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Trees into Toothpicks

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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, as an 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.


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  • 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.

    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?
    • Another comic taking place at Christmas involved a bitter old business owner buying pine trees to make toothpicks with. Said businessman's name happened to be H.M. Bugg.
  • 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.

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

  • Brown's 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.
  • Reaper Man: The Counting Pines of the Ramtops, which are magically able to alter their genetic code, became convinced that the reason humans cut down trees was so they could count the rings to determine their age. So the Counting Pines "evolved" to show their age on the side of their trunks, and were driven to the brink of extinction by "the ornamental house number plate industry".

    Live-Action TV 

    Puppet Shows 
  • A Green Aesop example is the Sesame Street story "The King Who Wasted Paper". The king doesn't realize how wasteful he has been until there is only one tree left in the royal forest.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Aaahh!!! Real Monsters episode "Tree of Ickis", Ickis is turned into a tree after eating an acorn, then is cut down and taken to a sawmill to be turned into baseball bats. Luckily, before Ickis could be sliced by the buzzsaw at the end of the Conveyor Belt o' Doom, he is turned back to normal by termites Oblina and Krumm gather up.
  • 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. When she calls out the CEO on this, he responds that the rest of the tree is turned into furniture.
  • 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. Not one tree making plenty of bowling pins, one tree per pin.
    • 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.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • The 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.
    • In another episode, Montana Max owns an ice cream spoon factory and, similar to the elevator button example, makes one spoon out of each harvested tree. The rest of the tree is wasted.
  • 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.
  • A late episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998) had the Professor taking the girls camping in the same area as Fuzzy Lumpkins and his three nephews. The Professor does his best to get the girls to relax despite Fuzzy's antics. This includes showing them the tree he planted as a child. While he's reminiscing, Fuzzy cuts it down for, what else? A toothpick.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: Edwin Blair runs a toothpick factory and, in "Arbor Day", intends to make toothpicks out of the tree whose splinter inspired him into the toothpick business by getting stuck on his finger years ago. After Ami and Yumi talk him out of it, he decides to leave the tree alone and tear down the rest of the forest.
  • The Max Fleischer cartoon "All's Fair At The Fair" includes a machine that turns whole logs into, in this case, wooden clothespins.
  • Captain Planet: "Two Futures" ends with some of the Eco-villains trapped in a version of the future where everyone is actively trying to protect and care for the environment. Hoggish Greedly gives a speech about how, in the 20th Century, "if you wanted a toothpick you chopped down a forest", prompting one young girl to ask how "stupid, selfish people" like Greedly could have had any influence.

    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-20th century eventually brought an end to this practice, but far too late for many of the giant trees.