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Thursday, September 1, 2011

On Forks, English Muffins and Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth with Your Mother-in-Law

You know how English muffin packages say they are ‘fork split’?

To Nate this means that you should use a fork to pry open your English muffin, maintaining the previously applied fork-split texture.

To me this means that they already used a fork to split your muffin and you just use your hands to break it apart, thus retaining the nook-and-cranny texture that the fork split causes.

And this is a point upon which we will never agree.

Here is why I’m against opening your English muffin with a fork. The fork now needs to be washed. More dishes. (Yes, I know it’s just a fork…but it’s the principle of the thing.) And using a fork to open it makes more crumbs. Basically, just using my hands and opening the muffin over the sink saves me a bit of extra cleaning. But Nate insists on using a fork. I know. We have some serious marital problems.

The last time Nate’s parents were in town, for some reason I brought this whole thing up with my {completely amazing} mother-in-law, Pat, and complained about the extra fork usage and messy crumbs. She laughed and said, “I use a fork to open them. Like mother, like son.” Thankfully this did not destroy our relationship. I told you she was amazing.

SOOOOO…I’m curious, how do you open your English muffins? (Remember, I control the giveaways…if you want more, best to go with the “correct” answer. Just kidding. Mostly.)


  1. 1

    That’s funny! I use my hands though, like you, over the sink. Have never thought to use anything else.

  2. I use a fork. BUT, in my defense (or offense as you may decide) I put the fork back into the drawer after, without washing. I split over the sink (ala less crumbs) and I’ve always had the mentality that I just freaking poked bread, what on God’s green earth could possibly infect a metal fork, so why wash it.

    There you go. I avoid extra dishes, too many crumbs and an inconsistent split, which is what always happens to me when I have tried to go sans fork.

    • Jane Maynard

      ha ha! love your comment. I was thinking after I hit publish that the fork doesn’t get that dirty. so maybe this just post just highlights my neurosis. in fact, I’m sure it does. πŸ˜‰

      10 points for you…but on the wrong side, I mean Nate’s side, of course. πŸ˜‰

    • I’m 100% with you, nevadamtnbear!

  3. 3

    Wow, I had never read the packaging before. I do neither, I use a knife, the same one I will use to spread butter or peanut butter with. Like you, I hate getting extra things dirty, hence the use of the knife.

    • same as Alice but I use a separate knife for butter and jam, I’m afraid I will infect the jam with the butter. Neurotic much??

    • Jane Maynard

      lorena, I’m sure you’re not alone…in fact…

      I hate finding little hard bits of butter floating in the jam”¦and I REALLY hate finding peanut butter in the jam – yuck!

  4. 4

    I typically use a butter knife, actually. I have no problem using the butter knife because I am already going to be using it to apply yummy spreads once it pops out of the toaster πŸ™‚ But I totally agree about minimizing clean up!

  5. 5
    Jane Maynard

    I’m going to love reading all your comments…and I love that knife people are coming out of the woodwork! πŸ˜‰ THAT is actually something Nate and I agree on in the debate, neither of us ever use a knife to cut it open.

    and who knew something so simple could have so many techniques?

  6. Can’t we just ask the manufacturers what they mean by “fork-split” and get to the bottom of this once and for all? To tell the truth, I never really thought about what it means. I use my hands, though, for the record, OR the same butter knife that I will then use to butter the English muffin. I’ll also add that when I lived in England for a short time last year, muffins (they’re not called “English muffins” there, for obvious reasons) are not pre-split at all. You have to slice them open with a knife. This pre-splitting must be a modern convenience for us lazy Americans. I also made a similar mistake recently with my boyfriend’s mother, when I complained to her about how he rinses the mop he uses to mop the floor in the kitchen sink and asked her didn’t she think that was unsanitary? She said that’s what she does. Doh!

  7. 7

    I like the ones that are actually split/cut the best. It is a good way to avoid marital issues! πŸ™‚

  8. 8
    Tammy Blais

    Does it count if I do both. Depending on the brand, sometimes the cheaper ones just won’t pull open and I know that the inside just doesn’t have that wonderful fork split texture. I just might use a knife on those. Terrible. The better brands that are truly yummy fork split muffins always have to be opened with a fork, to maintain that yummy fork split, toasty pointed inside that was meant to be. There is nothing more disappointing (I’m exaggerating)than a muffin you have tried to pull apart and half of it sticks to the other half and breaks apart! GAH!!

