Why Do “Tough Guys” Chew Toothpicks?

LACEY-Have you ever met a dude who is just so badass that he just chews toothpicks?  The honest answer is we have no clue.  But throw in a bushy mustache and you have instant “Bad Hombre”.  Or so they would like to think.

We went to the internet to see what people thought about men who chew toothpicks and why they do it.

One logical explanation is that the badasses who chew toothpicks aren’t actually chewing toothpicks, but they have withered down a full log into a tiny toothpick by the time you see them.   Some guys like logs in their mouths.

Here are some of our favorite responses:

It’s actually psychological. They have an oral fixation.

Because it looks gangsta as fuck!

Where I come from we called those people hillbillies.

It’s actually a pretty natural thing to do. At one point, humans cleaned their teeth by chewing sticks and twigs, scraping their teeth with them, etc.

Some say it’s because they’re trying to quit smoking.  Others suggest toothpick grinding is used to calm the nerves of the testosterone-laden lad.

One thing everyone on the internet in a Google search agreed with. Chewing on a toothpick is a signature move of a bad ass, but when did this start.   Toothpick chewing seems to have become popular with boomers in the 1960’s western films.

The history of the toothpick begins with neanderthals as early humans used small twigs to clean their teeth.  Essentially they were the first toothbrushes.

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Toothpicks became a luxury item during the Ancient Roman era, with some being exquisitely crafted out of fine materials such as silver and of course…wood.  In the 17th century, toothpicks became pieces of art, but buy the late 1800’s mass production of wood toothpicks began.  Eventually, the toothpick craze died down, but was semi-resurrected by Sylvester Stallone in the movie Cobra, where he chewed a wooden matchstick instead of a toothpick.

So, while chewing a toothpick may make you like a 60’s western tough guy, especially if you’re a boomer, there’s serious risks associated with munching too much pick.

According to Dentist Janie Bell, munching on pick can be fatal.

“Did you know that more people choke annually on toothpicks than seriously choke on food,” Bell said. “It’s true, and it’s a worrisome trend. People sometimes choke on the toothpick whole, with the points getting stuck in the throat, and other times they choke on a broken part of the toothpick.”

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“If you tend to bite and chew on things you shouldn’t, talk to your dentist and see what they can do to help. Plus, then they can look at your teeth and make sure that they haven’t sustained any type of damage from this potentially dangerous habit,” she added.

The last thing you want on your tombstone is, “Here lies Nick, He died sucking on a stick.”