Created By: Lumpenprole on April 1, 2014 Last Edited By: Lumpenprole on June 16, 2014
Troped

Trees Into Toothpicks

Destroying trees for incredibly frivolous or wasteful purposes.

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Page Type:
Trope
Toothpicks, matches, ice cream sticks, paper products, etc. are in Real Life made from easily replaceable pulp-grade softwood. It would be unfathomably wasteful to harvest virgin timber solely to obtain wood for, example, toothpick making. Even more so to use an entire tree for a single toothpick. So naturally works of comedy depict just such a process for its absurdity. Sometimes done for laughs, other times as a Green Aesop.

A Super Trope of this would be any ridiculously wasteful product or manufacturing process.


Examples

Advertising
  • An ad for Hillshire Farms Lil' Smokies once featured Richard Karn carving a single toothpick out of a four foot 4 X 4 timber. He mentions that there's going to be a party. Cue a semi loaded with similar structural timbers.

Comic Books
  • In an Archie Comics "Gag Bag" strip, Archie's dad Fred is whittling down a piece of mahogany wood to make a table, but keeps screwing up and settles for something smaller. At the end:
    Archie's mom: How many people have a mahogany toothpick?
  • An early issue of MAD featured a parody of Robinson Crusoe in which he felled a tree, worked it into planks and planed down a large block of wood just to make a single toothpick.

Live-Action TV

Newspaper Comics
  • One ''Brevity'' strip has a toothpick, in the last moments of its life, mourn how it was once an 800-year-old tree.

Video Games
  • Abe and Munch bankrupt several Magog Cartel businesses over the course of Munch's Oddysee, one of which is Splinterz Manufacturing, a logging-and-toothpick-manufacturing venture.
  • In The Simpsons Game, Mr. Burns wants to cut down every tree in Springfield, and turn each into luxury toothpicks.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • The Dudley Do-Right short "Stokey The Bear", which opens with lumberjacks seeking to fill a rush order for toothpicks.
  • In the Foghorn Leghorn short ''Henhouse Henery", a pursued Foghorn chops down a tree and lathes the log down to a baseball bat (only to have Dawg snatch it away from him).
  • On Littlest Pet Shop (2012), Fisher Biskit uses an entire pine tree to make one drop of pine scent for pet shampoo.
  • "Lumber Jerks", a Looney Tunes cartoon starring the Goofy Gophers, depicting an automated lumber-processing plant that used a giant pencil sharpener to turn logs into a single toothpick each.
  • In S1E6 of Pepper Ann, the "Sani-Paper" company makes toilet seat covers from a single tree each.
  • A King Features Popeye short "Spare Dat Tree" in which he battles lumberjack Brutus to prevent him felling 5000-year old redwoods for toothpicks.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the "And Maggie Makes Three", Homer wonders what happens to bowling pins after they get swept away. It turns out an automated assembly line throws out the used pins and makes new ones out of one fully-grown tree each.
    • In "Lisa the Tree Hugger", the logging rights for the Oldest Redwood in Springfield are sold for $100,000 to make a drive-through humidor. One of the other bidders is a restaurateur who wants to turn it into Thai takeout menus.
  • Tabaluga: When the former Big Bad, Arktos, is forced to do some good for others for a change, he decides to do this by starting to sell ice cream (his Trademark Favorite Food) to the people of Greenland. The problem is, Arktos thinks the ice cream sticks should be made of only of the best wood in a tree, thus for every tree there's produced only a single ice cream stick. This results in Arktos causing a natural catastrophe in the form of deforestation.
  • The Tiny Toon Adventures segment "Jungle Bungle" (likely a reference to "Lumber Jerks") had a giant -scorpion-shaped robot that harvested trees and processes them into a single elevator button. The rest of the tree is burned to power the robot so it can cut down another tree.