  9. 9
    sea wall

    It’s those damn cornmeal crumbs that, regardless of your splitting technique, insist on getting EVERYWHERE!

    I spritz my english muffin with a fine mist of water before I pry it open, to keep those little bastards in place. Keeps the counter/sink/floor spotless, with the added bonus of getting to burn the little devil cornmeals a firey, toaster-induced hell.

  10. 10
    cassandra kirby

    I always use my hands, over the sink, to split them. I would have never thought there was another way to do it.

  11. 11

    Like Mother like Daughter as the like Mother like Son… I use my hands unless it is a particularly difficult split and then I resort to the butter knife!

    Speaking of butter knives – always used and happily washed in order to fill all those nooks and cranies with BUTTER!!! (and maybe some of that home made raspberry freezer jam)

  12. 12
    sea wall

    Alright, fine. I made all that up. I actually think cornmeal is adorable.

    Hands over the sink, all the way.

  13. 13

    Jane – who knew English muffins could stir up such passion (and bad language sea wall!)


  14. As if you didn’t know how I did it, Jane. πŸ™‚ Would I ever dirty a dish that wasn’t absolutely necessary? Not this neurotic lady. My hands work just as well and those crumbs wash down the sink easy as can be. Which is more than I can say for crumbs on the cupboard.

  15. 15

    This post makes me laugh because my husband insists on using a fork and makes fun of me because I use a knife. Maybe I’m just really uncoordinated but I like the clean cut a knife makes.

  16. 16

    I haven’t read the other comments yet, but I go for the butter knife. I’m going to be either butter/nut butter spreading the second the little bugger comes out of the toaster, so I’m ready and good-to-go. Who uses a fork with english muffins?

  17. 17

    “In order to produce a surface with the proper peaks and craters (which adds to their crunchy texture and provides plentiful pockets for butter and jam), English muffins must be fork-split and gently pulled apart. Using a knife to cut them in half will not produce the desired result.” at However, I do use a sharp to split mine πŸ™‚

    • Jane Maynard

      I love that you looked that up. πŸ™‚

    • Nate

      I guess the determining question is-do you trust your english muffin baker to adequately fork-split your muffin? Are you prepared to bear the consequences of that assumption? At 7 in the morning (OK 8), I’m not ready for any surprises. Plus, I think I win for sanitary reasons-the fork seems more sanitary. I do think we can all agree, using a knife is the wrong answer.

  18. I use a knife, but I feel it rarely works and I end up using my hand to pry the muffin open. Maybe because I don’t want to really cut it on a cutting board (another thing to dirty).. Lots of crumbs which I’m careful about.. shake them into the sink. πŸ™‚

  19. 19
    Kim Maynard

    Hey Janey May! I think you have an awesome mother-in-law too! However, I mostly open my english muffins with my hands like your or God forbid, I slice them with a bread knife! Funny thing is I also like them grilled vs. toasted! It must be from my days of working the lunch counter in my youth!

  20. 20

    This is a fun one! I use the fork while holding the “muffin” over the sink. I love my nooks and crannies. With all 3 of my pregnancies, I would eat an English muffin slathered in peanut butter first thing in the morning during my morning sickness phase. Worked like a charm!

  21. 21

    This just made me crave english muffins, split by hand, of course.

  22. I’m on team fork. And I don’t even split it over the sink…I have a bread board that collects all of the crumbs…for a few days…strange considering I’m a clean freak in most other areas of life.

  23. 23

    My sainted grandmother Rose used to fork split them, smother them with butter (pre-toasting- raw, baby) and broil (in the full scale oven broiler) them to light brown,bubbling absolute perfection, occasionally jam or marmalade (for old people) was added after. This is time consuming, fattening, pan using (paper towel it after), good for large crowds and makes it hard to go back to ordinary toaster cooking. Be careful because it is probably just… too… yummy. But it could be just what the Dr. ordered!

  24. 24
    Suzanne Robinson

    I use my hands- but it seems like English muffins keep getting smaller.Does anyone else feel that way? I found a good recipe to make my own , and they’re cheap, but I seldom make the time. It’s so worth the effort though.

  25. 25

    I use my hands, over the sink, but always feel like I’m breaking the rules by not using a fork. Now that I know there are sides to this issue, I feel slightly less guilty.

