There are few things at a county fair more motivating than the menu.
Now, after sampling spoonfuls of food — for the precious few offerings that require cutlery, anyway — Orange County Fair attendees can get their fill on the spoons themselves.
Yes, you read that right: There are now edible spoons at the Costa Mesa fairgrounds.
The digestible utensils are available in the Culinary Arts section of the OC Promenade and come in two flavors — chocolate and plain. The spoons are vegan and come individually packaged in a thin, paper pouch.
Although the spoons are fairly small, it takes a deliberate chomp to actually bite through them. They will gradually dissolve and soften as they interact with moisture — lasting about 25 minutes when used with hot soups or liquids and about 45 minutes with colder desserts.
And yes, they taste pretty good. Plus, the flavors aren’t strong enough to overwhelm the food.
Pamela Wnuck, the culinary arts supervisor for the OC Fair, said she thinks the chocolate spoon pairs well with guacamole. (Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.)
Eating the spoons on their own for novelty’s sake isn’t the point of having them at the fair, Wnuck said.
Wnuck first came across the tasteable tableware when she was scrolling on her phone, looking for something unique — “that ‘aha’ moment,” she said.
San Jose-based Planeteer manufactures a selection of the spoons in a variety of flavors as part of its effort to create environmentally friendly products to limit the use of plastics. Single-use plastics currently account for about half of all manufactured plastics, according to the United Nations Environment Program.
Planeteer founder Dinesh Tadepalli said he first decided to begin his work after his children were born, as he recognized the damage that has been done to the Earth. He said he wanted to secure a better planet and future for his children, “and for [them] to be able to enjoy the oceans we have right now.”
Following some research on compostable and biodegradable materials, Tadepalli said he discovered that many biodegradable productsrequire special composting facilities, but are instead ending up in landfills where they can’t degrade properly.
Biodegradables, he said, are “better than plastic, which takes 1,000 years [to break down], but it’s still harmful.”
After reaching out and speaking with Tadepalli, Wnuck placed an order for 1,000 edible spoons.
Those ran out within five days. As of Friday afternoon, Wnuck said the fair has “sold” out three times and distributed about 1,500 spoons since opening day on July 12.
Some attendees, she said, pay it forward by covering the small donation fee of 25 cents for each spoon to give to others in an effort to encourage people to do the same.
“These spoons cost me 23 cents; we’re not making any money on them,” Wnuck said. “So, the 2 cents that we raise? It just goes to the Centennial Farm Foundation. People kept saying to me, ‘Why don’t you sell them for $1?’ Well, I could easily sell them for $1, but I would probably sell half as many. But the whole concept is to get people to think about it, be conscious about it. It’s not for a profit ... it’s just to get it in people’s mind about trying to make a difference.”
IF YOU GO
What: Orange County Fair
Where: OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
When: Wednesdays through Sundays through Aug. 11; noon to midnight Wednesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays
Cost: General admission is $12 Wednesdays through Fridays and $14 on weekends. Several specials and discounts are available. For details, visit ocfair.com/oc-fair/discounts.