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 stays, and then casually throw it away. But did you know that the toothpick has a colorful history that few people know about?
1. Skulls believed to belong to Neanderthals show signs of getting their teeth picked clean by some sort of tool.
2. In the 17th Century, toothpicks used by the upper classes were precious enough to be made from gold, silver or ivory and some were inlaid with precious stones.
3. The American state of Maine is the biggest toothpick producer. It’s estimated that about 90% of the nation’s toothpicks are created in this state.
4. The toothpick has also played an important part in history. Agathocles, a tyrant of Syracuse, died in 289 B.C. when utilizing his toothpick – an enemy is thought to have soaked it in poison without him knowing.
5. A man named Charles Forster, from Boston, asked Harvard students to eat at a nearby restaurant and loudly request a toothpick after finishing their meals.
6. This exact same Charles Forster set up a toothpick factory in Strong, Maine, which made an average of 20 million toothpicks each day.
7. Children would soak wooden toothpicks in a jar of cinnamon oil infusion and sell them for a profit. Clients who had purchased them could be seen by a red color left in their mouth.
8. The toothpick is considered such an 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 utilized 110,000 toothpicks to construct a model of the Eiffel Tower – it rose to 23 feet!
10. 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!