The paper drinking straw was invented by Marvin Stone. U.S. patent granted January 3, 1888.
Before Stone’s straw, people literally drank from straws — straws from rye stalks. But these straws affected the taste of drinks — drinks tasted like grass.
Stone worked in factory that made paper wrappers for cigarettes. One day he took one of the papers from the factory, wrapped it around a pencil, coated it with paraffin to keep it from leaking and getting waterlogged. Voila: a new “straw” was invented.
Marvin Stone lived in Washington DC. He died in 1898.
Joseph Friedman enhanced drinking straw construction by adding scores that make it easy to bend the straw. U.S.patent granted September 28, 1937.
There are also plastic drinking straws now. Here’s a fascinating video showing how they are made: