Why Are Charger Plates Called Chargers


Why Are Charger Plates Called Chargers?

Charger plates, also known as service plates or show plates, are large decorative plates that are used as an elegant base for other dinnerware during formal occasions. They are typically made of various materials such as glass, porcelain, or metal and are placed beneath the dinner plate or soup bowl. Charger plates are commonly used in fine dining restaurants, weddings, and other special events to enhance the overall presentation of the table setting. Interestingly, the term “charger” has an intriguing history behind it.

The origin of the word “charger” can be traced back to the Middle Ages when knights used large, round metal plates called “chargers” to hold food. These chargers were often used as a decorative base for smaller plates, bowls, and cups. They were made of materials like gold, silver, or pewter, and were intricately designed with engraved patterns or coats of arms. Knights would use these chargers to present their food in a grand and regal manner during feasts or banquets.

Over time, the use of chargers in dining settings evolved beyond the noble halls of knights. As the tradition of ornamental dining spread to the upper classes, charger plates became a symbol of wealth and sophistication. The chargers were no longer limited to metal materials but were also made with fine porcelain or glass. These plates were increasingly used as a decorative element, adding elegance and a touch of luxury to the dining experience.

The term “charger” itself is derived from the Old French word “chargeour,” which means “large dish.” This word later evolved into “charger” in English, referring specifically to the large decorative plates used during formal meals. The name stuck and charger plates have been called “chargers” ever since.

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FAQs about Charger Plates:

1. Are charger plates meant to be eaten off of?
No, charger plates are not meant to be eaten off of. They are purely decorative and serve as a base for other dinnerware. Once the first course is finished, the charger plate is typically removed before the next course is served.

2. What size should charger plates be?
Charger plates are usually around 12 to 14 inches in diameter. The size may vary depending on the style and design of the charger plate, as well as the size of the dining table and the other dinnerware.

3. Can charger plates be used with any type of dinnerware?
Yes, charger plates can be used with a variety of dinnerware, including porcelain, ceramic, or even disposable plates. They are versatile and can complement different table settings and themes.

4. How should charger plates be cleaned?
Charger plates should be hand washed with mild soap and warm water. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that may damage the decorative surface of the plate. Dry them thoroughly before storing to prevent any moisture-related damage.

5. Are charger plates necessary for every formal occasion?
While charger plates are not a necessity for every formal occasion, they are often used to create an upscale and sophisticated atmosphere. They add an extra layer of elegance to the table setting and can make a significant visual impact.

In conclusion, charger plates are called “chargers” due to their historical association with large, decorative plates used by knights during feasts and banquets. Over time, they became a symbol of wealth and sophistication, enhancing the dining experience in formal settings. Charger plates are not meant to be eaten off of but rather serve as a base for other dinnerware. They are available in various sizes, can be used with different types of dinnerware, and require hand washing for proper maintenance. Although not necessary for every formal occasion, charger plates have become a popular choice to elevate the ambiance of special events and fine dining experiences.

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