Vintage Dixie cups: See retro designs & dispensers, plus get the history of the little disposable cups

Vintage Dixie Cups

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Remember getting drinks in vintage Dixie Cups? You may recall them from childhood because of their cute designs, or from later years as the ubiquitous disposable receptacles for wonderful hot beverages.

It turns out, though, that they weren’t invented simply for kids or for coffee. Find out more of the story here, plus look back at dozens of designs and patterns!

Brand history: Where did the name “Dixie Cup” come from? (1964)

Article from The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) February 23, 1964

Dixie Cup, one of America’s great brand names, has an interesting story, and it is told in a just-published book, “Why Did They Name It…?” by Hannah Campbell (Fleet Publishing Company).

Dixie Cup, Miss Campbell writes, was founded in 1908 as the American Water Supply Company of New England. Its purpose was to sell a pure, cold drink of water for a penny.

The crude paper cup, devised to make the penny water sale possible, was only incidental. A few water vending machines were set up at trolley transfer corners, but sales weren’t good.

History of the Dixie Cup - c1909

Then the Dixie cup founders realized they had been selling the wrong thing — that they should be concentrating on the disposable paper cup, not the water.

The Anti-Saloon League was all for them, reasoning that the availability of pure drinking water kept men out of the saloons.

At about this time — 1909 — a young crusading health officer in Kansas fought for, and won, legislation banning the common drinking vessel in public places. But he needed something to replace the tin cup or dipper — and paper cups were the answer.

State after state jumped on the bandwagon, following Kansas’ lead. The railroads became the first major industry to adopt paper cups.

Then the drug store soda fountain, under pressure to raise sanitation standards, began to use the paper “Health Kups,” as one of the advertising geniuses of the time named them.

But the name didn’t go over. Hugh Moore, founder of Dixie Cup, wanted a new name.

Vintage Dixie cups in a dispenser from the 60s

One day, climbing the stairs of the old loft building in downtown New York where the paper cups were produced, he saw a name on an office door — Dixie Doll Company. He liked that name of Dixie.

He remembered as a boy hearing about the Mississippi River traders going down the river “for a load of Dixies.”

“Dixies” (after dix, French for ten) were ten-dollar notes issued by the Bank of New Orleans, which was noted for the strength of its currency at a time when paper money could become virtually valueless overnight.

Those bank “dixies” had all the qualities that Moore would like to have associated with his “Health Kups.” The name was short, easily remembered, looked well in print, flipped off the tongue easily, and had a historical background.

Would the doll maker mind if Hugh Moore used the name? No, he didn’t mind at all.

That was how Dixie cups got their name — a name, as Miss Campbell says in the book, “destined to write its own legend and become one of the best-known of all brand names.”

“Soldier man, why do they serve our sodas in Dixies?” (1940s)

“To keep us well, youngster! Uncle Sam’s taking no chances on our catching something from somebody else’s glass.”

Mouth-to-mouth contagion from public drinking utensils can only be checked by sanitizing with intense beat or chemicals — and that takes time. Merely dousing in soap and hot water & not enough.

That is why fountains near Army camps are being urged to serve in paper cups to protect the health of our soldiers. For each Dixie Cup is used but once and thrown away.

What’s good for the health of the Army is good for the general public, too. That soda fountains are swinging to individual service in Dixie Cups is significant of the general awakening to the importance of our national health.

ALSO SEE: 100+ D-Day pictures: See WWII’s Operation Overlord in June 1944, plus get historical insight from 25 years later

WWII 1940s Dixie cups for soldiers with sodas

Now’s no time to flirt with contagion! (1942)

Remember 1918!… Flu swept our nation… over 20 million were stricken… Six Hundred Thousand died — more than ten times our losses in action in the entire war.

War and epidemics have been disastrous partners throughout history.

A similar epidemic NOW might spread with appalling swiftness from community to community, from industry to industry, killing our people… paralyzing our armament program… delaying the eventful day of Victory. Truly, now is no time to flirt with contagion.

Now more than ever it is patriotic to keep well — and on the job. That is why we are told to “keep fit”… “eat nourishing foods” –“avoid fatigue”. For only a nation that is physically strong can resist the threat of illness — of epidemics.

Dixie Cups - No time to flirt with contagion - LIFE Sep 28, 1942

Mothers! It’s so handy… (1955)

…to have a supply of really clean cups always ready in your kitchen and bathroom. Sturdy, colorful dispenser is so easy to put up, costs only 59¢ to 69¢.

Take advantage of this outstanding bargain offer today! Stop breakage, between-meal p clutter and endless dishwashing. Start enjoying the convenience of safe and sanitary (and extra economical) Dixie Cups now!

You’ll see why — more people use more Dixie Cups in their homes than all other brands combined.

Old fifties Dixie Cup dispenser (1955)

Emily Post for Dixie cups (1956)

“Not all paper cups are Dixie Cups… just the best ones” says Emily Post.

