The Last Straw
It may not break the camel’s back, but a straw can really take you back.
A lot of people will argue that beverages taste better out of a glass container or over ice, and there is a lot of science that goes into the shape of a container to maximize aroma or flavor. But one thing that’s clear – drinks are always more fun with a straw.
Nothing is more seemingly bland than a simple straw, yet it’s loaded with nostalgia. From its candy-striped appearance it takes us back to childhood when a straw meant a sweet treat. (Maybe medicine wouldn’t need a spoonful of sugar if taken with a striped straw instead?) Straws are associated with old time soda fountains, and you don’t even need to have ever experienced one of those to know the feel-good fun-time nostalgia that they conjure up.
Not all straws are equal, however, and there’s a hierarchy of fun when it comes to sippers. At the top, you have Crazy Straws, made out of rigid plastic and formed into complicated loop-de-loops so that every sip is a roller coaster ride. These were the holy grail of straws for many of us – seen on TV but rarely available at home. A more attainable treasure is the Bendy Straw, so called for the concertina hinge near the top. Not only do bendy straws make terrific “brrrrap” sound when you stretch them out, they allow you to turn anything into a submarine.
At the bottom of the hierarchy are Paper Straws. Paper straws aren’t seen much at all today, but they are not without their charms. They were already terribly old-fashioned when I started kindergarten, where they served us our mid-morning chocolate milk snack in tiny cartons with paper straws. The paper straws the school used were coated in wax, and you really had to be careful how much suction you applied. One big suck and the straw would flatten irreparably. The school gave out one straw per chocolate milk, so if you flattened yours you just had to drink straight out of the carton, which always seemed so sad compared with the thought of a straw.
Of course, those paper straws had one advantage over the others: they could provide their own ammo as a pea shooter. Since they were paper, you could easily rip off one end and tear it into small projectiles to use with the rest of the straw. And if those pieces were soaked in a little chocolate milk, all the better.
So serve up a beverage to your inner child next time, and don’t forget the straw.