A Spoonful of History
At the height of the Great Depression, Americans from all walks of life could at least look forward to an occasional treat, when they could forget their cares with a stroll and a cup of ice cream from a café. The spoons they ate with, simple wooden ones they unwrapped from sanitary sleeves – like ones you might have used if you’ve ever had one of those single-serving ice cream cups at a country fair – came from, of all places, Milford, Delaware.
The Bentwood company operated a factory in Milford between 1920 and 1950, churning out hundreds of thousands of spoons. John H. Mulholland, the company’s founder, specialized in such things, and his Philadelphia-based firm also produced paper plates, tongue depressors, and other “single use” products. But new plastic goods rang the death knell for disposable woodenware, and by 1950 the company was gone.
Milford remained. It is still a vibrant community, and its history is preserved at the Milford Museum, in the city’s original post office. Most of the museum’s collection is on display, and so you can see not only Bentwood spoons but also military, maritime, business, education, and sporting exhibits. Even without ice cream, what better place to forget your cares for a while?
Visit the Milford Museum
Location: 121 S. Walnut St., Milford DE 19963
Phone: (302) 424-1080
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10AM-3:30PM, plus Sundays in May-November, 1PM-3:30PM.