The Spoons

You used to see souvenir spoons everywhere: gift shops, hotels, tourist traps, airports. They were sterling silver or pewter, or at least electroplated. Some had fancy enamel on the handles or tips and beautiful engraving in the bowls. Now, if you are lucky enough to find souvenir spoons, they’re usually cheap nickel and any colorful bits on them are made of plastic.

My weird fondness for souvenir spoons started in 1977, when my parents took me on a trip to the east coast. Every tourist trap we went to had spoons for sale with the name of the place you were visiting, or the city or state it was in.

The first one I remember getting was in Gloucester, Massachusetts, when we visited my Aunt Kit at her home. From then on out, wherever I traveled, I would pick up a spoon as a souvenir of the trip. Other people started bringing me spoons, too, and the collection kept growing.

Souvenir spoon from Gloucester, Massachusetts.
The first “tacky” spoon, from Gloucester, Massachusetts.

At some point, probably in my teens, I stopped actively collecting them. I saw it as a dumb thing that I did as a kid, but I wasn’t going to buy a spoon rack an hang them in my home, so what’s the point?

Friends and family remembered my love of spoons, however, and I still got excited when someone would remember to bring me one from some far-off destination. You know, like Las Vegas. (I have three spoons from the M&M store there.)

So, I started collecting again. When people would ask me what they could bring me back from a trip, I’d immediately respond “A tacky spoon! The tackier, the better!” If someone didn’t know what that was, I had an elevator pitch ready to go: “You know, the cheap little spoons that you get at airport gift shops? Like, with a little enamel badge at the top that says ‘TEXAS’ and the bowl is in the shape of a shovel?”

I bought the domain tackyspoons.com back in 1998 and never did anything with it until 2017, when I decided to post a spoon a day for a year. I fell a little short, only managing to post 223 spoons that year.

Here’s a sample: