Pick Me Up! --- The History Of Toothpicks

toothpicks
@MALUSE (32699)
Denmark
April 21, 2017 1:31pm CST
Toothpicks are the oldest devices for tooth care. *STOP!* Make a guess, how old? When some anthropologists were cleaning a tooth found in Tanzania, dating back as far as 1.8 million years (you didn‘t guess that, did you?), they found some strange grooves in it, tiny, parallel lines that repeated along the sides of the tooth. They guessed they'd found (from the net) " . . . early traces of toothpick use. . . the hominids may have used pieces of bone, or grit on a stick may have caused the grooves.” Toothpicks aren’t only the oldest device for tooth care, the use of toothpicks is also one of the features which distinguishes human beings from animals. It’s a behaviour unique to our genus. Modern-day apes don't use toothpicks although they’ve been recorded using sticks as tools in other ways. Why would our ancestors in their caves pick their teeth in front of the fire? It’s believed that toothpick use became common about the same time meat turned up in the diet of the early hominids. Do I see veggies turn away? Wait! Just remember your last meal with tomato sauce, what did you do when you discovered some tomato pips had got stuck in your teeth? Did you pull faces and produce vulgar sucking noises in order to get them out or did you take a toothpick, cover your mouth with one hand while using it with the other as is the polite way to deal with lodged fragments of food? Supposedly, the toothpick was first used in the U.S. at the Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in Boston, opened in 1826. I’m sure you want to know that 90% of the country’s wooden toothpick supply is produced in Maine. A certain Mr Charles Forster of Maine first imported the picks from South America and to promote his new business he hired Harvard boys to dine in his restaurant and ask for toothpicks. In 1872 a toothpick-making machine was patented in the USA, it converted a block of wood into toothpicks. How many toothpicks can be made from a cord of wood (a cord = 128 cubic feet / 3.62 cubic metres)? *STOP!* Make a guess! Sorry, wrong again, the answer is 7.5 million! Toothpicks aren’t only made of wood. In 1832 Monsieur Soyez, a Frenchman who raised geese to produce downs for pillows and blankets and fine quality writing instruments had an inspiration: he used a sanitised goose quill he had sharpened to clean his teeth and thus invented a device which, according to his devoted followers, has made the wooden toothpick quite inadequate. Soon the demand exceeded the availability of goose quills. With the invention of high impact plastics, an even better way was found to make ‘quill’ toothpicks. The plastic variety is more durable and retains its fine cleaning qualities even with much use. In our times over one million ‘Cure-dents’ are passed out each day at the Soyez factory in France. Any other materials? In 1882 a Joseph Mayer opened a store, saloon and stagecoach station near Phoenix, Arizona, where he sold green-horn tourists cactus thorns he claimed were genuine Indian toothpicks. I’ve got a flat silver toothpick in my wallet and whenever I feel like picking, I take it out discreetly. --- Photo: pixabay
26 people like this
30 responses
@Corbin5 (81435)
• United States
21 Apr
You have one very fancy toothpick!! I do like the wooden toothpicks that are mint-flavored. Was hoping this vegetarian would be free from toothpick use, but eating popcorn often requires a toothpick when a kernel shell becomes lodged between the teeth.
7 people like this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
21 Apr
My fancy toothpick wasn't expensive. It certainly looks posh. :-)
3 people like this
@Corbin5 (81435)
• United States
21 Apr
2 people like this
@nanette64 (13692)
• Fairfield, Texas
22 Apr
I hate that @Corbin5 but it's 10x's worse when the popcorn shell lodges underneath the denture.
2 people like this
@andriaperry (32984)
• Anniston, Alabama
21 Apr
I love the description " produce vulgar sucking noises " I have a bridge and I tend to do that when I am alone
6 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
21 Apr
Me too
2 people like this
@pigeboy (177)
21 Apr
Wow that's a lot more than I ever knew about toothpicks! I did expect that the oldest toothpicks would be slivers of bone or maybe wood.
