In the United States, January 3rd marks National Drinking Straw Day. I wouldn't have considered drinking straws as national day candidate. But on the other hand, straws are so ubiquitous in our lives until they have become commonplace and ordinary; we don't think twice about them. And with that realization, I think straws have actually earned a national day of recognition.
Historically, straws have been around since almost the dawn of civilization - no exaggeration. The earliest known straw usage is from ancient Sumerian culture. A tomb dating back to 3000 BCE was found containing a gold tubed straw adorned with blue lapis stone. For several hundred years, Argentina and surrounding areas used bombilla, a metal drinking straw. During the 1800's, rye grass straws were popular, with the obvious downside of not being very durable.
January 3, 1888, Mavin G. Stone was granted the first patent for an artificial drinking straw, thus the national day is recognized on this day. Stone's first incarnation was made by wrapping a pencil with paper, taking the pencil out, and using glue to hold the paper together. The next version was made out of paraffin coated manila paper.
Joseph B. Friedman improved up Stone's original straw after noticing his daughter have difficulty drinking a milkshake. He made the first bendable straw by sticking a screw in the top of a straw, traced grooves with dental floss, then removing the floss and screw, leaving a flexible straw. Friedman founded the Flex-Straw Company in 1939 and started selling the straws to hospitals for patients confined to beds. Mass production of straws started after the second world war due to material costs becoming inexpensive.
Today there are seemingly an infinite amount of different straws available, from whimsical and colorful variations, to edible straws made from sugar, rice, and seaweed. Due to growing environmental concerns, reusable straws on the rise. In some areas and municipalities, plastic straws are being banned. Reusable straws are primarily made from silicone and metal, with metal having drawbacks of thermal conductivity. Biodegradable straws are also an alternative to replace the abundant use of plastic straws.
I suppose the only suitable way to celebrate National Drinking Straw Day is to drink all your favorite beverages using a straw today. That might look weird with beer or wine, but hey it might go viral and start a new trend. 🙂