By Alexis Madrigal for The Atlantic:
The invention of American industrialism, the creation of urban life, changing gender relations, public-health reform, suburbia and its hamburger-loving teens, better living through plastics, and the financialization of the economy: The straw was there for all these things—rolled out of extrusion machines, dispensed, pushed through lids, bent, dropped into the abyss.
You can learn a lot about this country, and the dilemmas of contemporary capitalism, by taking a straw-eyed view.
This is a very well researched article on the humble drinking straw, and its correlation with the evolving American societal outlook. The pervasiveness of the drinking straw in this society probably makes this a pretty good correlation to make.
Go read, this is quite an interesting, albeit long, read. (I did not know, for example, that the original straw was made from actual straw.)