Tongs are food-handling implements. To be clear, there are many different types of tongs that can be used for a variety of purposes. The premise is the same whether it's blacksmithing tongs, driller's tongs, crucible tongs, or culinary tongs: it's a tool that may be used to grip and lift items, acting as a substitute for the human hand.
The Egyptians are said to have invented the first pair of tongs, which were made of wood at first and subsequently progressed to bronze bars, closer to how we know them now, as early as 3000 BC. A crucible is supported between two metal bars in an Egyptian wall painting from 1450, as is someone holding a thing over a fire with a tong-like tool.
Yes, that's a good history lesson, but it also goes to demonstrate how important this technology is to our existence as people in ways we don't realize. How often do you hear someone wax poetic about the noble tong's virtues? It doesn't happen very frequently, which is why we have to do it here.
Since we originally refined the tong, the basic design has remained mostly unchanged. It is typically formed of two stainless steel (or plastic) arms joined at one end by a rivet hinge and enlarging into scalloped grabbers at the other. A metal spring regulates the opening and closing operations, and there may be a locking mechanism as well as some silicone or rubber accents.
Despite the fact that this form is so common, the feel of tongs may differ greatly. Some tongs are rigid, while others are unsteady; some tongs have safe and secure locking mechanisms, while others have weaker locks. Some might actually pinch the skin when used, while others are incredibly pleasant. It covers a broader spectrum than you may think. After all, they're just tongs, aren't they?
Nowadays, you can go into almost any commercial kitchen and observe expert chefs using several sets of tongs as a second pair of hands. And the explanation is simple: tongs are useful because they guard against high heat. An excellent set of tongs may help you manage anything that would burn your hands if you grabbed it with your bare hands.
Tongs should be able to grab, move, lift, flip, and jiggle most meals, whether they are vegetables, noodles from a pot of boiling water, or a thick piece of meat fresh off the grill. Of course, if you're holding a delicate piece of meat, such as a piece of fish, the tongs' grasp may cause it to split apart.
Tongs are designed to make cooking easier (by providing a rapid way to handle hot food), safer (by insulating your hands from high temperatures), and more pleasurable overall. They can be used to flip hot food in a pan or to operate cookware (for example, grabbing the lid off a hot pot). They are also useful when presenting meals.