It’s smart to be informal with Dixie Cups! Today, there are countless occasions when Dixie Cups and plates can be used with complete propriety. This growing custom is not only socially correct, it’s just plain common sense.

Emily Post for Dixie cups (1956)

The best ice cream in the world… (1957)

… comes in this cup!

Every spoonful of ice cream or dairy dessert in a Dixie cup is delicious — its quality and purity assured by a joint agreement between the Dixie Cup Company and the makers of your favorite ice cream. 

Not all ice cream cups are Dixie Cups… just the best ones!

MORE: 25 vintage ice cream flavors from the ’50s

Summer 1957 Backyard - Ice cream in Dixie cups

Use Dixie cups to prevent summer colds (1950)

Each time you quench a summer thirst, remember that your health comes first. To guard yourself from germs unseen, use Dixie Cups, they’re always clean!

50s lifeguard with paper cup (1950)

ALSO SEE: How penicillin was discovered, and why WWII let this miracle drug reach millions

Smart shoppers insist on quality! (1955)

Dixie — America’s No.1 paper cup

…In the kitchen, reach for a Dixie Cup from your Dixie Dispenser.

  • No more between-meal dishwashing!
  • Ends cluttered counters and sinks!
  • Ideal for after-school snacks — juices, milk, soft drinks!
  • Individual Dixie Cups help eliminate mouth-carried infection!
  • Avoids the danger of broken glass!
  • Dixie Dispenser easily mounts anywhere… ideal for bathrooms, too!

America's number 1 paper cup (1955)

ALSO SEE: 100 vintage 1960s supermarkets & old-fashioned grocery stores

Red retro Dixie Cups ad (1961)

Kids love to help themselves with Dixie Cups from a handy Dixie Cup Dispenser. Now even your youngest can be on his own without risk to himself or to your good crystal. And you save so much glass washing

Vintage Dixie cups (1961)

Vintage Dixie Cup dispensers were for families (1962)

Old-fashioned colorful paper cups (1962)

Dixie’s Mira-Glaze Cups (1961)

Coffee men present their noblest brews in new Dixie Mira-Glaze Cups to make sure you taste only coffee flavor.

Dixie’s new miracle lining eliminates every trace of plastic odor and cardboard taste. At your favorite store and better eating places. Ask for Dixie Mira-Glaze Cups.

ALSO SEE: After vintage automatic coffeemakers like these were invented, mornings were never the same

Old coffee brands on paper cups with handles (1961)

Dixie cups for Halloween (1962)

Dixie cups for Halloween (1962)

MORE: Trick or treat, retro-style: See the sweetest vintage Halloween candy from the ’50s & ’60s

Dixie cups for kitchens and bathrooms (1961)

Get a Dixie Cup Dispenser for your kitchen… We’ll give you a free one for the bathroom.

A Dixie Cup Dispenser in your kitchen means far fewer glasses to wash. And, kids love to help themselves with colorful Dixie Cups.

A Dixie Dispenser in the bathroom replaces the glass that could spread the “bug” that lays the whole family low. Keep one in each room. See if your family doesn’t have fewer colds!

Dixie cups for kitchens and bathrooms (1961)

MORE: Vintage colored paper towels: See 60+ old-fashioned patterns, colors & kitchen towel styles

“Kids help themselves” Dixie Cups (1962)

Kids help themselves; less work for you with a Dixie Dispenser. Now, the kitchen sink doesn’t fill up with glasses.

Instead of constant dishwashing, you have time for other tasks. The kids can’t catch colds from re-using soiled glasses. New, transparent, dispenser goes with any color scheme. Refills are everywhere.

Kids help themselves - Disposable cups (1962)

Vintage Dixie cups for mouthwash – Starburst pattern (1967)

Attention mouthwash users: Dixie Cup declares an Anti-Cold War. Join now and save 50 cents.

You use your mouthwash to help prevent the spread of colds. That’s good. But did you ever realize thot your bathroom gloss can spread colds. From one member of the family to another.

That’s why you should have a Dixie Cup Dispenser in your bathroom. With Dixie Cups you don’t spread colds. You throw them away.

Help wipe out colds! Use your favorite mouthwash. Use Dixie Cups. And join the Anti-Cold War.

Vintage Dixie cups for mouthwash - Starburst pattern (1967)

ALSO SEE: 60 vintage Libbey drinking glass designs from the ’60s

Vintage 60s Dixie Cups (1961)

The new Dixie Cup Dispenser goes with any color scheme. Because it’s transparent. It has no color of its own. Durable, too. Will last for many years.

Kids love to help themselves with fresh colorful Dixie Cups. You’ll have fewer glasses to wash. New dispenser holds full box of 50 sanitary Dixie Cups.

Vintage 60s Dixie cups (1961)

This miracle lining ends cardboard taste (1962)

You’ll find this lining that protects coffee flavor in the amazing new Mira-Glaze Cup.

