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The "Maine" Reason to Pick Your Teeth



The "Maine" Reason to Pick Your Teeth
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.83

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    Dixfield, double-pointed, orangewood, toothpick-making, trainloads, veneer, mass-produce, best, tactics, monopoly, emperor, producer, storeowners, production, bearing, dating
     content words:    United States, Charles Forster, Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant, Mark Twain, Toothpick Capital, Dixfield Toothpick Company, Diamond Brands


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The "Maine" Reason to Pick Your Teeth
By Joyce Furstenau
  

1     When was the last time you ate a meal and something got stuck between your teeth? Have you ever eaten corn on the cob? A kernel of corn can feel like a giant boulder between your teeth. A toothpick comes in handy to remove that irritating little wedge. It seems like the simplest tool, yet a lot of effort goes into manufacturing the toothpick.
 
2     A toothpick is a small stick of wood, plastic, bamboo, metal, or other substance used to remove food and debris from the teeth, usually after a meal. Maine was once the leading producer of wooden toothpicks for the United States.
 
3     Toothpicks have a very long history. History tells us that the Roman emperor Nero had a golden toothpick. Fossilized teeth dating back to the Neanderthal man show grooves made from some ancient form of toothpick. Toothpicks have been made from gold, silver, and ivory. Some were even inlaid with precious stones. The earliest were probably made from a stalk or twig. These twigs were often chewed until the ends were frayed to form a sort of toothbrush called a "chew stick."
 
4     By the medieval times, Portugal was using orangewood to make handmade toothpicks. Their toothpicks were thought to have been the best in the world. By the 19th century, the Portuguese traditions in making toothpicks had traveled across the ocean to Brazil where an American named Charles Forster was visiting. He noticed Brazilian natives making toothpicks for the locals. He sent a sample box to his wife, who was living in Boston, as a souvenir. Forster believed he could bring the toothpick back to America and mass-produce it.
 
5     Mrs. Forster shared her gift with a few local citizens, and soon Charles Forster began receiving orders while still in Brazil for boxes of toothpicks. He filled several orders himself and then decided to return home and begin manufacturing toothpicks.

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