The drinking straw is a device used for transferring a liquid - usually a drink from one location to another (such as from a cup, to your mouth). The earliest drinking straws were hollow stems of grass, literally made of straw. A thin tube of plastic (such as polypropylene and polystyrene) or other material, straight or with an accordion-like living hinge, it is employed by being held with one end in the mouth and another end in the drink. Muscular action reduces air pressure in the mouth, whereupon atmospheric pressure forces the drink up the straw. The first straws were made by the Sumerians, and used for drinking beer (as to avoid the solid byproducts of fermentation). Argentines and their neighbors use a similar metallic device called bombilla that acts as both a straw and sieve for drinking mate tea. The modern drinking straw was patented in 1888 by Marvin C. Stone.
Early paper straws had a narrow bore similar to that of the grass stems then in common use. It was common to use two of them, to reduce the effort needed to take each sip. Modern plastic straws are made with a larger bore, so only one is needed for comfortable drinking.
One particular advantage of using a straw when drinking is the reduction of tooth decay. Many soft drinks have acidic properties, and using a straw reduces the liquid contact with the teeth, reducing tooth decay and the risk of cavities.
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