The Mysterious Origin of Cherokee’s Spoons Game


A chalkboard in school declares a classroom a “Spoon Free Zone.

On Tuesday, January 10, over one hundred seniors arrived at school with an opponent’s name, a plastic spoon, and over seven hundred dollars on the line. Every year for over a decade, Cherokee seniors have entered the elimination-style competition for a chance at glory, pride, and a cash prize straight out of their peers’ pockets. 

The rules to the “Spoon Game” are simple: after paying the entrance fee towards the prize money, players get a white plastic spoon that they must be holding at all times. Everyone gets a target whose spoon they must steal, while they are also a target for someone else. If your spoon is stolen or you haven’t taken your target’s spoon by the end of the round, you’re out of the game. Each round lasts a week, and the game lasts four rounds plus one day-long elimination round. The only safe zones are sports games and practices, workplaces, specified classrooms, and the home – everywhere else is fair game. 

The Spoon Game has become one of the most recognized parts of the culture at Cherokee, but its origins remain almost entirely unknown. Vice Principal Mr. Lamplugh claims that the game seems to have started in 2010, but one of the people responsible for operating the game this year claims that it dates back to 2001. In my research I found similar elimination games in high schools and colleges across the country, but as far as I could find, Cherokee is the only one with such an…unusual choice of prop. 

You’d have to be either a freshman or incredibly oblivious to not see the spoon game in action at some point. Whether you’ve seen victorious social media posts, watched an elimination in or action, or even passively spotted a senior holding a spoon with a death grip, the tournament finds its way across the school during the weeks that it is active. A few of the more involved seniors take to social media accounts, providing play-by-plays and commentary as the game unfolds. Some teachers don’t take kindly to the action, establishing their classrooms as “Spoon-Free Zones” for the sake of the students’ focus, or perhaps simply out of annoyance. Any other classroom is a gamble.

After almost a month, on February seventh, the game came to a close with four winners: Devan G, Tyler H, Mandy H, and Anthony M. The prize was split four ways, with each one going home with almost two hundred dollars. Just like that, the spoons game comes to an end. In a year, the current juniors will have their shot, and after them the sophomores will come of age, and the cycle will continue. It seems simple, but the spoons game is an annual tournament with no known origin, no concrete conception, and no known instances in any other school in the country. It has operated for at least a decade, though it’s surely much longer, and it shows no sign of ending. Other schools have fake elevator passes, alleged pools on the roof, or ghosts in their science classrooms – we have spoons.