National Drinking Straw Day
annually on January 3rd
On January 3, 1888, the first artificial drinking straw was patented, giving us a reason to celebrate straws today. Marvin Chester Stone of Washington D.C. had been drinking a mint julep when his natural straw, a rye reed, began shedding into his drink. Instead of accepting this common occurrence like everyone else, he decided to do something about it. First he created a straw by winding paper around a pencil and holding it together with glue. He improved this by making a straw out of paraffin-coated manila paper, and this is the drinking straw he patented.
The first natural straws are believed to date to about 3000 BCE. A seal found in a Sumerian tomb from that timeframe shows two men using straws to drink what looks to be beer from a jar. A tube made of gold that looks to be a drinking straw was also found in the tomb. For centuries, Argentinians have drank mate by using metal straws called bombillas.
One of the main improvements to Stone's straw patent was done by Joseph B. Friedman. He noticed his young daughter was having a hard time drinking her milkshake, and decided to make a bendable straw. Friedman stuck a screw in the top of a straw and traced its grooves with dental floss. Once he removed the floss and screw, the bendy straw was born. Friedman founded the Flex-Straw Company in 1939, and his company first started selling the straws to hospitals, for use by bedridden patients. There have been other changes to straws over the years, such as the creation of "crazy straws" that twist and turn, but these changes have all built upon Marvin Stone's original patent, which we celebrate today.
How to Observe National Drinking Straw Day
Celebrate the day by using a straw whenever you drink liquids. Use a straight straw, a bendy straw, or a straw that twists and turns. If you want to know what it was like before the invention of the modern straw, plant some reeds and grow your own straws.