Basic Science

How the bendy straw was invented | Moments of Vision 12

In a Moment of Vision… It’s the 1930s, San Francisco. Joseph B. Friedman and his young daughter Judith are sitting at the counter in a soda parlor. Judith has just ordered a milkshake. Vanilla or strawberry, we may never know. When the milkshake arrives, Joseph watches as little Judith struggles. Seated on the parlor stool, she is unable to reach the mouth of the striped paper straw protruding from her shake.

Joseph, in a moment of vision, modifies Judith’s straw. He inserts a screw into one end, and using a piece of dental floss, crushes the paper between the threads of the screw creating a series of tiny equidistant corrugations. After removing the screw, the straw is able to bend over the side of the glass and Judith is able to savor her milkshake.

Joseph initially markets the new flexible straw to hospitals to help patients drink while reclining, but eventually, with the marketing and business savvy from his sister Betty, the bendy straw becomes a beloved utensil of every child and a regular household item.

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