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Magnetized Flatware

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I had an odd experience while having lunch at Gordon Biersch yesterday. After we ordered, and we were waiting for our food, I was playing with my silverware (I know, bad habit). While I was moving it around on the table I noticed that the knife would pull the fork with it whenever I moved it. I picked up each piece and separated them, thinking that they had something sticky on them which was keeping them together. After seeing that they were clean I put them back on the table and started pulling the fork around the table with the knife. I showed my lunch companions and they tried it with their flatware, but it didn't work for them using their utensils. We got a kick out of playing with it until the food arrived, at which point we just ate lunch. I did eat with the utensils during lunch.

There's probably a simple explanation for what caused my knife to become a magnet, but I'm not science savvy enough to know the answer.

Has this ever happened to any other Chowhounders? Any idea what caused it? Was it somehow dangerous or unhealthy to eat with the utensils? Should I have mentioned it to the waiter?

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  1. I have noticed this too. Two things may cause this:
    Tapping metal on metal will cause it to become "magnetized". The process of cleaning and storing the flatware may cause this.
    Otherwise: Some washing systems in restaurants use a strong magnet to keep the flatware from going into the food disposal. That seems to be the most logical reason.

    1. Probably they use a magnetic silverware trap

      1. DH and I had the same experience. We asked the server what was going on. She was coy at first, but then claimed that they had a magnetic system to retrieve flatware from the trash. She explained that she wasn't supposed to tell people that their flatware had been in the trash at some point.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Meann

          hmmmm... It only makes sense if SOME of the flatware had been retrieved from the trash with a magnet, then the flatware would have to be the ferrous type of stainless steel (induction friendly) for some of the magnetic properties to be transfered to the flatware. If ALL of the flatware was magnetic, it would be a real PITA trying to set a table or load or unload a dishwasher when all of the silverware would either attract or repell every other piece! But I can believe that some restaurants would invest in a magnetic flatware retrieval system... That part makes sense.

        2. Thanks everyone for the info. I guess restaurants are trying to cut down on lost flatware with the magnets.

          1. WOW! You got food and toys to play with while you waited? Awesome. Nah can't hurt you, Heck get an MRI. That makes you a magnet for a short while (mind you this is ultra simplistic terms) for the time of the imaging.