You can pick your teeth, and you can pick your friends, but...
November 1, 2007 7:14 AM   Subscribe

-Hold stick near centre of its length.
-Moisten pointed end in mouth.
-Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum.
-Use gentle in-out motion.
posted by Mach5 at 7:20 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

See, this is the kind of thing that makes the five bucks to join Metafilter seem cheap. Well done.
posted by wittgenstein at 7:25 AM on November 1, 2007

From what I've read (New York Times?), the Toothpick is no Cod.
posted by stbalbach at 7:39 AM on November 1, 2007

Oh man, Petroski. He finds all the interesting aspects of seemingly-inconsequential things and makes them tedious. I keep trying his books because I should love them, but they only work as soporifics.
posted by DU at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2007

This is genius.. Great Post!
posted by the_epicurean at 7:55 AM on November 1, 2007

ADD and hyperfocus not included.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:01 AM on November 1, 2007

"The toothpick was first used in the United States at the Union Oyster House...the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the U.S."*
posted by ericb at 8:02 AM on November 1, 2007

DU--I almost disagree. I like most of his books, even Paperboy.

However, 400+ pages about the toothpick, including biographies of the boring 19th-century inventors and businessmen who automated toothpick manufacture--it's dull dull dull. And mildly gross.
posted by hexatron at 8:05 AM on November 1, 2007

Does anyone still use toothpicks for picking food out of their teeth? Anyone? Because I thought they were just to see if the cake in the oven is done.

Neat post, thanks.
posted by bassjump at 8:06 AM on November 1, 2007

Also functions, apparently, as one of American literature's great maguffins.
posted by sy at 8:18 AM on November 1, 2007

In Canada we use toothpicks to cure dents.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:32 AM on November 1, 2007

The New York Times review by Joe Queenan of Petroski's book is one of the funniest reviews I've read in a long time.
posted by Sculthorpe at 8:34 AM on November 1, 2007

Great, now people are sticking up for Petroski, which means I'll have to try one of his books again (based on the subject and approach, I should totally love them!), which means I'll fall asleep while simultaneously reading and walking and get run over in a crosswalk.
posted by DU at 8:55 AM on November 1, 2007

Wow. That's an amazingly absurd review, Sculthorpe.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:57 AM on November 1, 2007

Does anyone still use toothpicks for picking food out of their teeth?

Er, yes. I often find myself after a meal lacking access to a WaterPik. Indeed I long for a stylish and very small (5-10 picks at most) pocketable toothpick case or tube, so that I might excuse myself from table briefly, to discreetly remove unsightly bits and bobs of meal from my sadly deteriorating oral cavity. The Doctor's BrushPicks are my favorite. Their small plastic dispensing tube is nearly the right container, but it is cheaply made and tends to open up in one's pocket, admitting lint.
posted by cairnish at 8:58 AM on November 1, 2007

Does anyone still use toothpicks for picking food out of their teeth?

Uh, yeah. I, like cairnish, wish I could find a small and elegant toothpick holder to carry around as the gap in my gums where my wisdom tooth used to be requires that I use a toothpick after every snack/meal.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:31 AM on November 1, 2007

I, too, use a toothpick.
Only because I discovered that people would look askance when I'd floss at the table.
posted by Floydd at 9:44 AM on November 1, 2007

Because I am freakin' MacGyver, I used a toothpick to pick a lock once.

posted by quin at 10:01 AM on November 1, 2007

I love toothpicks. I'm always hunting for some as I am leaving a resturaunt.

I not only use toothpicks to pick my teeth, I find myself using it to scrape plaque from the sides of my teeth. I usually continue to 'play' with it in my mouth and suck on it for a good while too.
posted by Sprocket at 10:12 AM on November 1, 2007

It doesn't look like anybody picked up that Douglas Adams reference, Mach5....
posted by DreamerFi at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2007

I like the cinnamon ones.
posted by hellphish at 11:24 AM on November 1, 2007

I use toothpicks to scrape between keyboard keys, and remove accumulated hair, cat fur, and godnosewat.
I drag the drek to where the caps-lock key was before I removed it.
posted by hexatron at 11:40 AM on November 1, 2007

I love floss - carry some in my purse, keep some at my desk- and hate toothpicks. The wooden texture in my teeth bugs me. Oooh I also love the little plastic cocktail swords. I always keep them and then forget until I find them broken in my wallet.

I can't wait to try that little star trick! Thanks, Xurando!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:59 PM on November 1, 2007

Pietroski's book inspired the solution to one of the great mysteries of Henry James scholarship! The purported solution, anyway.

And yes, that Joe Queenan review is fantastic. I am really sick of all these books like Cod and Salt that analyze a trivial topic into the ground. Margaret Visser did it long ago, and she dedicated the appropriate length to her topics.
posted by painquale at 1:02 PM on November 1, 2007

I always thought that being caught out in public with a toothpick in your mouth reduces your IQ by 20%.
posted by doctorschlock at 2:33 PM on November 1, 2007

I have IQ to spare. (Not really.) The same is true for gum, which is why I put the gum on a toothpick, like an olive.
posted by cairnish at 3:59 PM on November 1, 2007

Yes, you can use a burning or charred toothpick to create microwave oven ball lightning, but it's significantly inferior to carbon fiber veil.

Gratuitous Self Link.
posted by Tube at 4:28 PM on November 1, 2007

It's no Ginsu.
posted by dasheekeejones at 5:07 PM on November 1, 2007

That's great, but could it do anything about this piece of popcorn stuck between my teeth?

posted by Citizen Premier at 9:12 PM on November 1, 2007

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