This content originally appeared on Southern Living.
Most Southerners grew up knowing that when company came for dinner, it meant the good china, polished silver, and a properly set table. That meant the right glasses, salad plates, dinner plates, and dessert plates and all the proper silverware for the meal, from salad forks to soup spoons to corn cob holders to oyster plates and glasses for dessert wine. When the table was set, it was a thing of beauty, although learning to navigate it correctly required many reminders.
As adults, though, many of us have learned to love a well-set table, filled with the right tools for an elegant meal. Members in the Facebook group There’s No Place For Bad Manners have been known to discuss the finer details of a place setting for hours, debating the difference between asparagus forks and lobster forks and plain old salad forks. Despite the joy of properly laid out silverware, a new study reveals that knowing how to properly set a table for company may be a dying art.
The home improvement company Porch conducted a survey and found a shocking statistic—one third of millennials cannot identify a butter knife. A butter knife! That does not bode well for their ability to recognize an oyster server or a fruit spoon, let alone the all-important bacon fork.
There is some good news, though: this is just a single nonscientific survey with a very small sample size. That means that a dinner table without soup tureens and trifle dishes does not have to become a reality. We can change the possible future without soup spoons and salad forks by simply teaching the young people in our lives the way our parents taught us. Do the world a favor and teach a young person about butter knives today, and while you’re at it, tell them about oyster spoons and bacon forks, too.