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Did you Miss the 50% Off Experience CBD Discount Code in March? Experience CBD launches approximately 2 door-buster discount codes per year. Never miss an important Experience CBD deal by tracking their best new offers in your email using Dealspotr Tracker. The Toothpick Is One of the Few Inventions That Predates Modern Humans. Thanks to the humble toothpick, taking care of your oral hygiene after meals has become somewhat of a ritual. With needle-like precision, it makes removing unseemly pieces of food debris, such as that stubborn sliver of shredded chicken, a thoroughly satisfying task.

The toothpick is one of the few inventions being used today that predates the arrival of modern humans. Fossil evidence of ancient skulls, for instance, suggests that early Neanderthals used tools to pick their teeth. Scientists have also found tooth indentations indicative of teeth picking in human remains among Australian Aborigines, prehistoric Native Americans, and the earliest Egyptians. The practice of teeth picking was not uncommon among early civilizations, too. Mesopotamians used instruments to keep dental crevices clear and artifacts such as toothpicks made out of silver, bronze and various other precious metals that date back to antiquity have also been unearthed. By the Medieval period, carrying a gold or silver toothpick in a fancy case became a way for privileged Europeans to distinguish themselves from commoners. The toothpick wasn’t always quite the lowly, mass-produced and disposable piece of wood that we’ve come to know today. Queen Elizabeth once received six gold toothpicks as a gift and would often showcase them. There’s even an anonymous portrait depicting her as an old woman wearing multiple chains around her neck, from which hung a gold toothpick or a case. Meanwhile, those who couldn’t afford such luxuries resorted to more creative ways of fashioning their own toothpicks. The Romans came up with a particularly clever method of pulling bird feathers, chopping off the quill and sharpening the tip. The technique was passed on to future generations in Europe and eventually carried over to the new world. Over in the Americas, native peoples carved toothpicks from deer bone. Coincidentally, wood was generally considered unsuitable for the purpose of dislodging trapped food bits. Twigs from trees were inadequate because they tended to wear down when wet and had a propensity to splinter, which tended to be problematic. One exception is the mastic gum tree of southern Europe, with the Romans among the first to take advantage of the plant’s pleasant aroma and its teeth whitening properties. With the ubiquity of tooth picking tools across the world, it was only a matter of time before an industry was built around them. As small businesses specializing in toothpick manufacturing began to pop up, demand for toothpicks also grew. The mass production of toothpicks can be traced to the Mondego River Valley in Portugal. It was there, in the small municipality of Coimbra, that the 16 th century nuns of the Mos-teiro de Lorvão monastery began making toothpicks as a disposable utensil for picking up sticky confections that tended to leave residue on fingers and teeth. Locals eventually picked up the tradition, using only the finest orangewood and a jackknife to handcraft the toothpicks. The region would over time earn a reputation as the world capital of the toothpick industry where the finest toothpicks were made. Orders soon came in from all over Europe and shipment were sent out as far overseas as the Americas. The Portuguese were especially renowned for a special type of cocktail tooth called “palitos especiales” distinct for their carved involutes and curly shafts. In the U.S., some vendors seek to mimic the classy, festive aesthetic with toothpicks topped with colored cellophane. The American entrepreneur Charles Forster was particularly impressed by the high quality of the toothpicks in South America. While working in Brazil, he noticed that the locals often had impeccable teeth and credited it to the use of imported toothpicks from Portugal. Inspired by fellow American Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant’s shoe-making machine, Forster got to work on building something similar that would be capable of mass-producing millions of toothpicks a day.

While he was ultimately able to come up with the goods, Americans simply weren’t interested. Part of the problem was that Americans were already accustomed to whittling their own toothpicks and doling out cash for something that can easily make themselves made little sense at the time.

What was needed was a sea change in ingrained lifestyle habits and attitudes if there was any hope of generating demand. Forster just so happened to be crazy enough to take on such a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Some of the unusual marketing tactics he employed included hiring students to pose as store customers seeking toothpicks and instructing Harvard students to ask for them whenever they dined at restaurants.

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