The version shown here — Dixie’s Imperial Service. Other shapes and styles at drive-ins, cafeterias, and vending machines. To each his own clean Dixie Cup.

Vintage 60s paper coffee cup inserts - 1962

Introducing a new household gadget. (1969)

The Dixie Cup.

A glass is just a glass. But a 5 ounce Dixie Cup is…

  • a leftovers cup,
  • a cookie cutter cup,
  • an eavesdropping cup,
  • an ash tray cup,
  • a stream-iron cup,
  • and a light bulb cup.

Dixie Cups. You can even drink one of them.

Vintage Dixie cups (1969)

Vintage Dixie cups and dispensers (1963)

You can dispense with all this when kids help themselves from this dispenser.

Vintage Dixie cups and dispensers (1963)

MORE: Old-fashioned Hi-C drink flavors, like grape, cherry, orangeade & others

Retro Dixie Cup cartoon ad with coupon (1973)

Mom: “I have less trouble with the kids because with a Dixie Kitchen Dispenser, they can get their own juice and milk without interrupting me.”

Vintage Dixie cups - Bathroom and kitchen dispensers (1973)

Dixie Riddle Cups for children (1972)

What makes children drink their milk with a smile?

New 5 ounce Dixie Riddle Cups are a riot of colors and laughs. They have dozens of zany pictures, crazy riddles and answers, and hours and hours of entertainment on them.

They’re designed epically for kids… but we didn’t forget mothers, either. These new Dixie Riddle Cups will fit beautifully into your Dixie 5 ounce Kitchen Cup Dispenser.

And when youngsters help themselves from a Dixie Kitchen Dispenser, there are fewer interruptions for you. And fewer dirty glasses cluttering your kitchen, waiting to be washed.

So if you want to put a big smile on your children’s faces, get them new Dixie Riddle Cups. And be sure to use this money-saving coupon. It’ll put a big smile on your face, too.

70s Dixie Riddle Cups from 1972

MORE:50 vintage Libbey glasses from the ’70s

Dixie Riddle Cups for children (1972)

Here’s a sample of the “jokes” on the cups…

Question: What is gray, weighs 2 tons, and puts out forest fires? Answer: Smokey the Elephant.

Question: What is the latest thing in boys’ clothes? Answer: Girls.

Question: How is a coffee pot like a puppy? Answer: They both are perky.

Question: If an athlete gets athlete’s foot, what does an astronaut get? Answer: Missle Toe.

Question: Why is a baby like an old car? Answer: They both have a rattle.

Question: Why is grass so harmful? Answer: It has blades.

Question: What do vampires do at midnight? Answer: Take a coffin break.

Question: What kind of cheese do you find in church? Answer: Swiss cheese, because it’s holy.

Question: What carries colored Easter eggs and lives in the mud? Answer: The Easter Piggy.

Dixie Riddle Cups from 1972

Dunk a Dole in a Dixie Riddle Cup. (1973)

Your kids will love Dole dunking — it’s delightful. And delicious. All they need are sweet, ripe Dole bananas, fun-filled Dixie Riddle Cups, and a little imagination.

Gather your kids’ favorite toppings, garnishes and goodies. and put them in separate Dixie Riddle Cups. Then peel delicious Dole bananas and watch your kids dunk away.

Use chocolate and caramel, instant cocoa and frosting, sugar and spice and anything nice. Fruit and honey, nuts, coconut, and flavored gelatin powders. Anything is fair. Don’t knock it sf you haven’t dunked it.

Retro 70s Dixie cups - Riddles (1973)

Retro drink names on Dixie Cups (1979)

Comes with free Star Wars “The Empire Strikes Back” story cards. The cold cup for any occasion!

Retro 1979 Dixie cups with drink names

Dixie Cups with retro swirl pattern (1972)

With a Dixie Kitchen Dispenser on the wall, your children can get their own juice and milk. They won’t have to interrupt you to hand them glasses all the time.

And of course, you won’t be faced with glasses cluttering up your kitchen, waiting to be washed.

All of which means that breakfast can be a little easier and more relaxing for you. Isn’t that a nice feeling to wake up to in the morning? 

Retro swirl pattern Dixie cups (1972)

Retro Dixie cup design: Floral collection (1970s)

Vintage 1970s Dixie Cup designs - Floral collection

ALSO SEE: Disposable paper plates & party decor like this became all the rage in the ’60s

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. I remember Dixie Riddle Cups! Finding out what riddle you were going to get made getting a drink fun… and you were always slightly annoyed when you got a “repeat” riddle. One that I distinctly remember was “What is green and sings?” (Answer: Elvis Parsley!). Of course, as a kid in the ’70s I didn’t get it, so I asked my mother who that referred to. She told me it was a reference to Elvis Presley — it was clear by her tone of voice that she did not approve of him.

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