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In 1888, The Paper Drinking Straw Was Patented

drinking straw

On January 3, 1888, Marvin C. Stone received Patent # US375962 A, for the paper drinking straw.  In acknowledgment of that invention, each year on January 3, people across the nation observe National Drinking Straw Day. Later, Stone further refined his invention by building a machine that would coat the outside of the paper with wax to hold it together, so the glue wouldn’t dissolve in the Bourbon he liked to drink.

It is believed the very first drinking straws were used by the Sumerians for drinking beer.  Archeologists speculate they used the straws to avoid the solid byproducts of fermentation that would have sunk to the bottom.  The oldest drinking straw known to be in existence was found in a Sumerian tomb dated 3,000 B.C.E.  This found straw was a gold tube inlaid with a precious blue stone.

Neighbors to the Sumerians, the Argentines used a similar metallic device called a bombilla.  Used for hundreds of years, the bombilla acted as both a straw and a sieve.

Today, manufacturers make a variety of reusable straws.  From stainless steel and glass to bamboo and silicone, they not only save money and the environment but they are also fun to use.  They come in a variety of creative shapes and colors.

  • Initially rye grass was used as straw because it was cheap and soft. It  had the tendency to turn to mush in liquid and got mixed with the drink, giving it a grassy taste.
  • Marvin Stone, who patented the modern drinking straw, made of paper, came upon the idea while drinking on a hot day in Washington, D.C.
  • Drinking straws are said to lower the incidence of tooth decay caused by acids in beverages such as carbonated drinks, as they channel the drink more directly into the throat, bypassing more teeth.
  • In the U.S., 500 million straws a day, are used ! That is enough straw waste to wrap the circumference of the earth 2.5 times or to fill Yankee Stadium over 9 times in a year!
  • Interestingly, straws cannot be recycled. Plastic straws are made from polypropylene, which is a byproduct of petroleum, a fossil fuel that requires an incredible amount of energy and natural resources to extract and refine.


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