Real Life
  • Giant Sequoias actually were felled for reasons as frivolous as toothpicks and matchsticks. The wood from mature trees is far too fibrous for most building purposes, and breaking them down to scrap sizes was seen as the easiest way to harvest them. A general outcry in the mid 20thC eventually brought an end to this practice, but far too late for many of the giant trees.
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • April 1, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Western Animation

    EDIT: Namespaced the examples + did some other formatting.
  • April 1, 2014
    CrypticMirror
    Truth In Television: Giant Sequoias actually were felled for reasons as frivolous as toothpicks and matchsticks. The wood from mature trees is far too fibrous for most building purposes, and breaking them down to scrap sizes was seen as the easiest way to harvest them. A general outcry in the mid 20thC eventually brought an end to this practice, but far too late for many of the giant trees.
  • April 1, 2014
    Astaroth
    • Abe and Munch bankrupt several Magog Cartel businesses over the course of Munch's Oddysee, one of which is Splinterz Manufacturing, a logging-and-toothpick-manufacturing venture.
  • April 1, 2014
    Alvin
    Seeing the title made me think of a cartoon (not named yet) in which automation whittles down a tree to a toothpick, and another machine puts it in a box with other toothpicka, don't remember the name though.
  • April 1, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    (This works with other tiny pieces of wood products, right?)

    • In the episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 "Boggy Creek II: and the Legend Continues...", Servo starts mass producing whittling sticks by cutting down rainforests.

    • In The Simpsons Game, Mr. Burns wants to cut down every tree in Springfield, and turn each into luxury toothpicks.
  • April 1, 2014
    Lavalyte
    • There's a Disney cartoon depicting trees being chopped down into logs, processed into sawdust then reconstituted into the same logs to be used for firewood.
  • April 1, 2014
    MercenX
    There was a classic cartoon which had "innovations of the future" including a giant machine that cut down trees and funneled them into a lathe so they could be carved down into toothpicks.
  • April 1, 2014
    randomsurfer
    While there seem to be a surprisingly large number of just this toothpicks version, I suggest broadening the trope to any instance of hyper-wasteful manufacturing. Such as...

    • In a Parody Commercial on Saturday Night Live we see an ad for disposable, one-time-use toilets. Changing them out is explained as a "simple" process (even though it isn't) and the Happy Suburban Couple who use the product have seemingly hundreds in their garbage area. After installing one, the husband wipes his brow with a paper towel and throws it in the toilet, flushing it. The couple give each other a happily knowing look as they realize that they have to change the toilet again.
  • April 1, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    ^^, ^^^, ^^^^^ "Lumber Jerks" starring the Goofy Gophers (Loony Tunes), although others may have done it too.

  • April 1, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    ^^ While ice cream sticks and whittling sticks are close enough, other hyper-wasteful manufacturing would be a supertrope of this.
  • April 1, 2014
    Lakija
    Dude I totally forgot about this trope.

    ^^^ 100% agreed. I would say expand this bad boy to include the production of any insignificant object through incredibly wasteful means. Make it a super duper trope.
  • April 2, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Mebbe... any other non-toothpick examples? Also, considering changing name to "Trees Into Toothpicks"
  • April 2, 2014
    woddor
    In a Happy Tree Friends episode, Lumpy destroys an entire tree for one toothpick.
  • April 2, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ Tropes Are Flexible. Just add the other examples.
  • April 10, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    One-week bump. Any further interest in this?

  • April 10, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    • One Brevity strip has a toothpick, in the last moments of its life, mourn how it was once a 3000-year-old tree.
  • April 10, 2014
    Tiiba
    In an episode of Pepper Ann, a redwood was turned into a toilet seat cover.
  • May 14, 2014
    Westrim
    bump
  • May 14, 2014
    Arivne
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
    • Examples section formatting
      • Changed media section titles(s) to our standard style.
      • Blue Linked media section titles(s).
    • Blue Linked (supertrope x2).
    • Corrected spelling (catastrophy).
    • Namespaced and italicized work name(s).
  • May 14, 2014
    EponymousKid
    I've seen this in a few distinctly non-toothpick contexts, I'd rather "Ridiculously Wasteful Manufacturing" or some such as the title.

