2016 keeps kicking our asses, as it was reported today that the inventor of the legendary red Solo cup passed away. 84-year-old Robert Leo Hulseman died peacefully on Wednesday, December 21, and I owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for all of the good times he has provided me over the years. His cups were mandatory at every high school and college party that I ever attended, and I have nothing but fond memories of slamming cold brews in those iconic drinking vessels.
Via People, here’s some history on how Hulseman revolutionized boozing.
Hulseman started working at Solo Cup Company when he was just 18. The company’s cone-shaped paper cups debuted in the 1940s, and continued providing all manner of disposable tableware through the 1950s and ’60s, until the 1970s, when Hulseman was credited with inventing the project that changed drinking culture forever.
“The history is a little sketchy,” Kim Healy, VP of consumer business for Solo, told Slate in 2011. “We know we were one of the first to introduce a party cup.”
But something about Solo’s offering — its initially simple design, eye-grabbing color, and functional interior fill lines (rings at the bottom of the cup denote 1.5 ounces, 5 ounces and 12 ounces, for liquor, wine and beer, respectively — allowed it to rise to the top of the market, and the vessel quickly became a staple of drinking culture, particularly in colleges across America.
The company implemented design changes to the original shape over the years — indented grips and a square bottom to make it more stable when used in party games — keeping its party-first reputation in mind.
The rings on the Solo cup never get the credit they deserve. That was a genius idea and it’s a goddamn shame that a lot of people don’t even know what they mean.
Tonight, I’m going to pay tribute to Hulseman the best way that I know how. I’m going to get rip-roaring drunk, dominate beer pong and flip cup, and listen to this Toby Keith classic on a continuous loop. Rest in peace, my party-starting friend.