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.
open/close all folders
- An ad for Hillshire Farms Lil' Smokies once featured Richard Karn carving a single toothpick out of a 4-foot 4×4 timber. He mentions that there's going to be a party. Cue a semi loaded with similar structural timbers.
- 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.
- In the Johan and Peewit story The Smurfs And The Magic Flute, a whole tree is cut down to make a copy of the title item. Justified as they need to carve it out of the tree's core or it won't have its magic properties.
- One ''Brevity'' strip◊ has a toothpick, in the last moments of its life, mourn how it was once an 800-year-old tree.
- Browns Pine Ridge Stories: A variation of this is discussed. The author bemoans how some lazy people have cut down trees on their yards for the frivolous reason of not having to deal with the minor inconvenience of raking the leaves they shed in Autumn.
- In the episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 "Boggy Creek II: and the Legend Continues...", Servo starts mass producing whittling sticks by cutting down rainforests.
- A Super Trope example: 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 into the toilet, flushing it. The couple give each other a happily knowing look as they realize that they have to change the toilet again.
- In a Happy Tree Friends episode, Lumpy destroys an entire tree for one toothpick.
- 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, depicts an automated lumber-processing plant that used a giant pencil sharpener to turn logs into a single toothpick each. The same plant also shredded whole trees into sawdust, which was then mixed with rubber cement to make artificial fireplace logs.
- 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" has the sailor battle lumberjack Brutus to prevent him felling ancient 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 that 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 processed them into a single elevator button. The rest of the tree is burned to power the robot so it can cut down another tree.
- The animated short "Crazytown" features, among other ludicrous reversals, this particular trope when detailing the activities of a manufacturing company.
- One Animaniacs cartoon had Daniel Boone cutting down a variety of trees for extremely specific purposes as part of his efforts to make a log cabin, with the implication that any wood left over from that purpose would be thrown away. He ends up facing Slappy Squirrel when he decides that her tree is made from a type of wood that is ideal for making front doors - and only front doors. The back door and any internal doors would be made from a different wood taken from a different tree.
- 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-20th century eventually brought an end to this practice, but far too late for many of the giant trees.