History of Drinking Straws

Marvin Stone patented the spiral winding process to make paper drinking straws.

Two sisters drinking with straws from same glass, side view, close-up
Jose Luis Pelaez/Iconica/ Getty Images

In 1888, Marvin Stone patented the spiral winding process to manufacture the first paper drinking straws. Stone was already a manufacturer of paper cigarette holders. His idea was to make paper drinking straws. Before his straws, beverage drinkers were using the natural rye grass straws.

Making Drinking Staws

Stone made his prototype straw by winding strips of paper around a pencil and gluing it together.
He then experimented with paraffin-coated manila paper, so the straws would not become soggy while someone was drinking. Marvin Stone decided the ideal straw was 8 1/2-inches long with a diameter just wide enough to prevent things like lemon seeds from being lodged in the tube.

Stone Straw Corporation

The product was patented on January the 3rd, 1888. By 1890, his factory was producing more straws than cigarette holders. In 1906, the first machine was invented by the Stone's "Stone Straw Corporation" to machine-wind straws, ending the hand-winding process. Later other kinds of spiral-wound paper and non-paper products were made.

Impact on Other Industries

In 1928, electrical engineers began to use spiral-wound tubes in the first mass produced radios. All made by the same process invented by Stone. Spiral-wound tubing is now found everywhere -- in electric motors, electrical apparatus, electronic devices, electronic components, aerospace, textile, automotive, fuses, batteries, transformers, pyrotechnics, medical packaging, product protection, and packaging applications.

Bendy Straws

Bendable straws, articulated straws, or bendy straws have a concertina-type hinge near the top for bending the straw into a more favorable angle for sipping.
Joseph Friedman invented the bendy straw in 1937.
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Bellis, Mary. "History of Drinking Straws." ThoughtCo, Jun. 9, 2014, thoughtco.com/history-of-drinking-straws-1992399. Bellis, Mary. (2014, June 9). History of Drinking Straws. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-drinking-straws-1992399 Bellis, Mary. "History of Drinking Straws." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-drinking-straws-1992399 (accessed May 25, 2018).