Chopsticks evolved in China during the Chou Dynasty (1122–255 BCE), not due to fashion but mostly because of the nation’s poverty at the time. While starvation was a big problem, the land did have plenty of water for rice farming, so the country’s forests were cleared in favor of agriculture. As a result, firewood became a luxury item, and culinary trends reflected the need for shorter cooking times. For example, instead of boiling or baking large items, cooks chopped them into small pieces that could be stir-fried quickly.
Read the rest at mental_floss.