An Inventive Dad

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about how being a parent requires you to be inventive. I thought I’d share with you the story of Joseph B. Friedman and the product — ubiquitous to you and me — that his daughter inspired him to invent.

Pencil sketch of flexible drinking straw, no date. Photo from the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History.

Friedman was with his daughter, Judith, at his brother’s soda fountain. Judith had ordered a milkshake and was struggling to drink it through a straight paper straw, the only straw option at this point in the 1930s. Having an inventive bent, Friedman was able to alter the straw by inserting a screw and wrapping dental floss around the screw thread. This created corrugations, allowing the straw to bend over the lip of the glass and Judith to more easily drink her milkshake. He was granted a patent for this — the Flexible Drinking Straw — on September 28, 1937. (Read more about Friedman, his other inventions, and how his papers came to the Archives Center.)


If you’ve got a story about how being a parent has inspired you to be inventive, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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