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A Brief History of How Drinking Straws Took Over the World

YijunW CA, United States 0 Ratings 134 Discussions 0 Group posts

Posted by: YijunW

A Brief History of Drinking Straws Taking Over the World


Even though the plastic straw is a modern invention, humans have been using small pipes to drink liquids through a combination of muscular actions with help from atmospheric pressure for centuries. According to Derek Thompson's paper "The Amazing History and the Strange Invention of the Bendy Straw," the first ever known staws were made for drinking beer by Sumerians, who had lived in the earliest known civilization in southern Mesopotamia (now known as southern Iraq) dated 5000 Before the Common Era. The oldest drinking straw evidence, discovered in a Sumerian tomb dated 3000 B.C.E., was a tube made from gold and a deep blue precious metamorphic rock lapis.

In the nineteenth century, the ryegrass straw became the mainstream. It was soft to use and affordable to make. However, it was easy to fall apart in liquid. In the 1880s, Marvin Chester Stone, a paper cigarette manufacturer, used his ryegrass straw to sip a mint julep at his home off 9th Street in Washington, D.C. However, his straw disintegrated in the drink. That incident was what made him be considered the godfather of the straw-- he decided to reinvent the straws. Stone build a machine to wind paper into a cylindrical shape and coat the outside with a paraffin wax to prevent the meltdown in bear. He patented the product in 1888, becoming the first straw patentee. By 1890, his factory Stone Industrial mass manufactured the paper straws. Stone's company still exists today as part of Precision Products Group, a tube, paper straw and drug labeling company.

In the 1930s, straws were redesigned to bend. Joseph B. Friedman was sitting in his brother's store, watching his little daughter Judith fuss over a milkshake. Friedman created a straw that could bend around its grooves to reach a child's face over the edge of a glass. This is how the current bendy straw was born. In 1939, Friedman founded Flex-Straw Company, manufacturing flex-straws with his self-built machines. His first client was the hospital, where children in bed could drink. His invention turned him into a multi-millionaire.

To read more, please visit:
"The Amazing History and the Strange Invention of the Bendy Straw" Archived April 28, 2017, at the Wayback Machine., Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, November 22, 2011. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/11/the-amazing-history-and-the-strange-invention-of-the-bendy-straw/248923/
http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/nature/a-brief-history-of-how-plastic-straws-took-over-the-world.aspx

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