An Indian Civilizational Perspective

A simple Toothpick and its innovation!

Sometimes the most harmless and simple things take a lot of innovation from people to create. Who would have thought that a simple toothpick requires a lot of effort on design and technique from best minds to make it work and improve. From the medieval times to the modern times, it has had an interesting journey!

The plain wooden toothpick is among the sim­plest of manufactured things. It consists of a single part, made of a single material, and is intended for a single purpose, from which it takes its name. But simple things do not necessarily come easily, and the story of the mass-produced toothpick is one of preparation, inspiration, invention, marketing, competition, success and failure in a global econ­omy, and changing social customs and cultural values. In short, the story of the toothpick is a par­adigm for American manufacturing.

Early wooden toothpicks were found objects, each fashioned ad hoc from a broken twig or stalk with a pointed end. Often, the other end of the twig was chewed until its fibers separated to form a primitive toothbrush called a chew-stick. Some cultures, like the Japanese, developed rigid rules about how such sticks were held and used.

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