Can you imagine drinking a milkshake without a straw? Or how anyone would manage a juice box? How many soft drinks would you have spilled on yourself in dark movie theaters if it weren’t for straws? I think we can all agree drinking straws have changed our lives for the better enough to deserve their own holiday, and that’s exactly what Drinking Straw day is about: celebrating the invention and patenting of the (paraffin-covered) paper drinking straw!
The History of Drinking Straw Day
The straws man ever used were made by the Sumerians, and were probably most often used for drinking beer, which at that time contained many solid byproducts of the fermentation process. Thousands of years later, in the 1800s, the rye grass straw became popular because it was cheap and soft. Unfortunately, it also had the tendency to turn to mush in liquid. One day, while drinking a mint julep, inventor Marvin C. Stone became especially frustrated by straws’ shortcomings, as the taste of the rye mixed with that of his drink, giving it a grassy taste. He then patented the modern drinking straw in 1888. The first straw Stone made was just paper wound around a pencil to make a thin tube, and he then slid out pencil out from one end and applied glue between the strips. This was already a great improvement on the rye grass straw, as it did not impart any flavor onto the drink being consumed. Stone later further refined his invention by building a machine that would coat the outside of the paper with wax to hold it together, so the glue wouldn’t dissolve in the Bourbon he liked to drink.
How to Celebrate Drinking Straw Day
One way to celebrate Drinking Straw Day would be to spend the entire day drinking all liquids via straws—your morning orange juice, afternoon mineral water, you evening wine and so on. One thing to watch out for here, however, is the fact that sucking any liquid into your mouth via a straw heats the liquid up by a few degrees, and that’s why hot drinks, such as coffee or tea, should not be drunk using straws, as that could lead to scalding your mouth.
Another great way to celebrate this holiday would be to learn to make the drink that that inspired Marvin Stone to create a new kind of straw in the first place: the mint julep. Then, sit back, sipping your drink through a straw and be grateful it does not taste like rye grass! Cheers to Marvin C. Stone, ladies and gentlemen!
Mint Julep Recipe
Ingredients: (makes 2 cocktails)
- 10 mint sprigs
- 1 ounce simple syrup OR 4 sugar cubes OR 4 teaspoons of sugar
- 5 ounces of your favorite bourbon whiskey
- Mint sprigs for garnish
Place half of the mint and simple syrup or sugar into one special julep cup, or double old-fashioned glass, and the other half of the mint and sugar/syrup into another. Muddle the mint well with a spoon to dissolve the sugar and to release the oil and aroma of the mint. Pour half of the bourbon into one glass, and the rest into the other. Then, fill both glasses with crushed ice and stir quite energetically, until the glass becomes frosty. Garnish with the mint sprigs and enjoy!