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"The most brilliant invention since the wheel!" exclaims MIT student Diego Garcia, brandishing a pair of Forkchops. An elongated pair of chopsticks with knife and fork at one end, the versatile eating utensil has been popping up on college campuses across the country. Students liken it to a bicycle with training wheels -- if the chopstick end doesn't cut it, you just flip the sticks to spear, slice, or scoop those elusive morsels on your plate.
The hybrid implement is the brainchild of Donald BonAsia, a young Los Angeles designer who spent five years living and eating in Japan. Musing on westerners' problems manipulating chopsticks, BonAsia hit upon the face- saving solution. "It was an epiphany," he says. "The concept and the name, 'Forkchops,' just came to me at the same moment.
College students first latched onto Forkchops when they appeared in the Wordsworth Annex at Cambridge, where students from Tufts, MIT, and Harvard snapped them up. The spare, multifunctional design fits perfectly with their fast-paced lifestyle and global outlook. Garcia, a buyer for the MIT bookstore, says he can't keep them in stock.
Washable and reusable, the original basic black model has blossomed into a rainbow of colors with names like Watermelon, Champagne, and Green Tea.
Besides stores geared to college students, Forkchops also tend to surface in museum gift stores and cool little multicultural galleries from Tokyo to Honolulu to London.