A broom and a brush are somewhat alike. A broom, of course, is used for cleaning only, but many brushes serve this purpose, too. However, the brush was invented many thousands of years before the broom. The caveman used brushes made of a bunch of animal hairs attached to the end of a stick. The kitchen broom was originally a tuft of twigs, rushes, or fibers tied to a long handle. In colonial times in America, this was the kind of broom that was used. And in many parts of Europe today, you can still see streets and floors of homes being swept with such brooms.
The kitchen broom as we now know it is made from stalks of corn and this kind of broom is an American invention. There is a story about the origin of it that may or may not be true. According to this story, a friend in India sent Benjamin Franklin one of the clothes brushes made and used in that country. It looked very much like a whisk broom.
A few seeds still clung to its straws, and Franklin planted them. They sprouted—and within a few years broom com was being cultivated. One day an old bachelor of Hadley, Massachusetts, needed a new broom. He cut a dozen stalks of broom corn, tied them together, and swept out his house.
After that, he never again used a birch broom. In fact, he began to make corn brooms and sell them to his neighbors. When he died in 1843, broom making was an important industry, and the town of Hadley was growing nearly a thousand acres of broom com a year! Today, much of the work of broom making is still done by hand.
What Are Brooms Made From?
Brooms are made from a plant called broomcorn.