The cocktail stick: an appreciation

What can one make of the simple cocktail stick?

A sliver of wood, with a sharp point at each end, it can, surely, only have been invented by someone interested in making it into the Guinness Book of Records for the longest splinter on record.

Rumour has it, though, that it first made its appearance in New York around the time cocktails were invented: possible the roaring Twenties, or the wheezing Thirties, maybe even earlier, in the tubercular Teenies. Famously used for the ubiquitous maraschino cherry, it was seen as something to twirl coquettishly while twinkling over your Harvey Wallbanger, or whatever.

Now more commonly used for the humble pickled onion, its star has somehow waned, one suspects. The pickled onion has plenty to commend it – notably the sharp vinegar tang, and the first crunch when you bite into it – but it’s hardly as sophisticated as an exotic cocktail.

Other environments in which the cocktail stick has been spotted include:

1 Stuck in little sausages, or pineapple and cheese at retro Seventies parties
2 Stuck in Oranges, with small sweets skewered upon them, at church Christingle services around Christmas time
3 Er, that’s about it

Possible future uses could include:

1 Providing a cut-price bed of nails for hard-up circus performers
2 A cheap, recession-friendly mini Jack Straws game
3 As toothpicks for the risk-takers among us

A&E departments around the world probably all have tales of casualties admitted with a part or whole cocktail stick jiggling merrily in the internals somewhere, and they’re certainly sharp enough to qualify as javelins for any passing leprechauns.

More recent times have of course brought the plastic cocktail stick – multi-coloured but just as sharp.
If you have any printable experiences to relate involving cocktail sticks – do let me know.

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