Summer is the perfect time for outdoor dining. One of the biggest discussions when planning an outdoor meal either at home or at your favorite Hudson Valley park is paper, plastic or real plates and utensils.

Colourful party paper cups and plates on table top.
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Growing up there were many occasions my family turned to paper products to set a table. We even dabbled in the now dreaded Styrofoam. My mom's philosophy was basically to always make sure the plates and utensils were substantial enough to support whatever and whoever was being served. For example a kid party always had cool paper products that include cups and plates. She usually made sure that the food serve was able to be eaten with your hands to avoid the plastic knife and fork.

However if we were have adults enjoying the same meal suddenly real plates and glass were available to the grownups and the casual silverware ended up in a basket just out of small people's reach. To this day I still use my mom's process for determining the ratio of paper to real utensil usage at a gathering. Disposable is easy but it is fun and sometimes better if you can use the real stuff.

Okay so who is credited with inventing the paper plate? According to Wonderopolis paper plate creation is credit to Martin Keyes who first saw workers in New York eating off scrape wood veneer. This apparently gave him the idea to design a disposable plate.

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