Everybody knows what a broom is –but do you know the history of brooms, and where they came from? Brooms have been a cleaning staple for centuries, beginning with a simple tool made of twigs to sweep ash from the hearth.
A ‘besom’, or a bunch of twigs bound to a rough wooden handle, was the standard through the 1700’s, but quite inefficient. They fell apart easily, and the twigs wore out quickly.
Around 1800 brooms with sorghum tassels began appearing commercially, although still not sturdy. The sorghum tassels eventually became known as ‘broom corn’, and innovation in the broom making industry began in earnest. In 1810 a machine that could securely sew the broom corn was invented, and inventions quickly followed that improved the manner in which the tassels were secured to the handle. The Shakers are responsible for changing the shape of the broom from round to flat in the early 1800’s, just the beginning of specialty brooms! They also designed their brooms so that rather than using holes and pegs up the stem to hold the tassels, they used tightly bound wire to secure the broom tassels to the handle.
As settlers moved west and towns were founded, both ‘sophisticated’ households became more and more conscious of appearances and cleanliness, broom shops began to appear and the broomcorn growing industry thrived in the United States.
Today there are scores of brooms available on the market, with dozens of uses, from natural broom corn brooms to synthetic brooms in all shapes and sizes. More versions became available: short handles, long handles, round or flat.