The story appears on

Page A4

May 7, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Metro

Girl's gizmo makes chopsticks a snap

USING chopsticks should no longer be difficult for Westerners, now that a 14-year-old girl has invented a simple tool to help beginners conquer the pair of sticks.

Chu Mingming, from northeastern China's Liaoning Province, is offering her invention as a gift to foreign visitors to the World Expo in Shanghai.

"Expats will find it a piece of cake to pick up everything with the gadget," she said.

She hoped the invention will get more expats interested in the splendor of Chinese cuisine.

Users place their fingers inside a scissors-like pair of plastic clips that connect the sticks, making the two sticks feel more like an extension of two fingers.

Generally, people use four fingers to control a pair of chopsticks. With Chu's device, they need only a thumb and forefinger.

"So it becomes much easier to control the chopsticks," she said.

Chu started to make a sample tool about six months ago, using some glue bottles, eye-drop bottles and plastic price tags. When she was ready, she sent the model to a factory to make the first batch of 10,000 products, all funded by her parents.

However, the initial version of the chopsticks tool had some defects and she put them aside to create better ones, despite the huge cost.

"The first version of the device was prone to twist when the user tried to pick up food," Chu recalled.

She revised the design to make it more stable and asked the factory to make a new batch of 10,000 at a cost of 6,000 yuan (US$878).

Chu has applied for a national patent for her device and the authorities accepted her application.

She brought all the products to the city with her mother on April 24, and had been visiting international hotels in the city and Chinese restaurants inside the Expo site, persuading employees there to take these little tools as freebies for foreign customers and guests. She had distributed 1,000 of the gifts by yesterday.

However, she didn't always get the welcome she expected because some hotel employees regarded her as an annoying saleswoman.

"I felt heartaches when I saw her walk out of the hotel after being turned down, tears hidden in her eyes," said Liu Xiaoyan, Chu's mother, who has been accompanying the girl.

But Chu gets her confidence and optimism back when she talks to foreign visitors inside the Expo site.

"I like the device very much because it is so convenient and easy to use," said Behnaz Toosi, visiting from Canada.

Toosi said she always had to ask for knife and fork when she ate in Chinese restaurants back in Vancouver because she couldn't use chopsticks.

"Now that I have this little device, I can soon use chopsticks with a little more practice," Toosi said, smiling and giving Chu a hug.

Kay Matysik, a German visitor, said: "She should sell it. This would become very popular, especially among Europeans."

Chu said the praise from foreign visitors was a great incentive for her.

"Every time I feel tired and frustrated, I can always be inspired again by those friendly and warm foreign friends," said Chu. "They made everything worthwhile."

She was so busy promoting her free gifts and had not even visited a pavilion in the Expo site until yesterday evening.

"My biggest wish right now is that all 10,000 tools could be sent out to foreign visitors before the Expo closes."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend