On this day in 1872, “society” in America took a great leap forward. It was natural, of course. This year was the fulcrum of America’s “Gilded Age”. Ward McAllister was in the process of inventing “the 400”, a crème de la crème of American society. (The number was 400 because that was the capacity of the Grand Ballroom at the mansion of Mrs. Astor, McAllister’s patron.)
Now, if you’re going to be looking down your Lorgnette at the Irish serving girl between courses and find something stuck in your teeth – – what shall you do. Fear Not! Necessity is truly the mother of invention. Ballrooms filled with the delicate but dentally challenged would soon get help.
Enter Messrs. Silas Nobel and James P. Cooley. These paragons of good taste arrived at the patent office on this day and got a patent on – – the toothpick.
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