Who Invented the Toothpick?

invented-toothpick Credit: Andre Deak/Moment/Getty Images

No single person is credited with the invention of the toothpick. Grooves on the teeth of Neanderthal and Homo sapiens skulls suggest that they used a tool to remove materials from their teeth. Charles Forster was the first to mass produce toothpicks for the American market in the mid-19th century.

Forster discovered the orange wood splints, first made by Portuguese nuns in the 16th century, while working in Brazil. He returned home and enlisted the help of Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant to devise a method of mass producing toothpicks. Forster later acquired the patent and rights from Sturtevant and moved his fledgling company to Maine, chosen for its supply of white birch.