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VIRAL DEBATE: Have we been using bendy straws wrong all this time?

By AYIE LICSI Published Jun 24, 2022 8:30 pm Updated Jun 24, 2022 10:35 pm

Remember in 2015 when the internet was torn over whether the dress was actually white and gold? Fast forward seven years later and the online sphere sparks another intellectual debate: have we been using the bendy straw wrong all this time?

The discussion began after a tweet went viral on the two ways to use bendy straws on juice cartons. The first, which is allegedly the wrong way, pictured the traditional way one would use a straw, with the long end inserted. The "correct" way showed the short bendy, end inserted first instead.

So the argument for why you flipping the straw is better is that it's more efficient for getting every last drop of juice, especially from the box's hard-to-reach places like its corners. This way, you won't have to put in the extra effort to tilt or squeeze the carton to do so.

The Twitterverse was split with their verdict with some users saying it does work better while others did the math to disprove the method.

One user posted a video experimenting with the straw. Unfortunately, their bendy straw sunk inside the carton when they inserted the short end first.

Another netizen questioned how the bendy straw would fare if it suddenly fell into an angle where it wouldn't be able to reach the juice.

Some asserted that the traditional way is the right way because the long end has a pointy edge to pierce through the seal. They also noted that the ridged bend was designed to ensure the straw doesn't fall into the box easily.

We at PhilSTAR L!fe did some experimenting, too, and asked engineers about their take on the flipped straw.

In my trials of the "correct" way, the straw also almost sunk inside the carton if I didn't stop it. It was kind of awkward drinking from a short straw and I found myself still having to tilt the box to get the milk to the corner where the straw is.

Civil engineer Katrina Follosco of MASFINO Trade and Construction explained that this is likely to happen because "the short end does not reach the bottom of the box. It won't be perpendicular to the surface."

"In fact, it is still by inserting the long end into the box that you'll be able to reach the bottom surface," she continued. "In this way, you'll be able to position the straw diagonally and reach every corner of the box. Lesser rin ang travel ng liquid."

Meanwhile, electronics and communications engineer Dominic Benedictos told L!fe, "Sa inverted na straw, need mo pa rin i-tilt yung juice box to get the last bit of juice. This is also possible in the normal configuration kasi may give naman yung hole."

He also noted that having the short end inserted first is less ergonomic and you'll have to take the straw head on compared to having the bendy part towards your mouth, as it was designed to be.

Bendy straw origins

The bendy straw was first invented in the 1930s by Joseph B. Friedman who came up with the idea after watching his daughter struggle to drink a milkshake out of a straight paper straw at the counter.

He took the straw and inserted a screw, wrapping dental floss around the paper into the screw threads to create corrugations. He then removed the screw allowing the paper straw to bend over the glass. 

So the straw was initially designed to have people drinking out of the shorter end.

At the end of the day, you can use the straw however you want—whether that's upside down, right side up, or better yet, no straw altogether. Single-use plastic straws are harmful to the environment as they end up in our oceans.