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Have you ever wondered why they call them charger plates? It’s a question that might have crossed your mind during a fancy dinner or a special event. Charger plates, also known as service plates or underplates, are a common sight on elegant dining tables. But what purpose do they serve? Why are they called charger plates, to begin with? In this article, we will explore the origins and significance of charger plates, unraveling the mystery behind their peculiar name. So, get ready to discover the fascinating world of charger plates and the role they play in elevating your dining experience.

Why Do They Call Them Charger Plates: Exploring the Origin

Why Do They Call Them Charger Plates?

Charger plates, also known as service plates or underplates, have long been a staple of elegant dining. These decorative plates are larger than the standard dinner plate and are typically placed beneath the dinner plate during formal occasions. But have you ever wondered why they are called charger plates? In this article, we will delve into the origins of charger plates and explore the various reasons behind their name.

The History of Charger Plates

To understand why they are called charger plates, we need to take a trip back in time. Charger plates have a rich history that dates back centuries. They were initially used as early as the 14th century in Europe, where they were made of precious metals such as gold and silver and adorned with intricate designs.

During medieval times, charger plates were more than just decorative elements. They were functional pieces used as a base for serving multiple courses in grand feasts and banquets. The large size of charger plates provided an elegant border around the smaller dinner plate, adding a touch of luxury to the dining experience.

The Evolution of the Term “Charger”

The term “charger” originated from the Old French word “chargeour,” which means “to load.” In the context of charger plates, it referred to the act of loading or piling food onto the plate. Charger plates were not meant to be eaten from directly; instead, they served as a foundation for the subsequent courses. This concept of loading or piling food onto the charger plate eventually led to the name we use today.

The Purpose and Significance of Charger Plates

Now that we’ve uncovered the etymology of the term “charger,” let’s explore the purpose and significance of these plates in modern dining settings.

Enhancing the Table Setting

One of the primary reasons for using charger plates is to enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of a table setting. These elegant and decorative plates come in various designs, materials, and colors, allowing hosts to create a visually stunning dining experience. Charger plates can be matched with the theme or color scheme of an event, adding a touch of sophistication and style to the table.

Protecting the Tablecloth or Table

Charger plates also serve a practical purpose by protecting the tablecloth or table surface from spills and stains. The larger size of charger plates helps catch any food or liquid that may accidentally spill during the meal. This not only keeps the table clean but also saves the host from the hassle of continuous cleaning or changing tablecloths.

Defining Individual Place Settings

In formal dining settings, charger plates are often used to define individual place settings. They provide a sense of structure and organization, ensuring that each guest has their designated space at the table. Charger plates are typically placed at the center of each setting, acting as a base for the other dinnerware such as the salad plate, soup bowl, and dinner plate.

Symbolizing Abundance and Hospitality

Throughout history, charger plates have symbolized abundance and hospitality. The large size of the plates and their lavish designs conveyed a sense of opulence and generosity. By using charger plates, hosts could showcase their wealth and demonstrate their willingness to provide a bountiful feast for their guests. Even today, charger plates continue to evoke a sense of luxury and indulgence, making them a popular choice for formal events and special occasions.

Types of Charger Plates

Charger plates come in various materials and designs, allowing hosts to choose the perfect style to complement their table setting. Let’s explore some of the common types of charger plates available:

Classic Metallic Charger Plates

Classic metallic charger plates are reminiscent of the historical origins of charger plates. They are typically crafted from silver, gold, or other metals and feature ornate designs. These plates add a touch of old-world charm to formal dining settings and are often used during elegant events such as weddings or anniversary celebrations.

Glass Charger Plates

Glass charger plates have gained popularity in recent years due to their versatility and contemporary appeal. They come in various shapes, colors, and textures, allowing hosts to create unique and modern table settings. Glass charger plates can be paired with any style of dinnerware, from traditional to minimalist, and add a subtle elegance to the overall presentation.

Acrylic Charger Plates

Acrylic charger plates offer a practical and budget-friendly alternative to traditional materials. They are lightweight, durable, and available in a wide range of colors and patterns. Acrylic charger plates are perfect for outdoor events or casual gatherings where you want to add a pop of color to the table.

Porcelain or Ceramic Charger Plates

Porcelain or ceramic charger plates are popular choices for formal occasions or fine dining establishments. They are known for their delicate craftsmanship, intricate patterns, and luxurious finishes. Porcelain or ceramic charger plates exude sophistication and are often considered heirloom pieces that can be passed down through generations.

Charger Plates: More than Just a Name

In conclusion, charger plates have a fascinating history and serve multiple purposes in modern dining settings. Whether you choose them for their elegance, practicality, or symbolic meaning, charger plates add a touch of refinement to any table. From protecting the tablecloth to defining individual place settings, these decorative plates play an essential role in creating memorable dining experiences. So, the next time you indulge in a formal feast, you’ll know the story behind why they call them charger plates.

Remember to choose charger plates that suit your personal style and the occasion, whether it be a grand wedding reception or an intimate family gathering. With their versatility and beauty, charger plates have earned their place as a timeless addition to the art of dining.

All About Charger Plates for Your Wedding or Formal Dinners

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of the term “charger plates”?

The term “charger plates” originated from the old English word “chargeour” which means “that which is loaded or burdened.” These decorative plates were traditionally used to protect the tablecloth from spills and stains during a formal meal.

What is the purpose of charger plates?

The main purpose of charger plates is to add a decorative and elegant touch to a table setting. They are typically larger than regular dinner plates and are placed underneath the dinner plate. Charger plates are not meant to be used for serving food but rather to enhance the presentation of the meal.

Why are charger plates also called service plates?

Charger plates are sometimes referred to as service plates because they are used as a base for serving dishes. They provide an attractive foundation for various courses and can be easily removed between courses to create a fresh and clean appearance for each new dish.

Are charger plates used in modern dining or are they outdated?

Charger plates are still commonly used in modern dining settings, particularly for formal occasions such as weddings, banquets, and upscale restaurants. While they may not be used as frequently in everyday dining, they continue to be appreciated for their aesthetic appeal and ability to elevate the overall dining experience.

What materials are charger plates typically made of?

Charger plates can be made from various materials, including glass, porcelain, metal, and even plastic. The choice of material depends on personal preference and the desired style or theme of the table setting. Glass and porcelain charger plates are often favored for their elegant and sophisticated look, while metal charger plates can add a touch of modernity or rustic charm.

Final Thoughts

Why do they call them charger plates? Charger plates are often referred to as such because of the original purpose they served. These decorative plates were traditionally used in formal dining settings as a base or “charger” for other dinnerware, such as soup bowls and salad plates. Today, charger plates continue to add elegance and sophistication to table settings, serving as a decorative foundation for the overall presentation. Whether used for special occasions or everyday dining, charger plates enhance the aesthetic appeal of any meal, making them a popular choice for stylish table decor. So, why do they call them charger plates? It’s simply because they charge up your dining experience with elegance and charm.