Morgan’s Drug Store

Lisbon, Ohio, Ohio | C.1915

Photo Credit: Jodi Dudek

For a century, Morgan’s Drug Store was a staple of the community of Lisbon, Ohio. Founded just before prohibition by William Morgan, it split its tenure with the Snyder family, before recently shuttering its doors.

For its long run in the heart of Lisbon, Morgan’s helped thousands of locals find relief to their pains, but it was arguably most adored during Prohibition. As bars closed off their taps, Americans had to look elsewhere for a place to socialize…and at least pretend to drink. Seeing an increase in parched patrons, drug stores seized on the opportunity to make some extra cash by installing soda fountains–which led to an opportune moment to reimagine the drinking straw.

Right here in Lisbon is where the first patent for a “drinking tube” machine was drafted, by the local duo H.J. Britton and H.W. Morrow. Straws had technically been around for centuries, but were made from rye grass, which left a bitter aftertaste that ruined the experience of slurping up a sweet drink.

To remove the bitterness associated with the straws of the time, Britton and Morrow used an unconventional material:, chewing gum. Soon realizing the hefty wad of cash it would take to produce that much gum, they settled for a cheaper manila paper prototype.

Designed to decrease backwash, the top end of the straw was pinched, allowing drinkers to enjoy their favorite beverage without any unwanted extras flowing back into the cup. That early incarnation of the modernized drinking straw would have been available at Morgan’s Drug Store, accompanying the cool drinks of thirsty patrons. Although the store has closed, the dedicated community of Lisbon are currently making arrangements to preserve the building, even if its inventory, straws and all, are a thing of the past.

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