Dutch Quirk #31: Be strangely obsessed with toothpicks

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #31: Be strangely obsessed with toothpicks

Strange toilets, cheese obsessions, and mushy dinner food. The Dutch certainly have their fair share of odd little quirks…but toothpicks? 

Now that’s something we didn’t see coming.

What is it?

Ah, the elegant and humble wooden toothpick, what is it exactly? 🤔

Believe it or not, toothpicks are actually the oldest invention used for dental care, even predating toothbrushes, floss, and mouth rinse.

They’ve become such a natural part of oral hygiene that no one really thinks about the humble toothpick anymore. A nasty bit of food stuck between two teeth? The toothpick is the way to go. 

But for the Dutch, it’s not just a ritual — it’s a way of life!

Ordinary dental floss? It’s a ‘no’ for Dutch dentists. Image: Depositphotos

Why do they do it?

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come across tandenstokers (toothpicks) hiding in the least likely places of my Dutch family’s home. 

On the dinner table, the kitchen top counter, and in every side pocket of my mother’s handbag — you’re bound to find toothpicks at some point in time.

Dutch people are obsessed with them to the point that tandartsen will even prescribe you wooden toothpicks instead of the plastic, dental-approved ones more commonly used in other countries.

But why does the fine Dutch populace use toothpicks as much as they do?

We don’t really have a logical answer, except for Dutchies will be Dutchies, amirite? 😉

Why is it quirky? 

Toothpick hanging from the corner of the mouth? It’s just not it. Image: Depositphotos

Well, it’s just that we don’t really get it? Toothpicks are not THAT great after all. For one, they always break. (Especially the ones Dutch dentists recommend.)

And what’s worse, many even think to reuse toothpicks! Hey, if you’re going to use them as often as you do, it’s definitely better for the environment — but still, yuck? 🤢

Also, remember those hunky scenes from the old classic films, where gangsters or grandfathers would casually let toothpicks hang from the corners of their mouths?

Well, this has apparently resonated powerfully with the Dutch to the point that you’ll probably find one or two Dutchies on the street (we’re looking at you, guys 👀) who just keep that thing dangling in their mouth the whole day.

Are you Chris Hemsworth? Yes? Then hot. No? Then we’re probably neutral about it. 😛

Should you join in? 

It’s certainly hygienic, and your dentist will probably be happy if you use them as often as the Dutch do.

Sometimes it can help to be living in a land full of toothpick junkies.

Especially if you’ve got a wad of dastardly spinach stuck between your teeth, you can just ask a Dutchie for a toothpick! 😌

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:depositphotos
Gaelle Salem
Gaelle Salem
Born and raised on the island of Sint Maarten, Gaelle moved to the Netherlands in 2018 to attend university. Still trying to survive the erratic Dutch wind and rain, she has taken up the hobby of buying a new umbrella every month. You can probably find her in the centre of The Hague appreciating the Dutch architecture with a coffee in one hand and a slice of appeltaart in the other.



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