The Invention Of The Humble Straw: Reeds, Cigars, And Milkshakes

By | January 7, 2020

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Colorful plastic straws: One of our oldest eating utensils. (Photo by JOKER / Walter G. Allgöwer/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Until a year or so ago, you probably never gave any consideration to your drinking straw. It was just there, providing you with a simple tool to transport the liquid in your cup to your mouth without the onerous burden of moving. In the past few years, however, you may have heard the alarming news that disposable plastic straws are filling the oceans and killing adorable sea turtles. We're thinking about the future of drinking straws now more than ever before, but have you thought about their past? In case you haven't, here is a brief history of the humble straw.

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Ancient engraving showing Sumerians using drinking straws. (

Archeologists Have Unearthed Ancient Drinking Straws

It might seem like a uniquely modern product, but drinking straws were invented at least 5,000 years ago. In some ancient Sumerian tombs, archaeologists have found drinking straws made out of gold and lapis lazuli. It seems the ancient Sumerians were eco-friendly (and lazy) long before we were.