The toothpick is a simple instrument with a simple purpose. We might not give it a second thought as we pick one up, free our teeth from discomfort and unsightly food remains, and then casually toss 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 been around even longer than our own species! Skulls showed signs of having their teeth picked clean by some sort of tool.
In the 17th Century, toothpicks used by the upper classes were cherished enough to be made from gold, silver or ivory and some were even inlaid with precious stones.
In the 1980’s cinnamon toothpicks became a trend. Kids would soak wooden toothpicks in a bottle of cinnamon oil extract and sell them for a profit. Customers who had bought them could be spotted by a red color left in their mouth.
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.
The American state of Maine is the biggest toothpick producer. It is estimated that about 90% of the country’s toothpicks are made in this state.