The French fork is a style of beard named not for its country of origin, but for the eating utensil which it is said to resemble. Supposedly, the original forks used in France consisted of only two prongs, so a beard divided into two segments below the chin line is, today, called a French fork beard.
The style has been around for centuries, predating the cutlery by many years. It is highly debatable when the fork was introduced into European dining halls, and probably didn’t originate in France at all. The innovation has been claimed by Italy, the Roman Empire, Spain, and various other principalities. And it may not have originally had simply two prongs, but may, in fact, have been a sort of small trident. But a three-pronged beard would not look as distinguished, I suppose. About the only country not claiming the invention of the fork in western Europe is England, which may seem a bit strange given the fact that the first Viking King of England was Sweyn Forkbeard, so named because of his facial hair.
There are images of a forked style beard being sported in ancient India and Arabia, so it would seem that the style predated the utensil. The French fork beard, though waning in popularity for years, has experienced a bit of a resurgence due to the popularity of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, in which Captain Jack Sparrow sports a French fork beard, twisted into braids. Brad Pitt even tried one, without the braids and beads, to create a more relaxed, bohemian image.
The French fork style of beard is simply a full beard, grown to a length of three to seven inches, according to personal preference, and divided down the middle below the chin. The beard can be of a full and bushy type, with each side veering dramatically to the left or right, or a more subtle variety, with each well-groomed tendril sedately falling from the chin. Beads and braids are, of course, optional.