This humble paper cup was the unknown hero during the great American flu epidemic of 1918. It was the greatest health solution to avoid the plague. Thanks to Boston lawyer named – Lawrence Luellen.
History never really knows the exact origins of the paper cup. Although there is evidence that they were used as far back as Imperial China.
The established fact was that around the beginning of the 1900’s, paper cups gained popularity when people began to realize that sharing the same tin or ladle, to drink from water barrels, also meant sharing and spreading germs rapidly.
Lawrence developed the “Health Kup” in 1907. He did this to help improve public health and hygiene due to the concerns of shared-use cups. A lot of people were saved from the flu epidemic by this simple invention. The Health Kup, in 1919 was renamed as the Dixie Cup.
But Lawrence didn’t perform this health saving item all by himself. That time, he worked for the American Water Supply Company, whose founder, Hugh Moore, developed a water-vending machine with disposable cups. Together Lawrence and Hugh embarked on an advertising campaign to educate the public and market the machine as the solution to the current epidemic.
At the end of the century, the paper cup has evolved from simply a health solution to an everyday convenience object. Everyday, millions of paper cups are used so that busy people can take their drinks with them anywhere and anytime. It is also the most popular item during birthdays, concerts, festivals and other big events.
Important Dates in the History of Paper Cups
1910 – Individual Drinking Cup Company of New York was formed by Hugh Moore.
1930’s – The Gee Manufacturing Company which was known as GeeManCo started manufacturing paper cups.
1936 – Leo J. Hulseman established the Paper Container Manufacturing Company in Chicago. Renamed Solo later.
1940 – Paper Container Manufacturing Company began manufacturing a paper cone cup known as the Solo Cup, for which the company was renamed.
1950s – Solo introduced a two-piece wax-lined cold cup used for serving cold drinks.
1955 – GeeManCo taken over by E.S. and A. Robinson (Holdings) Ltd
1957 – Robinsons set up new company Lily Cups and Containers (England) Ltd. Lily cups enter into licence agreement with Lily-Tulip Cup Corporation of America.
1972 – Lily Cups and Containers (England) Ltd changes name to DRG Cups Ltd ( DRG is Dickenson Robinson Group)
Late 1970’s – Polarcup of Finland- Huhtamaki established a wholesale operation in UK with Key Catering Disposable acting as warehouse and distributor.
1980 – Benders enters Cup production (Benders were a major manufacturer of paper tableware)
1983 – Dickenson Robinson Group of Bristol decides to close all production at DRG Cups Liverpool, as cost base was too high to maintain competitive position. Paper Cup Machines were sold to Polarcup Finland
1983 – To protect General Foods account, with UK production, Polarcup established a factory at Devizes, Wiltshire, using some of the PMC machines purchased from DRG. The agreement with Keycatering was ended.