The Rise of the Individual Cup

This has nothing to do with Capital District history, but having run across this 1911 article from Municipal Journal & Public Works, I thought I should share this vision of a world that wasn’t filled with plastic bottles:

Portland Urges Using Individual Cups

Portland, Ore. – Individual drinking cups not only are becoming popular, but they are a necessity in Portland these days, and will be more so next summer. There is a State law which abolished the cup chained to the fountain in public places, but as yet there are not enough “bite the bubble” fountains to appease the public thirst. This necessitates the individual cup, the kind carried in the pocket. By next summer, before a man leaves home in the morning he will put a clean handkerchief and a clean paper cup in his pocket before going to work. One concern has ordered 50,000 paper cups, which will be distributed for advertising purposes. Paper cups are of infinite variety and of various cost. Eastern department stores sell one kind at 12 for a dime, and in the big stores of the East, the cups are held in a container, working on the penny-in-the-slot principle, and are sold for a cent each. Some cups retail for a nickel, but these have a wire handle and are short and squatty. Most of the paper cups are made of oil paper and lie flat, being without a bottom. Those with a bottom cost a trifle more. One of these paper cups is supposed to be thrown away after a drink has been taken, but a cup can be used for a week, with reasonable care. By the end of a week it has become dirty from being carried in the pocket. Collapsible metal cups are bieng sold largely to school children, although most of the schools have a “bite-the-bubble” fountain, and these fountains are also installed in many cafeterias. The paper cup has not taken a hold in Portland yet.

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