Why Do They Put Toothpicks In Burgers?

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Burgers are the perfect comfort food that is loved by all people worldwide. A typical burger consists of a patty placed within two slices of bread buns. Even though the first recipe had the patty made of ground beef, today you can choose from a multitude of recipes today.

Beef, pork, fish, or turkey, truth be told, any meat is accepted for preparing this dish. Or maybe you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Don’t worry, you have options as well.

However, many people nowadays have questions not about their burgers’ actual composition but regarding the toothpick that comes with their order.

What is the aim of this little wood chip? How should you eat your favorite burger or cheeseburger without hurting yourself? What are the excellent manners regarding toothpicks in sandwiches?

Keep on reading to find everything about the history and reasons why restaurants are putting toothpicks in burgers.

Toothpicks History

Toothpicks History
J G Melon

We know a certain thing: the toothpicks can keep your sandwiches well-organized and help you put the burger down without all the ingredients falling apart.

I bet everybody has toothpicks in their homes. These little elements have many uses in the kitchen and also in household activities. Still, their purpose as a tool for picking teeth is very popular among restaurant businesses.

Now, as in many aspects of restaurants’ history, the past of toothpicks is strongly associated with social class.

The shortest version people should know is that using toothpicks was a usual custom among the European elites, and later on, these “tools” were approved in the U.S.

However, when the American working-class adopted the custom of cleaning their teeth with wood chips, they became taboo.

Starting in the late 19th century, when these tools were already common in the United States, some advice columnists railed against them and claimed toothpicks were actually pretty vulgar and disgusting.

While in the early 20th century, they have been the main tool that helped people loosen all those food stocks from their tooth crevices, well, later on, toothpicks have been a symbol for masculinity.

Furthermore, every man got toothpicks in their pockets, essential accessories during lunchtime. As such, it is needless to say that keeping a toothpick in the corner of their mouth made men send a macho signal, exactly how cigarettes would do.

Nowadays, toothpicks are still essential tools after breakfast, lunch, or dinner time, and they can easily be compared to what they meant 100 years ago. Nevertheless, there is a special etiquette regarding using toothpicks when in public, but we are going to discuss eating manners later on.

Top Reasons Why Restaurants Put Toothpicks In Burgers

Top Reasons Why Restaurants Put Toothpicks In Burgers
J G Melon

Usually, when talking about deluxe burgers (1), sit-down restaurants are preferring to pin them with garnishing sticks or toothpicks to keep the sandwich altogether and make them look fancier.

Here are the main reasons why eating places choose to add toothpicks in the middle of your burger:

1. Keeping All The Ingredients Together

Especially when speaking of the American-style burger, which usually contains lots of ingredients, such as meat, pickles, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, bacon, and sauces, this is clear as a huge sandwich.

Imagine yourself trying to bite it and also keep all the elements in place. Seems mission impossible. Well, here comes the purpose of toothpicks: they will keep the burger together not only when the waiter brings it out to the table but also until the first bite.

The long toothpicks break through all the layers, from the large bread bun to the thick-cut vegetables and all the toppings.

2. A sign of distinction

Usually, deluxe burgers, those which are served in high-end restaurants, come with lots of fixings, from the delicious meat bun to cheese and sauces.

The amounts of these ingredients are quite generous, so there is no wonder why some burgers can be up to 6 inches tall or even taller.

More than keeping all these parts together, toothpicks are a sign of elegance or distinction between deluxe burgers and the McDonald’s 2-inch burgers (2), for instance.

The last burgers have a minimum of fixings, so along with the basic bread bun, you will enjoy only some meat and the basic sauces, like ketchup and mustard.

The special burgers, the tall ones, have lots of fixings, so the usage of toothpicks is practical and fancy. It is right to say that toothpicks serve two purposes when it comes to deluxe burgers: practicability and elegance.

3. Marking The Origins of Your Burgers

Yes, you read it right. Maybe you have already seen all those toothpicks with little flags at their top. There is nothing unusual about these little flags, as they mark the type and the origin of that burger’s recipe.

As such, you will see burgers with special ingredients from the United States, Germany, or Italy. The flags will give you just a hint.

4. Add The Delicate Touch

Use the little picks to add that delicate touch to the most delicious sandwiches. For instance, you can use special braided toothpicks to make the burgers look more elegant, more fancy, even if they do not have deluxe ingredients.

How To Eat The Burger With A Toothpick In It?

How To Eat The Burger With A Toothpick In It?
J G Melon

So you are finding yourself in this restaurant, where the waiter brings you a good-looking burger, you cannot wait to devour. Until you see the toothpick right in the middle of your so-waited dinner.

How to approach this situation? Which are the good-manners of eating a burger (3)? Should you immediately take the toothpick out or leave it and start eating all around it?

Well, the answer is simple: it depends. Firstly, it depends on the burger, the size of it, and how unstable it is. Suppose that burger and its ingredients are numerous, and that toothpick is really keeping everything in place.

In that case, you should kinda leave the toothpick until you are sure the sandwich is compact enough.

If the burger is slim enough to grab it and start biting it without all the fixings going out, then removing the toothpick is the first thing you are supposed to do. In this case, this wood or plastic element is only a matter of presentation.


Keep in mind that toothpicks, whether they are plastic, metal, or wood, are sharp elements. Swallowing them can cause harm. Even if the burger is a tall one, if you want to avoid any accident, take it out and ask for cutlery to eat the burger safely.

In a Nutshell…

Toothpicks in burgers are not only fancy elements, but they have a practical purpose. They keep the ingredients together. They can tell more about the original recipe of that sandwich or simply distinguish deluxe burgers from ordinary ones. You can create your own burgers with toothpicks, so here is some inspiration.

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