The toothpick is a very simple instrument with a simple purpose. We may not give it a second thought as we pick one up, free our teeth from discomfort and unsightly food stays, and then casually toss it away. Love these ten interesting facts about the humble toothpick:
1. Skulls considered to belong to Neanderthals show signs of getting their teeth picked clean by some sort of tool.
2. From the 17th Century, toothpicks used by the upper classes were cherished enough to be made from gold, silver or ivory and a few were even inlaid with precious stones.
3. The state of Maine is the biggest toothpick producer. It is estimated that about 90% of the nation’s toothpicks are made in this state.
4. 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 poison without him knowing.
5. A man named Charles Forster, from Boston, requested Harvard students to eat at a local restaurant and loudly request a toothpick after finishing their meals. Forster hoped this would help him generate a market for the disposable toothpick.
6. This same Charles Forster setup a toothpick factory in Strong, Maine, which made an average of 20 million toothpicks each day.
7. In the 1980’s cinnamon toothpicks became a fad. Kids would soak wooden toothpicks in a bottle of cinnamon oil extract and sell them for a profit. Clients who had bought them could be spotted by a red color left in their mouth.
8. The toothpick is considered this essential that even Swiss Army knives – a popular brand of multi-function tools – have included one in their product.
9. Some people have found other creative applications for the toothpick. A guy named Joe King used 110,000 toothpicks to build a model of the Eiffel Tower – it climbed to 23 feet!
10. Today, if you’re looking for a fashionable and original gift to give someone important, you might want to purchase a pocket toothpick holder – a great way to carry your toothpicks around with you!