Though they haven't changed much in thousands of years, chopsticks are among the most common utensils in Hawaii homes -- a staple in many kitchens and restaurants across the Pacific and around the world.
Now, a Hawaii woman has invented what some say is a better pair of chopsticks.
Mylen Fe Yamamoto says she got the idea for "Cropsticks" while traveling on a plane to Asia. When the aircraft hit pockets of turbulence, she says, her chopsticks went rolling off her tray table.
The 29-year-old Moanalua High School grad decided to invent a solution -- one that's poised to hit the marketplace in two days, when Chef Roy Yamaguchi begins featuring her "Cropsticks" at his Eating House 1849 Restaurant in Waikiki.
"This is a dream come true, and it's a huge milestone. I'm still in awe of everything that's happening this past year," Yamamoto said.
Cropsticks look like regular chopsticks, but come with something practical built onto one end: a detachable platform, raised on either side, designed to keep chopsticks from resting flat on the table -- and from rolling away.
"So it's as if you have a knife and a fork, you have a chopstick and a rest," Yamamoto says. "But now we take it one step further and make sure we're eco-friendly. Bamboo is a crop. We're made out of bamboo."
Yamamoto says her mission is not just to run a successful start-up company. She hopes to replace typical wooden chopsticks on a global scale, reinventing them using sustainable bamboo.
"I thought, 'There just has to be a better way,'" said Yamamoto, who was a professor at Loyola Marymount in California -- teaching entrepreneurism -- when she settled on her invention.
She's now chasing a bigger dream, no longer employed by the school.
"Cropsticks became bigger than I thought it would, so I left entrepeneurship to do entrepeneurship fulltime," she says.
Mylen's 'Cropsticks' will soon be standard in Oahu's MW Restaurant, as well as all of Chef Roy's establishments. She's also in negotiations with local and national restaurant chains, retailers and distributors.
"My husband and I, we want to take care of our kids, but it's bigger than us," she says. "For the planet, and it starts with this little chopstick here."