Monday, February 2, 2009

Mystery of the Magnetic Silverware?

Mystery solved! Our new formula:
{ Amount of Magnetism } =
{Amount of Time Spent in or Near Trash Bin}

I've seen this happen at a few restaurants now. There seems to be some sort of trend towards magnetic silverware? Is it meant to take the “mettalic particles” out of the food? You'll wish it was. Today we expose the creepy truth behind the magnetic silverware mystery.

Magnetic Silverware

Back story:
I noticed it first when dining with my wife at a Red Robin burger-joint near our old apartment. While annoying her with horrible Benny and Joon impressions, I noticed my forks were sticking together. After examining the utensils for clenliness we determined they were strangely magnetic.

So, when I lunched with Penny today and noticed the same thing happening in another establishment, I just had to document the phenomenon. Then I found out the truth...

OMG Magnetic Silverware is People! Just joking, I think that's our second Soylent Green reference on this blog.

The truth is Restaurants will sometimes purchase magnetic trash bin lids to prevent silverware loss. Have a look at the following links:
Flatware Retriever
Rectangular Flatware Retriever

Now that we know about the magnetic lids, we can get to our theory. Think back to your grade-school science classes and you may remember that magnets can produce other magnets. If you leave a piece of metal containing iron on a magnet for long enough, the metal will itself become magnetized. This can explain what is happening to the silverware.

The longer or more times the silverware has been in contact with the trash bin, the more magnetic it will become. Gross eh?

So with this new knowledge, I will take the stand and say that magnetic silverware may be a sign of a not-so-good restaurant. Bussing tables without losing silverware should not be that hard. Imagine how much time they are not putting into your food prep if they can’t take the time to separate your half-eaten lasagna from your cheese-coated fork.

The next time you find that your silverware is magnetized, you'll know where that spoon has been.

This has been your unofficial lunch education post,


We have learned that some restaurants are purchasing silverware that is already magnetized. This may make you worry a little less until you realize that they are purchasing it because they keep losing their old silverware. Now instead of just getting rid of that contaminated fork they'll be fishing it out of the garbage, again and again. My comment about restaurants that need this kind of help still stands. It's a good sign of not-so-good food.


  1. Magnetic silverware recovery systems are not a sign of poor quality or bad operations. These systems stop silverware from accidentally being thrown out and are caught before falling into the trash. They are never used as a primary form of sorting silverware. Please also note that magnetism occurs after one exposure to the system and can distribute from piece to piece through silverware on silverware contact.

  2. You are aware that food serving establishments have to maintain standards of cleanliness that includes sanitizing tablets and washers that reach super high temps? Even if they pulled a fork out of a feces filled toilet, that fork would then be rinsed off and put into a sink full of sanitation solution and then put through the sanitation washer... It's fine... It's clean...

    It isn't something you want to THINK about, but that's just the gross out factor that has nothing to do with actual cleanliness...

  3. Everyone makes a good point... but... like the home with furniture covered in plastic, it still seems a little... um... either lazy or just a sign of a lower-end service. Just a consumer's opinion here - not in the food service industry myself.

  4. You dumb fu@$. You obviously have very little knowledge about restaurants. Silverware is expensive and no matter how good of a busser you are some inadvertently ends up in the trash. Additionally, even the silverware at your house has fell on the floor and been in multiple mouths. If your home silverware fell in the trash when you were scraping a plate, would you leave it or wash it. It is metal and can be sanatized. Restaurants have a small profit margin as is. If you want your red Robin burger to stay under $20, use the magnetic silverware. Finally, your epiphany was not a great discovery. It like a dumbass first discovering static electricity.


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