I am starting a "tools of the trade" series with picks for one reason and one reason only. That reason is that I already had taken these photos and they have been ready to go for months (I took them in October!). I do NOT think picks are the most important part of a bento at all. When I started bento-ing I didn't have any picks, and even now that I have a lot of them, you can see that I really don't even use them all that much! In terms of bento gear importance I'd rank them really low, to be honest. But, they are cute. Really cute. And when I was first getting started with bento it was picks I most coveted. I admired them fondly and jealously in bento photos I came across and hoped someday to have a few sets of my own.
Picks can be handy to piece together fruit or other small foods into little mini-kabobs in a bento box.
Another variety of picks that I call mini-forks are great for eating a lot of small pieces of food.
This is the toolbox I use to keep my picks and mini-forks, along with other small-sized supplies, organized.
I found this case in the hardware section of Target a couple years ago and grabbed it up just as fast I could.
Opening up the top lid a bounty of colorful bits smile up at me.
Taking a closer look...
Do you see those ones at the bottom with the geometric shapes at the tops? Those were the first picks I got my hands on. They are pretty easy to find at baking supply stores, they are "message fun pix" by Wilton.
Do you see those ones in the middle with the little flags attached? I just had to have those. HAD to. I was desperate for them. A friend in California purchased them at a local bento supply shop and mailed them to me. And I have yet to use them. I'll have to get right on that.
Here you can see some of my favorite picks. They are mini-forks shaped like animals. My mostest favoritest ones of all are the giraffes. I adore them. So much in fact that I had to have two sets to ensure back-ups and replacements. Though to be honest, in the three years of I've been packing bento lunches we have only lost about 3 picks total. Not bad. (I'm still relieved to have a surplus of my loveliest items though!).
On the bottom you see my swizzle sticks. These are awesome! I think these were the second type of picks I acquired, after the Wilton ones. These are long, so they don't fit in all bento boxes, but I love them for making fruit kabobs on. They do fit nicely in the long and narrow bento boxes (which I don't use all that often, actually) and I also like them for use in the Goodbyn. I found these at a party supply store. I've seen them at all sorts of other places too, including grocery stores and Target. They are usually in the paper goods section, with paper plates, toothpicks and straws. Try to find some that are more narrow. A really wide swizzle stick will be harder to work with (splitting small pieces of fruit apart).
In this picture you can also see some of the short-handled spoons and forks I have. Those little white ones on the bottom are just the little spoons ice cream shops give you to take a sample taste from. I find them handy for tucking in a bento that I've added a mini-jello cup to.
Those mini-forks in the top corner are very useful. Next to my little animal forks I probably use these ones the most. Under the forks, do you see those primary colored picks? Those are another one of my favorites. I have back-ups of those ones, too. ;-)
Where can you get bento picks?
There is a chain of Japanese dollar stores called IchibanKan. They have a few stores in California and they used to have an online store too. My bento supplies collection grew a lot while their online store was open, but unfortunately it closed when the economy started tanking. If you are lucky enough to be in an area with an IchibanKan, or similar type store, Daiso, then you can pick up all the bento goodies you desire pretty easily!
For the rest of us there is thankfully some online options. Amazon is selling more bento supplies every day (yay!) and there is JList. JList is an online site selling all sorts of Japanese items, including a lot of bento gear. This link here will show you all of the bento picks they have available right now.