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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

That New York, Greek Diner, Street Cart, Paper Coffee Cup

If you've ever been in New York and grabbed a kawfee to go from a street vendor, convenience store or diner, you know what I'm talking about.

It looked kinda (OK, exactly) like this:

We_are_happy_to_serve_you 

The back story to this cup is fairly simple.  [source here]

In the mid 20th century, Greek immigrants had become a force in the diner / take-away market... especially in the metro-New York area. 

In the early 60s, in an attempt to appeal to these Greek-owned businesses, a designer named Leslie Buck at the Sherri Cup company came up with a design which had the colors of the Greek flag (blue and white), a pleasant greeting ("We are happy to serve you") written in Greek-looking letters, framed by two ancient Greek amphorae and bordered by a classic Greek 'key' motif. 

To keep the design from being too bland-looking, he added three yellow coffees in the same color as the greeting.

As a play on the word 'amphora' the company called the cup 'Anthora'... and the the rest, as they say, was history.  It went on to become the definitive New York take-out cup.

About ten years ago I was was killing time in Grand Central Station while waiting for my train home to Connecticut, when I saw a ceramic replica of this classic paper cup in a store called 'Our Name Is Mud'.  I immediately bought one as a gift for Zahava.

Zahava loved the gift... and I immediately started coveting it.  But it took a few years before I actually bought one for myself.

Since moving to Israel, that ceramic Anthora cup has been my default morning coffee cup.    It has gotten chipped and crazed over the years... but I loved it and refused to give it up.

However, this past week it finally broke.  I'm pretty good at fixing things, but knowing it has to hold hot liquid, I decided that it was beyond repair. 

No problem.  I just went to the 'Our Name Is Mud' website to order a replacement... but they apparently don't make them anymore.  I don't know if they got sued or simply didn't sell enough of them to keep them in their catalog.  But for whatever reason... I was out apparently of luck.

Yeah right.  G-d bless the Internet. 

Within a few minutes of being let down by O.N.I.M., I found someone else who was making the ceramic Anthora cups.  Not only that, but it is a much more faithful reproduction of the original.  The O.N.I.M. version had been kind of clunky and lacked the rolled lip of the paper original.  But this one was... well, see for yourselves:

Compare 
It's such a simple thing, but I can't explain how happy I am that a replacement for my old Anthora cup has been found!

[~insert squealing little girl noise here~]

 

Posted by David Bogner on May 18, 2011 | Permalink

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Will they ship it to you in Israel? If not, I'm happy to bring it when I come.

Posted by: SaraK | May 18, 2011 6:13:51 PM

Their list of resellers has loads of online outlets in Japan, Australia, etc. I bet you Israel would be a great market for these with so many ex-New Yorkers and Americans in general there. If you set up a franchise as a sideline you'd have a life's supply as well. ;o)

Posted by: aparatchik | May 19, 2011 12:03:32 PM

You know it's a classic when it is available at the Moma Store in NY and online.
http://www.momastore.org/museum/moma/ProductDisplay_New%20York%20Coffee%20Cup_10451_10001_16678_-1_11515_11516_null__

Posted by: Raz | May 19, 2011 3:36:07 PM

Hi David,

Sorry we let you down on the Anthora, but it was a good friend for a long time. Most of ours were personally hand thrown by Our Name is Mud designer Lorrie Veasey. Many of you may recall that early versions of it were intentionally slightly crushed, in order to give it that used look. About the time that we went to move our "simpler" version of the cup into mass production, this version came on to the market. Although we loved our version, this one is pretty cool. Glad to see that some of you remember this from long ago. David, yours held out for a long time it seems. Hopefully we can help you with something else down the line.

Thanks for checking with us.

Kip Veasey
Our Name is Mud

Posted by: Kip Veasey | May 19, 2011 4:20:30 PM

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