While the origin and meaning of the spoon necklace trend taking over TikTok may be hazy, one thing is for sure – this jewelry obsession is here to stay.
From sold-out Lana del Rey merch and some not-so-legal connotations, all the way to cult movie Cruel Intentions, the spoon necklace captures the imaginations of rebellious teens.
So, it’s no surprise the trend is back with a vengeance on TikTok, baffling out-of-the-loop users with its potential meaning.
What does wearing a spoon necklace mean… well it depends who you ask
The possible meaning of a spoon necklace varies depending on which online community you ask, but generally opinions are split into three camps.
In the disability community, wearing a spoon necklace can mean solidarity. Some people living with chronic illness, mental health issues or neurodivergent diagnoses use something called Spoon Theory to manage energy levels on a daily basis.
Essentially, one’s energy level is represented by a set number of spoons at the beginning of the day and each task (getting out of bed, showering, cooking breakfast) takes a number of spoons depending on how difficult or easy the task is to accomplish on a given day.
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Christine Miserandino, who in 2003 came up with Spoon Theory to illustrate the challenges of living with lupus, explains that “people with chronic conditions only have a limited supply [of energy]. The supply is also variable and unpredictable. We never know how many spoons we’ll have when we wake up.”
In this context, Spoonies (as the community calls itself) might wear a tiny spoon necklace, meaning they get it.
Others, though not associated with Spoonies, might simply wear the necklace as a quirky fashion statement. Indeed, there are lots of Etsy shops selling handmade jewelry fashioned out of antique, silver-plated spoons paired with semi-precious stones and pearls.
Far from looking like you broke into grandma’s cutlery cupboard, these necklaces can be stunning accessories, and usually signal the wearer as a knack for DIY statement pieces.
And then there are the not-super-legal meanings of the spoon necklace.
The dark meaning associated with a spoon necklace
On the flip side of things, a spoon necklace can mean one enjoys using illegal substances and wants to signal this to fellow users. Or they need the tiny spoon expressly for that purpose.
Also known as a “coke spoon”, a tiny spoon on a necklace, which was used to snort cocaine, first became popular on the 1970s party scene. The protagonist of 1972 blaxploitation neo-noir drama Super Fly famously wore a coke spoon necklace and in 1979, McDonald’s discontinued its tiny coffee stirring spoon as it had become popular with drug users.
Spoon necklaces also have a long history of being used for snuff tobacco. Pulverized tobacco, also known as snuff, became popular during the 1600s and by the mid-1700s, users added a tiny spoon, sometimes worn as a necklace for ease, to their snuff accessories.
That time Lana del Rey’s merch line included spoon necklaces
Fast-forward to 2017, Summertime Sadness musician Lana del Rey allegedly released a necklace with a spoon as part of her merch line. However, as reported by Refinery29, some fans seem to remember the item being sold at concerts as early as 2015.
The piece features a gold rosary chain with a heart attached to it, which unscrews to reveal a tiny spoon.
Though it quickly sold out or became otherwise unavailable, the necklace has been trending again on TikTok, where Lana del Rey fandom is booming.
Fans of the sad-girl songstress frequently post videos featuring her music, iconic looks and of course merch. The #LanaCult hashtag on TikTok has amassed 624 million views and shows no signs of slowing down.
Indeed, some users believe the spoon necklace – with all its meanings – may be seeing a resurgence in popularity partly thanks to Lana del Rey fans.
However, with an accessory as varied in meaning and origin as this, it could be anyone’s guess – and the work of at least three (sometimes overlapping) online communities.