Snopes and the Wooden Spoon

One of the perennial categories of urban legend on the snopes page is the “Tales of the Wooden Spoon”.

Is, or was there once, an urban legend pertaining to wooden spoons? I’ve never seen an explanation on the site or an urban legend referencing spoons, wooden or otherwise, as far as I can recall.

I am not sure I remember this exactly, but at one time there were two seperate sites - Tales of the wooden spoon and snopes which were dedicated to urban legends. Tales of the wooden spoon I think refers to tales told in the kitchen.

This is true! I heard it from a friend of mine who has some very old bookmarks on thier computer. :wink:

Old wives’ tales, perhaps?

Don’t recall ever seeing or hearing of a “Wooden Spoon” site apart from snopes. There was, and still is, an Alt.Folklore.Urbanlegends website, aka AFU, and I think there was a personal website for that guy who collected urban legends for years and years and believes himself to have invented the term…Jan Brunvand, I think? Those are the only ones of any stature that I’m aware of.

I was just kidding, I checked into some very old bookmarks on my computer just afterwards.

I had snopes wooden spoons around from somewhere between 96 to 98 at

I definately think it has to do with Old Wives Tales.

A wooden spoon is traditionally awarded as the ‘booby prize’ in many informal competitive events (over here, at least) - usually for a player that not only loses, but spectacularly so.
I wonder if this might have anything to do with it.

iAs I understand the category (it stll exists, so you can look for yourself,) it is a mixture of other categories - a sampler so to speak. The page even refers to “licking the spoon,” implying that it is to get you to try things out and then go and pig out on the rest of the site.

It may also have something to do with one of the site’s operators, Barbara Mikkelson. She’s semi-famous in the AFU circles for a)running Snopes, and b)making butterscotch. In fact, if I remember right, she had (or still may have) a standing offer of a batch of her homemade butterscotch for anyone who can offer up a verifiable story of a child sticking his head out a schoolbus window, having his head knocked off by something, and the head bouncing back into the bus and landing at the feet of the deceased’s friend (or possibly in his lap, can’t remember).

I remember the weirdest things.

Take a look at this posting by Barbara Hamel (pre-Mikkelson) from the Usenet group “alt.folklore.urban” from way back on January 10, 1996,“wooden+spoon”+group:alt.folklore.urban&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&scoring=d&as_drrb=b&as_mind=12&as_minm=5&as_miny=1981&as_maxd=31&as_maxm=12&as_maxy=1996&

This is, I believe, one of the very first references Barbara ever made to her wooden spoons.

As you can see, she earned something of reputation as a net-cop on AFU and threatened to paddle miscreants with her wooden spoons on more than one occasion.

I asked Barbara herself. Here you go:

Thanks for asking about that. Would you mind posting the following for
me on the board? The indented sections should be offset into quotation

  • Barbara

It doesn’t, Mangetout, but good on you for coming up with that as a
possibility. I found out about that meaning years after our Wooden
Spoons section was up and running.

Flypsyde, you were almost on the money. Naming that section “wooden
spoons” does have to do with me, but not because of my standing offer
of homemade butterscotch for anyone who can come up with a verifiable
news report of a child riding in a schoolbus being beheaded by a road

chukhung has it.

When snopes first talked me into putting some of my writings on the
site, I had this hodge-podge of articles to work with that were about
everything and anything. We decided that at least at the beginning
we’d set up a special grab-bag category, with an eye towards moving
the stories from there to proper categories once we had them set up.

The question of what to call this new section then arose. After a
short yet memorable career of threatening to use virtual wooden spoons
on various deserving backsides in AFU, my name became firmly associated
with the implements. Since there was no good name for this new
category anyway, we figured this would do.

chukhung did find one of the earliest posts where I mentioned this
particular use of those utensils, but the first AFU post that mentioned
my fondness for using those implements in that manner was in October

[slight hijack] My daughters bus driver told her this happened to him. Why would any adult tell something like that to a kid.I realize it’s to keep them from sticking their heads out the window.While my daughter is in eighth grade, she is still a sensitive child, and the image of this happening upset her greatly.She was upset for the child, who lost his head.The parents of said child, and she felt sorry for the stuipid s.o.b of a bus driver who had to supposedly see such a thing.[/slight hijack]