4 people like this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
21 Apr
You never know when this information will come handy. ;-)
3 people like this
@dragon54u (31340)
• United States
21 Apr
Interesting! I figured that early humans used toothpicks made of splinters because eventually all that food between teeth would become painful and/or irritating. But I did not know toothpicks were manufactured so long ago! I also use toothpicks when I cover cake/cupcakes with plastic to prevent the plastic sticking to the icing. I test if a cake is done with a toothpick before taking it out of the oven. I used to use toothpicks to spread glue on tiny little crafty stuff and draw designs with glue that I would cover in glitter. They have a lot of uses!
4 people like this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
21 Apr
Indeed they do! What would the world be like without them? :-)
4 people like this
@Ronrybs (7133)
• London, England
21 Apr
I was going to say the year dot, so that is about 1.8 million years ago! I guess toothpicks are our first tools
4 people like this
@amadeo (47812)
• United States
21 Apr
I only use toothpick to check out my cake to see if it is done.LOL
3 people like this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
21 Apr
One of the many uses of toothpicks! :-)
2 people like this
@amadeo (47812)
• United States
21 Apr
@MALUSE that is correct there.Lot of them use it for cheese,olives,cherry,etc.Many uses for them. The history here some I did not know.Thank you
2 people like this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
21 Apr
@amadeo You're welcome.
2 people like this
@jstory07 (58304)
• Roseburg, Oregon
21 Apr
I did not know any of the history of toothpicks. They are amazing.
3 people like this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
21 Apr
You can now show off with this knowledge! :-)
3 people like this
@jstory07 (58304)
• Roseburg, Oregon
21 Apr
@MALUSE Yes I can.
2 people like this
@Happy2BeMe (70157)
• Canada
21 Apr
Very interesting and very informative. I didn't know any of this. We always have tooth picks on hand.
3 people like this
@nomus24g (16430)
• India
21 Apr
Hmm...very interesting read
3 people like this
@Platespinner (18477)
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
21 Apr
Interesting trivia!
2 people like this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
21 Apr
Who knows when it will come handy. :-)
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12525)
• Northampton, England
21 Apr
I'm a flosser not a picker.
2 people like this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
21 Apr
The two activities don't exclude each other. Flossing should be done regularly. Toothpicks are only used occasionally.
2 people like this
@Nawsheen (22862)
• Mauritius
22 Apr
Thank you for sharing. I am just wondering about the cactus toothpick. Is it safe for use.
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
22 Apr
What?
2 people like this
@Nawsheen (22862)
• Mauritius
22 Apr
@MALUSE i meant to say if the cactus thorns ''toothpicks'' are safe to use
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
22 Apr
@Nawsheen Of course, they're safe. They're just a bunch of normal toothpicks made of wood. They're standing in a glass container.
2 people like this
@silvermist (15823)
• India
22 Apr
https://www.google.co.in/search?q=Earpick+combined+with+tooth+pick
@MALUSE,Quite informative.When I was a kid I have come across a toothpick and ear cleaner set in steel.These days the same is available(together or separately) made in in silver or gold .It is always better when they are separate.
1 person likes this
@valmnz (13136)
• New Zealand
23 Apr
You've unearthed some interesting information here. And as you also own a silver toothpick, I now pronounce you Queen of the Toothpicks. Wonderful that you could make the subject so interesting!
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
23 Apr
Thanks for the compliment!
2 people like this
@Tampa_girl7 (21621)
• United States
21 Apr
I have also seen toothpicks made out of plastic.
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (32699)
• Denmark
21 Apr
Wood is better.
1 person likes this
@SIMPLYD (75303)
• Philippines
24 Apr
Really, there is a flat silver toothpick. I thought all toothpicks are just made of woods that are disposable the moment you used them.
1 person likes this
@Shavkat (46646)
• Philippines
22 Apr
That's a well-detailed origin of toothpick.
1 person likes this
@allknowing (55708)
• India
22 Apr
There is always fascinating history we find no matter what it is and so finding history for toothpicks was no surprise.
1 person likes this
• Rochester, New York
21 Apr
When i was younger i used to buy the tooth picks that had a cinnamon flavor to them. I loved those!
1 person likes this
@KrauseHome (33368)
• United States
21 Apr
Interesting knowledge here. Things I would have never known
1 person likes this