Return of the Swizzle Stick

I stumbled on a box of swizzle sticks in an antique store, and couldn't resist. I bought the whole case! One part whimsy, one part advertising, swizzle sticks are an important piece of culinary history.

For the uninitiated, swizzle sticks are the ultimate travel souvenir. Riffling through my box, there are swizzle sticks from Maine to Hawaii. According to this LA Times article, the hit TV show Mad Men is sparking a return of these pop icons. Cheers to that!

And now, for a bit of swizzle stick history:

It was a practical invention, born out of necessity. How do you fish an olive out of your glass, without sticking your fingers in? Enter...the swizzle stick!

In 1934, Jay Sindler designed a spear to wrangle the olive, and added a paddle at top for advertising. You see, "after the repeal of prohibition, drinking establishments wanted their names and addresses out in public. Swizzle sticks conveyed the information and were cheaper than a book of printed matches and cheaper still than the vanishing ashtrays that also boasted printed logos. Sindler was granted his patent on Feb. 19, 1935."

Genius, no?

Seventy-five years later, Sindler's company, Spir-it Inc., is still in business. I'm a fan of their custom molded designs and would kill for this Chinese dragon swizzle stick (apparently it's discontinued):