Pitch or Hay Fork

Time for a little fun!?!

Is a three pronged fork a hay fork or a pitch fork?

Grant Wood's American Gothic

Grant Wood’s American Gothic

Perhaps the most famous three pronged fork is pictured in Grant Wood’s American GothicWhen doing a bit of research on this painting, you quickly find out that it is not a new controversy on what to call a three-pronged fork.

Grant Wood, himself, called the fork in American Gothic a pitchfork. In response to complaints that “he didn’t know anything about pitchforks, since all of ‘em have four prongs”,  he stated that the pitchfork he painted had 3 prongs.  Further, a docent (museum guide) at the Art Institute of Chicago have been known to tell people that it is a hay not a pitch fork.

To settle this controversy, an expert is turned to: the Sears catalog.  The 1912 Sears Catalog (number 124) on page 1045.  Double Click on the image to see all the different forks sold in 1912.

SearsCatolog1912 no124 p1045

1912 Sears Catolog (number 124) , page 1045

In 1912, Sears did NOT sell a pitch fork.  They sold hay forks, alfalfa forks, barley forks, spading forks, coke forks, scooping forks and the ever popular manure forks.  Unfortunately, hay forks came in 3 and 4 tine varieties.  greenacres

Perhaps another expert to ask would be Oliver Wendell Douglas or his wife, Lisa.  They may have the second most famous three prong fork!  Unfortunately, the location of Green Acres was never revealed!

As we have seen, Sears did not sell anything called a “pitchfork”.  It appears the term pitchfork is generic.  A casual survey of websites that sell forks, shows the term pitchfork and hay fork are used interchangeable.  Thus, the controversy remains!!!  So sad that American Gothic, Sears or Green Acres could not solve this .




No matter what you call the fork, the rules in the Heavy Athletics were written with respect to a 3 tine fork, not four or more tines.  So do not be upset when a modified 5 tine fork is disallowed.

* What is a three pronged fork called?