"A special everyday thing that brings happiness to my heart and steamed soy to my lips."
March 19, 2010 6:14 PM   Subscribe

"Here come the inevitable Freudian references: the Solo Traveler lid is a substitute for a mother’s breast – what we might call nature’s original travel lid. The flat covers with the tear-back openings offer no such metaphoric representation. Instead, spout = nipple. Paper cup = warm skin. Coffee, tea or soy = mother’s milk. Ergo the lid is a nurturing apparatus. It provides comfort and joy as well as nourishment." [via]

Designer (and design critic) Steven Heller isn't the only one to appreciate the modest coffee cup lid. Take architects Louise Harpman and Scott Specht, for example:
Our collection of independently-patented drink-through plastic cup lids is the largest in the United States. We are ever-vigilant, and make new additions to our collection in the most obvious of places—in convenience stores, gas stations, diners, and delis. Ours is a collection of the ordinary, not the esoteric. It has no monetary value, but rather operates as some modest form of intellectual capital. We have collected most of the lids ourselves, but have also, over the years, benefited from the bemused indulgences of both friends and acquaintances who send us their contributions. We have multiples of almost every lid, preparing ourselves for queries from fellow collectors, with whom we might fashion a trade to secure the elusive 1935 Stubblefield lid, the earliest patented drink-through lid, or the 1953 Delbert E. Phinney lid/cup combination.
Clements' Solo Traveler is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and was featured in their 2004 exhibition Humble Masterpieces, curated by Paola Antonelli (companion book). On Studio 360, Antonelli explains why the plastic coffee cup lid is here to stay [RealAudio (I know, I know, I'm sorry)].
posted by ocherdraco (49 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, if anyone can find out anything else about Clements, I'd love to know it. My googling only came up with the MoMA listing.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:16 PM on March 19, 2010


I hate it when I'm on a deadline and have nothing to write about too.
posted by The Whelk at 6:18 PM on March 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Plate of beans = ?
posted by mullingitover at 6:20 PM on March 19, 2010


It's time to stop lusting after disposable items.
posted by DU at 6:23 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


the Solo Traveler lid is a substitute for a mother’s breast

I don't remember anyone ever scraping their lips or scalding themselves on a mother's breast.
posted by theredpen at 6:26 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I do not use lidded cups. The cup lid is about the dumbest invention ever.
posted by bukvich at 6:31 PM on March 19, 2010


As a bottle-baby I can honestly say this is a crock.
posted by tommasz at 6:32 PM on March 19, 2010


So that means... that my over-crowded but ultimately empty-of-meaningfulness coffee table is actually... my sterile, unconsummated marriage bed. So what's the sleeve mean?

(That Harpman & Specht coffee-lid collection is most fantastic things I have ever seen.)
posted by steef at 6:33 PM on March 19, 2010


Weird. To me, these things symbolise all sorts of wrongness. Waste. Haste. The triumph of speed over taste. Joylessly swigging a high-carb caffeine shake that's obviously not aromatic enough to be worth getting your nose into.

Help me. I have to drink in the manner of an astronaut because I am trapped in a hostile environment inimical to normal human existence.

posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:35 PM on March 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."
posted by Morrigan at 6:38 PM on March 19, 2010


I do not use lidded cups. The cup lid is about the dumbest invention ever.

also, walking while you drink things is dumb, too. so you don't need a cup lid because you shouldn't ever be in motion while drinking something because that is dumb.
posted by shmegegge at 6:38 PM on March 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Help me. I have to drink in the manner of an astronaut because I am on an awesome adventure! Through space! Or at least the subway, where some people seem like they're from space!
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:40 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was at Target, and just at random, found a pair of double-walled, ceramic mugs, shaped like take-away coffee cups just like in the linked picture, with silicone lids. I think they were 8$ each.

They are fantastic. I haven't seen them since at Target, but I could not possibly be happier with them. Now I just need to convince my wife that it is Ok to ask to have her coffee poured into those instead when she goes out, and it will be even better.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:42 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yay! Once again the internet proves their are people out there that make me seem normal!
posted by cjorgensen at 6:45 PM on March 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actually shmegegge I am walking around my apartment drinking from a long neck beer bottle. What is your point?
posted by bukvich at 6:45 PM on March 19, 2010


psst! cup lids keep you from spilling drinks on yourself!
posted by shmegegge at 6:48 PM on March 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was at Target, and just at random, found a pair of double-walled, ceramic mugs, shaped like take-away coffee cups just like in the linked picture, with silicone lids. I think they were 8$ each.

They were probably I am Not a Paper Cups or something like it.
posted by jedicus at 6:49 PM on March 19, 2010


you shouldn't ever be in motion while drinking something because that is dumb.

Clearly someone never went to a "bush bash" in high school and had to run from cops trying to catch kids drinking underage. Beer's expensive when you only get $10/week allowance.

