Plastic straws seem like pretty simple products, right? But an inventor near Atlanta has come up with an interesting new version that prevents a common problem -- juice squirting out the end of the straw when you insert it into a juice box or pouch. By the way, don't you hate it when that happens? Somehow the straw always seem to be aimed at my shirt. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a story about Robert Stribling of Between, Ga., who came up with the clever straw.
The basic idea was simple enough: add a valve to the top of the straw that would permit liquid to rise only when drawn by mouth. The bottom part of the straw looks like the others, long and straight. But the top, the piece that goes into the mouth, is different. The tricky part of Stribling's innovation -- the part that's required years of planning, engineering, manufacturing research and testing for safety and functionality -- is the material that goes into that mouthpiece. It's liquid silicon rubber, an inert, engineered resin made from sand that thus far has had mostly medical and automotive applications. Stribling has deals to produce the material and to design and assemble the machinery to make the straws.Stribling's company, The Last Straw LLC, hasn't made him a million bucks -- yet. According to the story, he's looking for a beverage company willing to give his straw a try.