Since he was a young child creating airplanes and landing strips with Legos, Harold Hogarth has used his mind and his gift for building outside the box to create helpful inventions.
“I’m a natural. I can go into a factory, see how it works and go into my garage and build it,” said Hogarth, who credits his father for a lot of this talent. “I make a lot of the stuff and I have stuff made for me locally.”
His first invention came in high school. “I was a kicker for the football team, and I could never get anyone to go out and hold (the football) for me to practice,” said Hogarth. So Hogarth, who grew up in California, decided he would figure out a way to create a product that would hold the football for him. In 1969, at the young age of 17, Hogarth brought his idea to the toy company Mattel. While the company was very nice, and told him his invention was wonderful, they passed on the idea. Mattel executives explained to Hogarth that the company made mostly dolls and his product would only sell a few thousand.
“They told me to come back if I ever re-invented the spoon or fork, because I would definitely have something there,” said Hogarth.
Over the years, Hogarth has created many inventions. “If I find a need or I see a need, I will try to make it…some have been very good, and some very bad,” said Hogarth.
Hogarth had a problem with frogs getting stuck in his pool filter. Instead of looking for a product online, Hogarth attacked the problem on his own—with a speaker grill. He cut and painted a speaker grill to cover the filter which allowed the water to still flow through to the filter, and it also provided a stepping stone for the frogs to free themselves if they got stuck.
One of his most important inventions, however, came after a phone call from his father. On July 17, 2013 Hogarth received a phone call from his 93-year-old father, also named Harold Hogarth. His father’s hands were crippled, he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and he was unable to feed himself. “He told me I really needed to come up with a spoon or fork so I can feed myself,” said Hogarth. “He said when you can’t feed yourself, it’s time to check out.”
Hogarth’s father passed away just three days later. It was the start of a new invention that had more meaning and passion than the rest. Hogarth wrestled with different ideas and designs for eating utensils for a couple of years. He was working at a foundation at the time, and didn’t have the funds to create the product. So, he contacted some high school friends from California and asked if they wanted to work together to develop this unique eating utensil. His friends jumped at the chance and they formed a corporation—Eat-Rite Utensils.
The group of entrepreneurs enlisted the help of occupational therapists at Delmar Gardens to create a design that would be functional for older residents who had difficulty feeding themselves due to arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke.
“They were really a part of the design mechanism to get it right for those people in need,” said Hogarth. “They helped us get the right angles and grips on the utensils…they were really good working with me.”
Hogarth and his buddies were able to come up with several different designs of Eat-Rite Utensils. The Eat-Rite SN-1 was designed for adults who are re-learning how to feed themselves through rehabilitation. According to its website, the SN-1 Adapted Utensil Set features a 45- degree bend in the shaft of the utensil and a single hexagon shaped finger hole to lock in fingers during use, which will prevent the utensil from spinning or slipping.
“We tried to make it as natural as possible; for the last 50 to 70 years they have been eating the same way. Our (utensils) have several ways to hold it to get it to work,” said Hogarth. The SN-2 allows the individual to “hold” the utensil without the need to grip it. Designed to place the hand in a natural downward position, it enables individuals with grip-related challenges to eat normally. Hogarth said the product brings dignity back to those who are physically challenged and allows for more independence.
“When you can’t feed yourself, you don’t want to be spoon-fed like a baby,” said Hogarth. For those who cannot bend their fingers the Eat-Rite SN-3 Adapted Utensil allows the person to “hold” the utensil while the fingers are in a forward position. “If you can’t move your fingers it slides right onto the hand and you can still feed yourself,” said Hogarth.
Each one of the special-needs utensils also has a detachable wrist band to keep the utensil from falling to the floor, as well as to provide support and stability for the hand.
While eating in a local restaurant, Hogarth came up with another market for the special utensils—children. After watching a child across the restaurant repeatedly throw his silverware on the ground, he decided to expand the collection to include utensils for the child learning to eat. The special utensils help children adapt to eating properly with a regular fork and spoon when older. His first customer was his four-year-old granddaughter, who took to the utensil quickly.
The children’s version of the Eat-Rite Utensil was a life-changing product for a Las Vegas grandmother. Cindy Parrish has a four-year-old grandson with Down syndrome. When she found the Eat-Rite Utensil online she had to try it for his upcoming visit. With a short window of time before her grandson Brycen arrived, Parrish contacted the company to see how fast the item could be shipped.
“One of the manager’s lived in Las Vegas and he just dropped it off at my house—with no charge,” said Parrish. Brycen used the utensil to feed himself for the first time. “We’re not to cereal yet, but he’s so proud of himself,” said Parrish. “It’s hard to resist feeding him.” His coordination became so much better with the utensil that he has graduated from the special tool and uses a regular spoon now.
“I so appreciate the company and how they went the extra mile to accommodate me,” said Parrish. “I am more than thrilled with the result…this was life altering for him. I hope everyone learns about this life-altering utensil.”
For more information about the company, or to order an Eat-Rite Utensil visit www.eat-rite.us.