Oh wait, did you say dumb? Nevermind then.
posted by Kirk Grim at 7:05 PM on March 19, 2010


I do not use lidded cups. The cup lid is about the dumbest invention ever.

Really?
posted by nola at 7:11 PM on March 19, 2010


So what's the sleeve mean?

It's a foreskin substitute. Only circumcised men and women with circumcised penis envy use them.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:18 PM on March 19, 2010


shemgegge I have spilled a drink on myself once or twice. It has not ever been so traumatic as to motivate me to buy into cup lids. They are gross, man. Saliva outside your mouth is minimized by social cultural convention.

Are you one of those guys who spit in front of others?

Yeah I am familiar with the Kushner quote about the gallon of spit and sex. That only adds to my point. Saliva is private, and revealed by lidded cups. There is not much difference from carrying around a lidded cup and spitting. It's fucking gross is my point.

Have a good day man!
posted by bukvich at 7:18 PM on March 19, 2010


It is roll up the rim to win season at Tim Hortons and I cannot bear missing an opportunity to win free coffee, even if it is bad coffee, so I've been going there most mornings. I know this but forget each year and need to be reminded: Tim Hortons lids are stupid—they have a stupid flap with stupid perforations that are unreliable, and a stupid recessed area that doesn't always accomodate the bit of the flap that's supposed to fit there, and also they leak coffee like nobody's business, goddamnit I am tired of sponging coffee off the front of my coat every morning, AND I HAVEN'T EVEN WON ANYTHING EITHER.

I am developing a nuanced and wistful appreciation for the coffee lids in the linked article.
posted by bewilderbeast at 7:18 PM on March 19, 2010


"Oooh, it's so Freudian" usually means a) it isn't really but I have a deadline/wordcount, and/or b) I don't know enough about what Freud wrote but here's my shoddy understanding as applied to an everyday item.

I mean, hotdogs, you ever seriously looked at them?? Take the sausage out of the bun, hold each in either hand, and what you got? Very Freudian shit going on there, and probably a bit of Jungian as well, or something. Everytime I eat a hotdog I think about my conception, and dead animals, and the circle of life, and how it moves us all, through despair and hope, through faith and love, til we find our place, on the path unwinding, in the circle, the circle of life. I like Freud. (SFW, but not if you've got a dirty little Freudian mind.)
posted by Sova at 7:21 PM on March 19, 2010


the Solo Traveler lid is a substitute for a mother’s breast

Only if someone starts a Facebook page about carrying naked cups of coffee in public.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:29 PM on March 19, 2010


Am I the only person that agrees with the article, then? I've contemplated this subject on the train while drinking out of my travel cup and wondering why I drink coffee at all, anyway. I never got as far as the lid=nipple, however. I've also had the same thought about milk shakes.

And I know it's environmentally horrible, but for me carrying around used up coffee cups that I can't throw away is a pain in the ass. It's so nice to just throw it away! I know, I'm going to hell.

Also those lids keep the heat in. I used to buy disposable cups with lids to use sitting around at home just because they keep the heat in. Like I said, going to hell.
posted by amethysts at 7:36 PM on March 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't like those things because I like my coffee just warm... I need the coffee to cool down a lot before being able to touch it, and if the lid is on it takes forever to get to a point where I can drink it.

Which means I'm probably a necrophiliac obsessed with corpse boobs or something.
posted by qvantamon at 7:52 PM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Saliva is private, and revealed by lidded cups. There is not much difference from carrying around a lidded cup and spitting. It's fucking gross is my point.

what
posted by en forme de poire at 7:56 PM on March 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is my least favorite coffee cup lid. It's ok when I have a cup holder available, but the cup holders in my 15 year old Honda Civic are woefully inadequate. This means I end up having to hold my coffee, or stick it between my knees, so it always ends up sloshing out onto my lap. I much prefer Dunkin' Donuts lids, which are similar to the Solo lid, but include a convenient little flap over the opening to prevent coffee sloshing.
posted by lexicakes at 8:05 PM on March 19, 2010


Saliva is private, and revealed by lidded cups. There is not much difference from carrying around a lidded cup and spitting. It's fucking gross is my point.

What about straws?
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:06 PM on March 19, 2010


What about straws?

Good point. I haven't used straws in a long time, but the thing with hot drink lids may be they want to replicate the straw experience with a hot drink. I have never seen anybody ever drink a hot drink with a straw.

Straws do not expose saliva like cup lids.

I suspect you cannot do straws with hot drinks because they burn. And also I bet five dollars people who use cup lids get burned at least as often now as they got spilled upon before they adopted cup lids. The problem may be fundamentally intractable.

It may not yet be possible for humans to drink burnably hot liquids in motion. Keep trying!
posted by bukvich at 9:06 PM on March 19, 2010


I've been comparing Starbucks cups to "the teat of capitalism" (as a joke) for ages!
posted by rivenwanderer at 9:18 PM on March 19, 2010


jedicus: They were probably I am Not a Paper Cups or something like it.

