Thursday May 13, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Table Knife

On this Day:

In 1637, Cardinal Richelieu of France reputedly created the table knife.

A table knife is an item of cutlery with a single cutting edge, and a blunt end – part of a table setting. Table knives are typically of moderate sharpness only, designed to cut prepared and cooked food.

In early periods in the West, no special kind of knife was used at the table. Men and often women of most classes carried a knife around with them for a great variety of tasks, from pruning trees to personal protection or eating at table. The Anglo-Saxon and Germanic version of this was called the seax, often over a foot long. Guests at a meal brought their own cutlery, usually in a little case called a cadena. It was only in the 17th century that hosts among the elite began to lay out cutlery at the table; at an Italian banquet in 1536 for Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, it is recorded that each guest was provided with a knife, spoon and fork, evidently a rarity.

The distinguishing feature of a table knife is a blunt or rounded end. The origin of this, and thus of the table knife itself, is attributed by tradition to Cardinal Richelieu around 1637, reputedly to cure dinner guests of the habit of picking their teeth with their knife-points.

Later, in 1669, King Louis XIV of France banned pointed knives in the street and at his table, insisting on blunt tips, in the hope that it would reduce violence.

In any table setting, the knife will typically be the piece to bear the maker’s stamp on the blade. The English city of Sheffield is noted for its cutlery manufacture and many knives bear the city’s name in addition to the maker’s.

In the past the blades were typically of carbon steel, with handles of bone, wood or ivory, but many modern examples are now made from a single piece of stainless steel for both handle and blade.

A special type of a table knife is a knife with a “Buckels”-blade. It is also called “Old-German-table-knife”. These blades are usually very thin ground and additionally made of carbon steel. As a result these blades are extremely sharp and it is not necessary to use an additional knife with a serrated edge to cut bread or buns (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

Did you know that knives were the first cutting edge technology?

Second, a Song:

Today we have a song regarding Henry and his long suffering wife, Liza.  To say that Henry is not perhaps the sharpest knife in the drawer is a bit of an understatement.

“There’s a Hole in My Bucket” (or “…in the Bucket”) is a children’s song, based on a dialogue between two characters, called Henry and Liza, about a leaky bucket. The song describes a “deadlock” situation: Henry has a leaky bucket, and Liza tells him to repair it. To fix the leaky bucket, he needs straw. To cut the straw, he needs an axe. To sharpen the axe, he needs to wet the sharpening stone. To wet the stone, he needs water. But to fetch water, he needs the bucket, which has a hole in it. In honour of the song people celebrate National Hole in My Bucket Day on May 30 every year.

Sesame Street is an American educational children’s television series that combines live-action, sketch comedy, animation and puppetry. It is produced by Sesame Workshop (known as the Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) until June 2000) and was created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. The program is known for its images communicated through the use of Jim Henson’s Muppets, and includes short films, with humor and cultural references. The series premiered on November 10, 1969, to positive reviews, some controversy, and high viewership; it has aired on the US’s national public television provider PBS since its debut, with its first run moving to premium channel HBO on January 16, 2016, then its sister streaming service HBO Max in 2020.

The format of Sesame Street consists of a combination of commercial television production elements and techniques which have evolved to reflect the changes in American culture and the audience’s viewing habits. With the creation of Sesame Street, producers and writers of a children’s television show used, for the first time, educational goals and a curriculum to shape its content. It was also the first time a show’s educational effects were formally studied. The show, therefore, has undergone significant changes in its history as adjustments to the format and content have been made to reflect change sources to the curriculum.

Shortly after creating Sesame Street, its producers developed what came to be called the “CTW model” (after the production company’s previous name), a system of television show planning, production, and evaluation based on collaborations between producers, writers, educators, and researchers. The show was initially funded by government and private foundations but has become somewhat self-supporting due to revenues from licensing arrangements, international sales, and other media. By 2006, there were independently produced versions, or “co-productions”, of Sesame Street broadcast in twenty countries. In 2001, there were over 120 million viewers of various international versions of Sesame Street, and by the show’s 40th anniversary in 2009, it was broadcast in more than 140 countries.

As of 2018, Sesame Street has won 189 Emmy Awards and 11 Grammy Awards, more than any other children’s show.

Here is Jim Henson as Henry and Rita Moreno as Liza as Muppets from the Sesame Street version of “There’s a Hole in my Bucket”.  I hope you enjoy this!


Today is a twofer.

Flanders and Swann were a British comedy duo. Lyricist, actor and singer Michael Flanders (1922–1975) and composer and pianist Donald Swann (1923–1994) collaborated in writing and performing comic songs. They first worked together in a school revue in 1939 and eventually wrote more than 100 comic songs together.

Between 1956 and 1967, Flanders and Swann performed their songs, interspersed with comic monologues, in their long-running two-man revues At the Drop of a Hat and At the Drop of Another Hat, which they toured in Britain and abroad. Both revues were recorded in concert (by George Martin), and the duo also made several studio recordings.

Here are Flanders and Swann performing “There’s a Hole in my Budget” from 1974. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin.” – Simone Schwarz-Bart


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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