person eating a colourful rice bowl with chopsticksa fresh rice bowl with chopsticks and sauce to the side

Why Are They Called Chopsticks?

About a third of the world's population uses chopsticks. The history of chopsticks goes all the way back to around 1200 B.C.. when the Chinese started using them. By around A.D. 500, other regions in Asia had begun using it. There’s a lot to learn about chopsticks. Keep reading to find out the origin of chopsticks and other cool things about these utensils.

Why Are They Called Chopsticks?

The origin of the word chopstick is unclear, but it is widely believed to have originated from the Chinese Pidgin English term “chop chop,” meaning “quickly.” Another possible origin is “chow” or “chow chow,” another Pidgin word meaning “food.” “Kuàizi” (筷子) is the Chinese term for chopsticks. It roughly translates to “quick” and “bamboo.”

Chopsticks in Different Cultures

Chopsticks feature prominently in Asian cuisine, but the style and materials vary depending on the culture.

  • Chinese chopsticks are longer and thicker, with circular sides and wide, tapered ends.
  • Japanese chopsticks are shorter and taper down to a pointed end. In many places in Japan, men use longer chopsticks than women.
  • Korean chopsticks are medium length, with a flat shape. Years ago, most Korean chopsticks had decorated designs made from silver or brass.
  • Chopsticks in Vietnam have a blunt end like those in China. Most are made from bamboo or lacquered wood.
  • Most Chopsticks in Nepal are short and made from bamboo.

In the United States, chopsticks are mainly wooden. Despite these subtle differences, all these chopsticks can be fun and easy to use once you get the hang of them.

Fun, Creative Ways To Use Chopsticks

Besides eating, there are a few other surprising and interesting ways to use chopsticks. Here are four creative ways to use chopsticks.

  • Eating Messy Foods. You can eat Cheetos with chopsticks. With this trick, you need not worry about the grease or dust staining your fingers. You can enjoy the snack as you work without getting your keyboard messy.
  • Frying Foods. You can use longer chopsticks, up 16.5-inch-long, to fry foods like sautéed vegetables. They keep hot oil spatters away and can offers better control than tongs.
  • Making Scrambled Eggs. Speaking of frying food using chopsticks, how about scrambled eggs. Use chopsticks to beat the eggs and to stir them in the frying pan. Makes for tasty dish and easy cleaning afterwards.
  • Reaching Toast. Sometimes the ends of a loaf can be too short to reach after toasting them. Chopsticks are handy in this case. Plus, unlike a metal knife or fork, chopsticks are safe to inside the toaster’s hot interior.

A Festive Season Tradition

Eating at a Chinese restaurant is an important Christmas tradition that started as a tradition in the New York Jewish community but spread to other cultures because the sharable dishes and large portions are excellent for gatherings.

If you take part in this festive holiday tradition, it helps to know how to use chopsticks. Here are four tips to help you master using utensils to enjoy Chinese food.

  1. Open your hand.
  2. Hold the top stick between your thumb, index finger and middle finger.
  3. Hold the bottom stick between your thumb, ring finger and pinky finger.
  4. Combine steps 2 and 3.

Enjoy your meal.

Get Chopsticks Quickly and Affordably

CiboWares helps you efficiently and affordably restock your chopsticks and other disposable catering, restaurant, kitchen and takeout supplies. Choose CiboWares next time you "shop sticks".