Toothpicks are made out of birch. Unless they’re made out of plastic and string.
Toothpicks predate humans with evidence of their use dating all the way back to Neanderthals. As humans arrived on the scene the upper class used bejeweled metal instruments while lower classes relied on twigs and porcupine quills.
Charles Forster is credited with being the first American to produce toothpicks for the masses. He started out making them by hand but by 1860 he was using a machine.
At first it was a slow go convincing people to part with precious coin to buy something they had been accustomed to whittling from a nearby bush. Forster took to hiring people to demand toothpicks when they were in restaurants or other public venues. His marketing strategy worked.
There was such a demand that his factory in Strong, Maine could not keep up, which led to competitors springing up alongside. At one time Strong, Maine was the source of over ninety percent of the toothpicks produced in North America earning the town its proud moniker “The Toothpick Capital of the World”. During their peak production period just after WWII over 75 billion toothpicks were being turned out from the towns factories every year.
Forster Manufacturing closed up shop on April 29, 2003 conceding to the popularity of plastic floss sticks and dental floss.
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