    In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer wonders what happens to bowling pins after they get swept away. It turns out an automated assembly line throws out the used pins and makes new ones out of one fully-grown tree each.
  • May 14, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Broadened laconic and description to other wasteful uses of trees.
  • May 14, 2014
    Daefaroth
    Western Animation:
    • One episode of Tiny Toon Adventures (likely a reference to "Lumber Jerks") had a robot that harvested trees and processes them into a single elevator button. The rest of the tree is burned to power the robot so it can cut down another tree.
  • May 19, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    In another Simpsons the logging rights for the Oldest Redwood in Springfield are sold for $100,000 to make a drive thru humidor. One of the other bidders is a restaurateur who wants to turn it into Thai takeout menus.
  • May 20, 2014
    TonyG
    In The Lorax, The Once-ler decimates an entire forest of Truffula trees to manufacture thneeds. It is never stated, but since only the foliage is used in making tneeds, there was no need to chop down the trees. By leaving the trees standing, the Once-ler could have had an unlimited supply of raw material.
  • May 20, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    Two Looney Tunes animations. One has an early concept of Barnyard Dog who sits and casually whittles down logs. He whittles down one log into a toothpick. In another cartoon, Foghorn Leghorn and the more familiar dog are in a scuffle. They summarily chop down a tree and place it into a lathe and quickly whittle it down to a standard-sized baseball bat to whack each other with.
  • May 20, 2014
    JonnyB
    I seem to recall a Looney Tunes cartoon where one character went to the trouble to grind down an entire tree just to make a baseball bat to hit another character over the head with, but I can't recall the name of the cartoon or the characters.
  • May 21, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    In an Archie Comics "Gag Bag" strip, Archie's dad Fred is whittling down a piece of mahogany wood to make a table, but keeps screwing up and settles for something smaller. At the end:
    Archie's mom: How many people have a mahogany toothpick?
  • May 22, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    ^^^^I thought about The Lorax, but I'm not sure it counts.
  • May 22, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ thing is, it's not about toothpicks, but it still involves wasteful production (he only needs the Tneeds' leaves, not their entire tree).
  • May 22, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    ^(Previous long post revised). Why it's necessary to chop down a Truffula tree to harvest it's fronds is never addressed in the original book and the cartoon. The CGI version suggests that stripping a tree of it's fronds kills it anyway, and this was done rather than slowly harvest a few fronds at a time to maximize production. Short sighted yes, but I'm still not sure this fits. In any event The Lorax is covered under Green Aesop
  • May 22, 2014
    Kellor
    On Littlest Pet Shop 2012, Fisher Biskit uses an entire pine tree to make one drop of pine scent for pet shampoo.
  • May 31, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Hat Needed; Ready to Launch?

    Suggested image for page: http

    ://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg529/Michael Hutson/toothpick_zpsdaa2ed07.jpg
  • May 31, 2014
    eroock
    Film:
    • In the German comedy Otto der Ausserfriesische, the hero runs a lighthouse and sells miniature lighthouses to tourists. These souvenirs are made from cardboard tubes used in toilet paper rolls. To get at his "raw material" he has to dismantle and dispose of all the toilet paper in the process.
  • June 15, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Two-week bump. One more hat?
  • June 15, 2014
    TheTitan99
    I think this looks good, and the five hats seem to agree. The description is short, but, really, what more needs to be said on it?
  • June 15, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Tweaked my Tabaluga example a bit (it was phrased "A variation occurs in", but since this trope is not solely about toothpicks anymore, it's not really a variation, but a straight example).
  • June 15, 2014
    TomWalpertac2
    Advertising example:
    • An ad for Little Smokies once featured (Tim Taylor's partner) carving a single toothpick out of a four foot 4 X 4 timber. He mentions that there's going to be a party. Cue a semi loaded with similar structural timbers.
  • June 16, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Ok, will launch as time permits.
  • June 16, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Launched!
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=6us5x95mm5kgqw82ll790afq&trope=TreesIntoToothpicks