Marvin Stone, a manufacturer of paper cigarette holders, created drinking straws in 1888, according to Steven Caney's "Invention Book". Stone, who had a factory in Washington, D.C., enjoyed visiting a tavern after work for his usual drink, a chilled mint julep.

Because mint juleps lose their flavor when warmed, people drank them through natural grass straws so they wouldn't have to touch the glass. Unfortunately, the natural straws - often cut from rye - tended to make the drink taste like grass.

Stone saw a connection between the process for making his cigarette holders and making a paper-wound, artifical drinking straw. Spurred on by the prospect of a better - tasting mint julep, he started winding long strips of paper around a pencil and fastening the loose end with a dab of glue. Soon other patrons wanted to try his paper tube straws for their mint juleps.

Reasoning that people would enjoy drinking lemonade through a straw, too, Stone designed an 8 1/2-inch paper straw with a diameter just wide enough to prevent a lemon seed from lodging in the tube. He used a paraffin - coated manila paper so the straw wouldn't become soggy when put into liquids.

Stone patented his straw, and by 1890 most of the employees at the Stone Cigarette Holder Factory were winding artificial straws.

In 1906, eight years after Stone's death, the first machine - made drinking straws were manufactured with a steam - powered engine.

From Richard A. Norris / Buffalo News / buffalo Magazine / Oct. 13, 1985..