Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 3, 2011


January 3, 1888: Marvin Stone of Washington, D.C. patents the drinking straw. Straws were first used in ancient Sumeria around 3100 BC in order to fully enjoy the new drink – beer. The oldest picture of a straw is on the seal at the Sumerian city of Ur where two men are pictured drinking beer from a single crock using straws. The elite, wealthy people of ancient times had straws made of gold or lapis-lazuli.

Marvin wasn’t drinking beer. Instead, after work Marvin enjoyed a nice refreshing Mint Julep. These drinks taste even better when cold and using a straw kept the drink at the correct temperature. At the time, straws were natural tubes such as rye grass. Unfortunately, the taste of rye grass ruined the flavor of the drink. Marvin already owned a factory that made paper cigarette holders. He used the same premise to create a paper straw.

Marvin’s straws were 8.5 inches long and just wide enough so that lemon seeds were too large to pass through, because lemonade was another favorite drink of the time. Marvin created his first straws by winding a strip of paper around a pencil and gluing the ends to hold it in place. Paper straws would become soggy, so he next used paraffin coated manila paper. Within two years, his plant was manufacturing more drinking straws than cigarette holders.

Finally in 1906, a machine was developed that would wind the papers. Until that time, all straws were made by hand. Today, straws are usually made of some type of plastic. They can be straight or have a portion that bends at one end. There are “crazy straws” that are rigid and bent into a variety of shapes. Today, Marvin’s wound, spiral method is used in the manufacture of many other objects in the field of electronics, textiles, automotives, and many others.

“The idea is to sip and savor a drink or two.” – Katherine Tallmadge

“I drink when I have occasion, and sometimes when I have no occasion.” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.” – Humphrey Bogart

“Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.” – G. K. Chesterton

Also on this day:
Tokugawa Shogunate – In 1868, the Tokugawa shogunate ended.
Falkland Islands – In 1833, the Falklands came under British rule


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