Sunday, March 4, 2012
Although most folks (at least those of a certain age) probably associate straws with old-time soda fountains, these sipping devices actually had their start in a Washington, DC tavern.
It happened one day in 1888, when Marvin Stone, the owner of a company that made paper cigarette holders, stopped in to enjoy an after-work mint julep. Because juleps lose their flavor when they're warm, people drank them through straws so they didn't have to touch the glass with their hands. In those days, straws were cut from natural grasses, generally rye, which tended to give the drink a distinct grassy taste.
Mr. Stone, deciding that he'd had one grass-flavored julep too many, began building a better straw by winding long strips of paper around a pencil and fastening the end with a dab of glue. Before long, other julep-lovers started asking him to make these unflavoured straws for them, too. And by 1890, the Stone Cigarette Holder Company was turning out a lot more straws than cigarette holders.