Any enthusiast of magic is aware of spoon bending. Spoon bending took off as a magic form in the 70s, popularised by celebrity magicians like Uri Geller, an Israeli-British illusionist who grew to fame for his controversial claims to genuine psychic ability that he was unable to replicate under test conditions. Many of Geller’s claims were debunked by fellow magician and co-founder of the Committee for Sceptical Inquiry, James Randi. Randi offered a $1 million prize to anyone who could demonstrate psychic or paranormal abilities under test conditions, an offer that has existed (the prize money being slowly raised over time from $1000) since 1964 with nobody successfully claiming it yet.

Due to the fame cast on it by Geller and other prominent magicians in the late 20th century, spoon bending has become an iconic form of stage magic, almost as instantly recognisable than card or coin tricks.

There are multiple methods of spoon bending from the obvious sleight of hand to the more long-term preparation plays. Most spoon bending tricks work by simply distracting your audience with hand gestures while you bend the spoon manually. Most teaspoons are incredibly easy to bend between a thumb and finger on one hand, but for stiffer or thicker spoons it has been suggested that “adjusting your chair” to bend the spoon against the wood of your seat is an excellent way to covertly bend a stubborn spoon while appearing to complete a perfectly natural movement most will ignore completely.

For the more long-term spoon bending tricks, trick spoons themselves may be planted or the magician may otherwise influence the audience into selecting it. You can also weaken a spoon significantly in advance by bending it back and forth until you can see the metal is weakening and coming close to snapping. There are also sleight of hand tricks for convincing the audience you’ve bent the spoon without even doing so! You then “bend the spoon back to normal” before revealing it!

Spoon bending, thanks to the efforts of magicians claiming true paranormal powers, has also lent its name to an award dedicated to these unscrupulous claims! The Bent Spoon Award is given out annually by the Australian Sceptics Association to the person who has made the most ridiculous and outlandish claim of powers. There is a catch though – if you want to actually hold the trophy, of which there is only one copy, you need to acquire it through paranormal means. This has yet to be achieved.