You have held them, forgotten them on a car's dashboard and sometime even driven a car with one sitting on the roof or carried them from one meeting to another and waited for one to be handed out of a contactless window like knight in shining armor during work-from-home days. Yes, that's right, a coffee cup.
So, let's trace back to coffee cup's first appearance to 1907's Temperance Movement. A totally badass movement, Temperance activists raised their voice against the unregulated use of alcohol which was leading men to neglect duty and commit crime. Activists would go from bar to bar with a mobile communal water fountain and encourage people to drink plain water instead of alcohol. People would pass a ceramic/steel mug around for everyone to drink from the communal water fountain.
Although a very noble and clever idea indeed, you were at peace if the idea of communal "germs" did not cross your mind.
At the time, Lawrence Luellen, a Boston lawyer and inventor came up with an idea of disposable paper cup and an ice-cooler water machine so that people were not dissuaded by germs from communal water fountains. Brilliant guy!
Luellen called his invention the Health Kup, but later changed it to Dixie cup from the famous Dixie Dolls.
The Health Kup/Dixie cup was initially not so sophisticated as shown in this image. It was essential a paper bag which held water and could be thrown away after first use.
By this time, World War I was upon America and the disposable culture had gained quite a strong foothold in the American culture. It seemed like the Temperance Movement or not, Dixie Cup was here to stay for a very long time.
In 1930's, things were looking up for our good old cup. Inventors like S.R. Koons among many was busy filing for patents with paper cups attached with flurry paper handles for easy hold. See it with your own eyes:
The Golden Age for Coffee cups: 1960's
1960s seems to be like the most inventive age for coffee cups. We were introduced to an Anthora cup, foam cup, tearable lid cup and 7-Eleven cup.
In early 1960, the Dart Container Corporation made the first ever foam cup and distributed it to the wider public. A foam cup increasingly became the first choice for coffee handling. However, fast forward to 1963 coffee cups were also being appreciated for their aesthetic value. Leslie Buck created the first Anthora cup with signature Greek lettering and a patented design.
It has guest-appeared in Suits, Mad Men, The Office and many more TV Shows that George Clooney. This cup was hailed as the "most successful cup in the history" by New York Times.
Unfortunately for Anthora Cups, they were bought out by Solo Cup which was further bought by Dart Container. The Sherri machines were recycled as scrap and now the famous Anthora design can only be made on custom request.
However, the era of paper coffee cups didn't stop there. Enter 7-Eleven.
In 1967, 7-Eleven became the first chain to offer fresh coffee on-the-go to customers.
Coffee Cups are constantly being invented and re-invented to provide better insulation again hot! hot! coffee or become marketing wheels for cafes and food businesses. It is funny to think how much history of invention, rise and fall of companies, make or break of inventors and finally a pistol role in a social movement a simple product like a coffee cup has experienced.
Share some fun facts from your industry and let's see how far back we can date simple products.
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