Have you ever wondered why the iconic to-go coffee cup of NYC is Greek themed?
The correct term for the cup is the “Anthora” which evolved from the Greco-Roman term for an ancient container. It goes back to the early 1900s when New York had a wave of Greek immigrants. They brought a European love for coffee with them and naturally started opening coffee shops. The first iteration of the NYC cup was in 1963 when the Sherri Cup Company created them in the hopes of appealing to Greek food vendors and restaurant owners. It was then that the catchy slogan “we are happy to serve you” was invented along with the Greek design.
The cup peaked in 1994 when sales hit 500 million making its blue and white design synonymous with New York culture. Solidifying its place in history, the MoMA started selling ceramic versions of the cup in 2003.Unfortunately, the debut of NYC Starbucks locations in the mid-90s gradually led to a decrease in the classic coffee cup as more and more people started opting for chain store espresso rather than local.
The original distributor of the cup has been bought out by a few different companies over the years and it was only in 2015 that the cup returned to wholesale distribution by popular request. There is no longer a single model anymore, distributors have created iterations with different designs and slogans. However, the Anthora will always be the original NYC coffee cup and its Greek design is a distinct reminder of the multiculturalism that exists in the city.