OK, when was the last time you got a soft drink and were given a paper straw to drink it with? Thought so. You can’t remember can you? These days all straws are plastic, but I remember the time that whenever you were given a drink as a child, you also got a paper straw to sup it up with.
The good old paper straw was made from a single strip of waxed paper wound in a spiral, to produce a narrow tube that was perfect for sucking up your Ribena whilst avoiding the dreaded purple smile effect, where the blackcurranty goodness stained the corners of your mouth when drinking straight from a glass. This was important if you didn’t want to incur the wrath of your Mum with her handkerchief with some spit on it…
The biggest problem with the paper straw was that younger kids had a tendancy to chew the end. A plastic straw may be able to take this beating for a while, but a paper straw would become useless with just one bite from a youngsters teeth.
Surprisingly, the humble paper drinking straw was first patented back in 1888 by Marvin Stone, who ran a company that made tobacco papers. His straws proved popular, and before long he was making more money from that side of the business than the cigarette manufacturing side!
You can still buy paper drinking straws today from a company called Aardvark, so any eco-friendly restaurant owners may want to consider them when they next stock up on straws!