Sip Sip Hooray! It’s National Drinking Straw Day

What do Stonehenge and drinking straws have in common?

They’re both over 5,000 years old – and now we honor this achievement with a day dedicated to the straw. January 3rd is National Drinking Straw Day. We’re going to celebrate with a look back at the history of one of the oldest utensils.

The first-known drinking straw was discovered in a Sumerian tomb that dated back to 3000 BCE, the same year archaeologists estimate Stonehenge was built.

This straw was made of gold and decorated with blue stones. It is believed that straws similar to this one were utilized by the Sumerians to drink beer and help avoid the solid byproducts of fermentation.

In the 1800s, Marvin C. Stone decided to make his own drinking accessory after he noticed the popular ryegrass straws of the time would break down in his drink. He wrapped strips of paper around a pencil and glued them together. When dry, he would remove the pencil and voila, the first paper straw.  After making improvements to the original’s durability by using paraffin-coated Manila paper, he patented the design in 1888. Thus, what we know as the modern-day drinking straw was born.

The next improvement to the drinking straw didn’t occur until the 1930s. While watching his daughter struggle to drink a milkshake from a large glass with a straight drinking straw, Joseph Friedman decided to place a screw into the straw and wrap dental floss around the edges. After removing the screw, the bendy straw was born and patented in 1937.

Paper straws ruled most of the next three decades, but began to fizzle out around the 1970s when the plastic straw gained momentum as a more durable product.

The new era of plastic straws brought with it a wide variety of drinking devices. From straws bent and twisted into anyone’s name to straws that filter out pollutants, there’s no doubt that this is one fun utensil that’s not going away anytime soon.

 

Hillary Terhune