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Don't get him started on modern potato chip bags.

Opinion: There Was A Time You Could Remove The Paper From A Drinking Straw With Just A Jab On The Table

OPINION BY HENRY L. OGLETHORPE – You younger folks won’t believe me, but when I was your age, the paper on drinking straws was loose enough that you could hold it in one hand and give it a little thump, then the straw would poke through the paper and the paper would crumple down to where you could remove the straw.

It was a different era, an age of pragmatic product design centered around the consumer’s experience. Things just seemed to work better, including packaging for things like drinking straws. Instead, we have a modern travesty in which the paper is too tight. Is it that expensive that we cannot spare an extra eighth of an inch in circumference around the straw?

Once upon a yesteryear, this was a simple activity.

Nowadays, a thirsty diner patron is as likely to break the straw as remove the paper. I have, myself, gone through upwards of three straws attempting to strip the paper the “old fashioned” way. As anyone of my generation or before well knows, once the straw has been bent beyond a certain point it creates a small rupture in the plastic, allowing a stream of air into the beverage.

You might argue that one can still consume the beverage even with a compromised straw, but it also introduces a diminished quality of enjoyment. You also can’t finish the drink without a lot of unnecessary slurping. No, sir. I, for one, am not willing to accept such a state of things. A state of things in which each of us has to tussle with the paper using both hands, ripping the whole thing into a jumble of pieces.

I have, myself, gone through upwards of three straws attempting to strip the paper the “old fashioned” way.

I won’t even get into the loss of simple pleasures such as using the wrinkled paper around the end of the straw as a projectile. Crinkling the paper into a tightly collapsed coil that, when doused with a drop of water, would grow slowly into a little paper snake.

I have drafted letters of complaint to the manufacturers of said straws, but do not know where to send them because they are all apparently on the internet now and no longer have brick and mortar addresses. If you should happen across such an address, you can find me most mornings at the Plum Ridge Diner, where they still serve coffee in coffee cups.


H.L. Oglethorpe is a retired engineer and professional curmudgeon. 

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