  26. 26

    I am a hand/knife splitter all the way. When they are handmade a fork just doesn’t do the job. Mmm, time to make some English muffins.

  27. 27
    Megan Flowers

    Hands over the sink… same theory as yours- less crumbs/ less dirty dishes… Never even considered that anyone would do any different!

  28. 28
    Nicholle Cousino

    I’ve never used my hands to pry one apart – always a fork or a butter knife. I find that using a fork to gently pry it apart seems to maintain a little bit more of that nook and cranny texture….

    Now, I’m off to split my English muffin….. =)

  29. 29

    I use my hands over the sink…but mostly out of laziness. I have found this does not always work with TJ’s (i think they are called British muffins) which require a fork but I do not like the knife method as it tends to push in the side of the english muffin. πŸ™‚

  30. 30

    I am totally with you Jane – it is already fork split! Just use your hands, no need to dirty a fork and create more dishes!

  31. I used my hands just about all of the time I didnt think there was any other way, one time I bought some cheap ones that werent even precut, had to break out a knife! lol

  32. Actually … I use a knife if necessary. I do this because I have to use a knife to add any butter or jam to it. But, I am like you. I get frustrated when my husband and son break out utensils for no good reason.

  33. i’m with you! i use my hands. but if need be, then i will use a knife. using a fork is just plain silly. πŸ™‚

  34. 34
    Stephanie P.

    +1 to using hands over the sink.

    What I really ponder, is why can’t the makers just split the whole thing for us and be done with it!?

  35. 35
    Stephanie P.

    The geek in me went to Thomas’ FAQ page to see if they had an answer. I believe you and Nate might want to call truce, it’s better for the baby that way–haha. Now about those giveaways….more hahaha.

    What’s the best way to toast and cut open an English muffin?
    First, use your hands. Find a crease on the side and pull the muffin apart. If you prefer, you can use your fork. Just poke a hole in three sides of the muffin with a fork and pull apart. Do not use a knife. This cuts away the delicious “Nooks & Crannies” texture. Place each side of the English muffin in separate toaster slots to toast all sides evenly. See our How To page for further detail.

  36. 36
    Diane Brennan

    I have always used my thumbs!! I have never even thought of using a fork…. unless they are frozen.

    ps: First time on your website.. love it.

  37. I love this. I never use a utensil to open them. Definitely just get my grip around it and once I get a few cracks loose, I twist it…opens perfectly every time. Who needs a fork?

  38. 38
    Mr. Efficient

    The most efficient way to open and use an English muffin:

    1. Place paper towel on surface where muffin is to be prepared.

    2. Place clean BUTTER knife on paper towel.

    3. Place butter/jelly/condiments/toppings next to paper towel.
    4. Remove one muffin from bag.

    5. Using butter knife, finish the factories job of splitting the muffin apart.

    6. Toast the muffin.

    7. Spread butter on muffin with butter knife.

    8. (here’s the genius part) Use corner of paper towel to clean knife.

    9. Use the same, now debris free, knife to spread jelly/other condiments.

    10. Now go out and get a job and stop posting on an English muffin blog.

  39. 39

    this looks nothing like a real english muffin
    , is this the american version?
    ur ‘muffins’ have nothing on our crumpets…
    im assuming thats wat there trying to copy

    • so, tina, I only went to wikipedia and didn’t research beyond that, but I think outside of the UK these are called English muffins but in the UK they’re simply called muffins – they’re like flat rolls that you slice in half and then they have nooks and crannies inside. I think these are maybe similar to crumpets in shape, but not quite the same…but I’ve never had a crumpet, sounds like I need to! anyway, the only reason they are called English Muffins is to delineate from what we refer to as muffins, which are basically cupcakes for breakfast. πŸ˜‰ anyway, these are actually quite delicious – better than just regular toast!

  40. 40

    This seems a bit pricey, but if your a gadget person, it may be just the thing. Not sure I would buy one, but I know I would use it. Oh – I *might* wash it a couple times a year. Maybe. Probably not.

    • I love that you posted this link! I noticed this in the last catalog I got and though of this post and it made me laugh. and, I’m with you, washing would be a minimum! πŸ˜‰

  41. Not pricey at all, and will stifle that argument completely so everyone is happy – oh, and just needs a rinse and you’re all good πŸ˜‰
    English Muffin splitter –

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