Today is General Tso’s birthday, and to honor that fact Panda Express is giving away a free chork with every purchase!
While chopstick-forks have appeared in culinary history before today, Panda will be the first chain to introduce them to the mainstream audience, and their marketing tools insist they ‘invented’ it so presumably they’re using something of a new model. In a statement to First We Feast, Panda explained their rationale for the new silverware:
“Chorks were introduced to the public during the launch of the dish yesterday. The tool is a perfect way to illustrate the mashup of American and Chinese cultures—just like Panda Express. Chorks are a unique utensil that elevate the way people experience their food. While Chorks are not currently available at Panda Express locations, there is a possibility that they will make their way into stores in the future.” (aka today!)
So we’re not yet sure if these are limited-edition or if they’ll become as commonplace as fortune cookies, but Panda has abandoned ambitious innovations in the past. In 2012 they introduced the Paw Plate, a dish that offered three smaller-portioned entrees for the price of two, but recalled it apparently due to low sales. Later select locations offered the delicious-but-life-shortening orange chicken with bacon, which somehow apparently didn’t catch on well enough to become a standard dish. So I’m grabbing my chork today just in case they don’t survive the test of time.
This guy’s totally right though: Why didn’t they call it forkchops?
Update: So I got my chork, and I have to report it’s actually pretty difficult to use. The food tends to slide off the sticks, and more than once I failed the balancing act of bringing a piece of orange chicken from the plate to my mouth, and this is coming from someone who can proficiently use a normal set of chopsticks. The problem is that they’re smooth plastic, wooden chorks would do better but I don’t think wood forks are really a thing. Speaking of the fork half, it does its job perfectly well, though the chopstick half is a bit awkward to hold onto as a handle. I should also note that I normally eat my Panda meal with a toothpick because for whatever reason I prefer spearing my food like a shish kebab, so I might not be the most unbiased of customers, but I’m likely to keep eating my orange chicken with a toothpick.