They were just bare on the shelf, not in that packaging, but yeah, they look pretty much exactly like that and are 10floz, so I wouldn't be surprised if those were they. They're dynamite.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:19 PM on March 19, 2010


have you ever looked at a plastic lid ...on WEED?
posted by The Whelk at 9:37 PM on March 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


And all along I thought that the lid was to keep from spilling a hot drink all over you when you were on the go.

Sometimes, dude, a cigar is just a cigar.
posted by chimaera at 9:38 PM on March 19, 2010


I like how he references Pavlov FIRST THING so that we'll think he knows anything about Freud when he starts comparing something completely phallic-shaped to... a breast. What?
posted by autoclavicle at 10:41 PM on March 19, 2010


"Oooh, it's so Freudian" usually means a) it isn't really but I have a deadline/wordcount, and/or b) I don't know enough about what Freud wrote but here's my shoddy understanding as applied to an everyday item.

Freudian as a term has kind of grown to mean any "subconscious sexual feelings," so considering his argument is about that exactly then it is fine even though it has little to do with Freud.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 11:09 PM on March 19, 2010


Have a good day man!

I did! Thank you! And if the spit thing bothers you, then I have nothing to say about that. I hope you too, have a good day. The weather is finally nice enough.
posted by shmegegge at 11:11 PM on March 19, 2010


I have yet to understand why, in the last ten years, so many people have apparently decided to say the words "graphic design" when they clearly mean "my predilection for the intellectual equivalent of impulsive masturbation." Sure, the old way of saying it had more words, but it was a hell of a lot more precise.
posted by koeselitz at 1:25 AM on March 20, 2010


cup lids keep you from spilling drinks on yourself!

The fucking do not.

Closeable lids keep your drinks from spilling. Most coffee lids are not closeable. They have these removableable little mouth-vents, so you have a perma-hole for coffee to slosh out of when you're walking down uneven cobblestone, or jogging across the street trying to beat a light, or navigating a crowded... er... crowd. Slosh! Mother-FUCKER.

It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for all the illusory safety we're supposed to be getting from them. The Dunkin' Donuts cups have closeable lids, which is huge. They are also made of styrofoam, whose insulation characteristics are far superior to paper. But every last one of those Solo Traveler lids in the gallery should be melted down. They are an abomination.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:10 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


They do not, rather.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:12 AM on March 20, 2010


Nicholson Baker? Is that you?
posted by kcds at 4:26 AM on March 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'll buy it. I think the Freudian stuff is overblown, but the basic premise makes sense. Part of the context here is that these lids are part of a drug ritual. I'm certainly addicted to caffeine. I also find that touch anywhere on my face is tremendously intimate, and if invited, tremendously comforting. Those Solo lids have a design that is necessarily more intimate than the flat, flappy lids. The Solo lid is tall, so that the drinking apparatus can be recessed into it. That scoop above the drinking hole must be nuzzled into. Couple that with warmth, and the caffeine reinforcement, and you have a tremendously comforting experience. I think this really gets at the tactile experience of everyone's favorite morning drug ritual.

That said, the lids are wasteful. They also cost your local coffee shop about twice what the paper cup costs, so they will rightfully sneer at you for doing the double-lid/offset hole trick in the article. Some places have these little stickers to put over the drinking hole, which is a more sensible option. I hold the cup so that the axis across the drinking hole and carburetor hole is perpendicular to the direction of movement, so the trough of the wave created by the oscillation is underneath the holes. With this drinking schema, I've found that I have never had any sloshes not contained by the scoop in the top, however, you must not turn corners.
posted by iloveit at 8:45 AM on March 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like to drink bourbon and coke from a sippy cup.
posted by little e at 10:52 AM on March 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's worth noting that here in Europe (at least in the Continent: the Brits are more liable to ape US fads) these lids aren't used nearly as much as over the Atlantic. They may be used to try (and fail) to prevent spills when carrying a hot drink, but drinking from them? On the move?! If I lived such a soulless life that I couldn't even spare a couple of minutes to drink my coffee in a stationary position, then maybe I should consider suicide. And for preventing spills, not filling your cup to the brim is perhaps a better option...
posted by Skeptic at 11:36 AM on March 20, 2010


Gah, I hate the nipplification of coffee lids! Those solo lids always leak at the seam of the paper cup. Give me an old-school flat top lid any day. One that you can flip open and closed as needed.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:28 PM on March 20, 2010


If I lived such a soulless life that I couldn't even spare a couple of minutes to drink my coffee in a stationary position, then maybe I should consider suicide.

Yeah, well, some people got things to do.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:23 PM on March 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


The latte lid is the moustache cup of our generation.

I'm a Huhtamäki man, myself.
posted by zamboni at 7:03 AM on March 22, 2010


Look! Disposable coffee cup innovation!
posted by ocherdraco at 1:42 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Look! Disposable coffee cup innovation!

Awesome
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:37 PM on March 30, 2010


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