While the precise origins of chopsticks are unknown (the first chopsticks may have been twigs used to spear a roast cooked over an open fire) they were definitely in use by the Shang dynasty (1766 BC - 1122 BC). Their enduring popularity since that time may actually be linked to Chinese cooking methods - before stir-frying the food is cut into tiny pieces, making them easy to manipulate with a chopstick. In the west, where fork eaters are in the majority, it is sometimes easy to forget that the fork has only recently become an essential item at the dinner table. True, the Byzantines used forks in the 10th century, and Catherine de M'edici introduced the pointed tines to the French court in the early 1500s. But in the United States, it wasn't until the eighteenth century that people felt the need for more than a knife and spoon. By contrast, chopsticks have been the utensil of choice thoughout all of China since the Han dynasty (approximately 200 BC to 200 AD).