The toothpick is a simple instrument with a simple purpose. We might not give it a second thought as we pick up one, free our teeth from distress and unsightly food remains, and then casually throw it away. But did you know the toothpick has a colorful history that few people know about?
A significant anthropology finding showed that toothpicks have existed even longer than our own species! Skulls believed to belong to Neanderthals show signs of having their teeth picked clean by some type of tool.
The state of Maine is the biggest toothpick producer. It’s estimated that about 90 percent of the country’s toothpicks are made in this state.
The toothpick has also played a significant part in history. Agathocles, a tyrant of Syracuse, died in 289 B.C. when using his toothpick – an enemy is thought to have soaked it in toxin without him knowing.
A man named Charles Forster, from Boston, requested Harvard students to eat at a nearby restaurant and loudly ask for a toothpick after finishing their meals.
This same Charles Forster set up a toothpick factory in Strong, Maine, which made an average of 20 million toothpicks each day.
From the 1980’s cinnamon toothpicks became a fad. Children would soak wooden toothpicks in a bottle of cinnamon oil extract and sell them for a profit. Clients who had bought them could be seen by a reddish color left in their mouth.
The toothpick is considered this essential that Swiss Army knives a popular brand of multi-function tools – have included one in their merchandise.
Some people have found other creative uses for the toothpick. A man named Joe King used 110,000 toothpicks to build a model of the Eiffel Tower – it rose to 23 feet!
Today, if you’re looking for a stylish and original gift to give someone important, you might want to buy a pocket toothpick holder – a great way to carry your toothpicks around with you!