured cutlery. You must see and feel these ramifications before committing. You won’t get objections from Owens, who encourages customers to order samples. But online sales allow Liberty to compete with imports. “We can bypass retail stores, which often take up to 70 percent of profits,” he said.

Considering that 90 percent of cutlery sold in America today comes from China, Owens proudly says, “We are 100 percent American. We use hydropower from Niagara Falls, we get the metal from Pittsburgh so we know it’s up to US quality standards, not mystery metal, and we’re giving jobs to Americans.”

But back to me. I still had a major problem with the fork and spoon. I checked online with Unlimited Replacements, which sells single items in china, crystal and silverware. Unsuccessfully. I found the brand of my old cutlery, but not the style.

Which meant only one thing: new cutlery. When I started buying something I hadn’t bought in decades, I decided I had better know what I should be looking for. Here is what I found does the reduction:

Material: The key quality to look for in stainless steel cutlery is the metal content. The reverse side is usually stamped with the words 18/10, 18/8 or 18/0. This ratio represents the amount of chromium to nickel in the metal alloy. Nickel (second number) adds shine and durability to cookware and reduces susceptibility to pitting, rust and stains. Since nickel is expensive, many manufacturers save money. Most imports today are 18/0, said Owens, whose company only makes 18/10 cutlery.

Production quality: Another way to evaluate cutlery is by the quality of its finish. Details should have a uniform sheen, without pitting or uneven details in the pattern. Look between the tines of the fork. A low quality product will show roughness there.

Style: Cutlery design falls into three categories: Modern, sleek and streamlined, with little or no pattern. Traditional, which often has floral patterns, swirls and curved outlines. And decorative, when the handles include textures or colored non-metallic materials. Choose something that you won’t get tired of.

End: Today, cutlery comes in polished, brushed, or decorative finishes. The smoother the coating and the simpler the design, the more fingerprints, dents and scratches will be on it.

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