Wooden spoons are utility spoons for the kitchen, typically large and typically made from a single piece of wood. The wood will always be hardwood.
Wooden spoon design
The back of the bowl of wooden spoons is thicker than that of metal or plastic spoons. Some people feel this gives these spoons an advantage, because unlike the thinner-backed metal spoons, they don’t cut into a mixture letting air, gasses, etc. escape, but rather actually just stir it. Many recipes in fact will specify that you should use a wooden spoon for this reason.
Wooden spoons can be used to prevent scratching non-stick surfaces, or when working with ingredients that can react with metal. They won’t melt on you if accidentally left in a frying pan.
Some people like to have separate ones for separate chores, such as tomato sauce, stews, etc.
Many people say they just prefer the feel of cooking with wood rather than metal (though that doesn’t seem to apply to wooden pots.)
When people talk about flat-edge wooden spoons, what they actually mean are wooden spatulas.
See also: Spurtles
Care of wooden spoons
Wooden spoons won’t last forever; they are not meant to. If you really want to, you can sand stained ones down, and treat them with mineral oil, but such effort may not be worth the bother for the small amount of money that they cost. If you really want perfect ones to display, you can just buy separate ones for display and hang them up.
Some people advise not to put wooden spoons in the dishwasher, and to just rinse by hand to extend their lifespan. Others say that given that wooden spoons aren’t meant to last forever anyway, and their low cost, they just toss them in the dishwasher.
Some people say their wooden spoons taste terrible over time. It may be that the spoons are absorbing a mix of tastes overtime, or not being thoroughly cleaned.
Don’t use wooden spoons to stir food in the blender while it’s running, or you’ll end up with shards of wood in your food.
The first spoons man that man used were carved of wood. Metal eating utensils weren’t common in the British North American colonies until the 1700s. As wooden spoons were displaced as utensils for eating, they remained as tools for cooking.
Literature & Lore
A wooden spoon used to be the first item a mother reached for to spank a child. Many a grown-up has tales of laughing when the wooden spoon broke — and of what happened after laughing.
Some home craft people use them to make dolls out of.