Solo Cup

Solo Cup

Updated Jun 22, 2015 at 06:20PM EDT by Ari Spool.

Added Mar 21, 2014 at 03:57PM EDT by Molly Horan.

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The Solo Cup refers to a line of disposable beverage cups manufactured and sold by Solo Cup Company. It is a party symbol in the United States. In the same way thick, black rimmed glasses have been linked to hipster culture) by pop media and the Internet, it has become impossible to see a red Solo Cup without thinking of the bro culture of fraternities.


The Red Solo Cup

The Solo Cup Company was founded in the 1940s, but they didn't begin manufacturing their signature red Solo Cups until the 1970s.[1] The Solo Cup Company was acquired by Dart Container[8] on May 4th, 2012. It was first portrayed in pop culture as a staple of American parties in the 1999 teen comedy American Pie. The red Solo Cup was featured heavily in the film's party scenes.


Many online news and culture sites have written reports and commentary on the red Solo Cup and what it means to Americans, and specifically youth party culture. On October 10th, 2011, Slate[1] published an article titled "The Solo Cup" that examines the cup's history and rise to popularity. On November 5th, 2011, NPR[10] published an article titled "The Red Solo Cup: Every Party's Most Popular Guest" that looked at its rise to popularity and the 2009 change to its design when it moved from a round base to a square base. On July 2nd, 2013, Buzzfeed[9] published a post titled "25 Examples America Is Obsessed With The Red Solo Cup" which features a collection of pop culture references to the cups and red Solo Cup themed products. The red Solo Cup accounts for about 60 percent of the company's sales, vastly outperforming the blue cup.

Measurement Marks

On June 13th, 2012, Gizmodo[5] published an article titled "What the Lines of a Red Solo Cup Actually Mean." The article pointed out that the groves in each red Solo Cup mark where you should stop filling the cup for certain types of alcohol. The first line marks a volume of one ounce for liquor, the second marks five ounces for wine, and the third marks 12 ounces for beer.

Did You Know: The Lines on a Solo Cup are Measurement Marks 12 ounces Beer 5 ounces Wine Liquor

After it was published they added an update after the Solo Cup Company contacted them and clarified:

"Although the lines on our Solo cups match up pretty closely with common liquid measurements, they aren't meant for that."

On April 7th, 2013, Redditor orcat started a thread on the subreddit /r/ExpectationVsReality[6] titled "Red Solo Cup" to discuss the meaning behind the lines. A link to a Business Insider[7] article published on June 11th, 2012, which confirmed Solo never meant for the lines to be used for alcohol measurement (though colleges sometimes use them for that purpose) quickly became the top comment on the thread.

Drinking Games

Beer Pong

The players are divided into two teams that stand at opposite sides of a table. On each side of the table are cups of beer laid out in a triangle formation. Players try to toss a ping pong ball into one of their opponents cups. If the ball lands in the cup, a member from that team must drink the beer, and the cup is removed.

Flip Cup

Two equal-numbered teams face each other with a cup of beer in front of each player. The first player from each game begins by simultaneously drinking their beers. Once the players have drunk their beer they put the base of the cup half on and half of the table, then using only one hand they attempt to flip the cup onto the table, bottom up. Once the first member of the team has succeeded the next member may try, and so on down the line until the first team has flipped all their cups.

Four Corners

Corners is played in the same manner as Beer Pong, though the setup is a player throws the balls from each of the four corners of the table. Teammates are diagonally across from each other and shoot continuously. Once one team gets a ball into the cup, that cup is passed onto the opposing team, who must drink the beer and flip the cup before they can continue playing. The first team to discard all their cups wins.


Nemesis is played much like Beer Pong, though their are still two teams each player is matched up with a nemesis whose scores they drink. Each pair may only play their designated ball, and the game ends when one team is left with no cups.

On YouTube

On October 11th, 2011, the music video for country singer Toby Keith's song "Red Solo Cup" was uploaded to his official YouTube channel TobyKeithVEVO[2] (below, left). As of March 2014, the video has over 23 million views. On December 11th, 2011, YouTuber OnMusicGlee[3] uploaded a cover of the song performed on the musical comedy show Glee on an episode titled "Hold on to Sixteen" (below, right). As of March 2014, the video has gained over 600,000 views.

Notable Examples

Use as a Percussion

Lulu and the Lampshades Cups Covers are videos in which the subject performs a cover of the song “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by the band Lulu and the Lampshades using a plastic cup (often a red Solo Cup) to create a beat. The covers became extremely popular after the lead character in the 2012 teen comedy Pitch Perfect (played by Anna Kendrick) uses the song for her a cappella audition (shown below, top left).

DIY Craft

RED CUP LIVING Leusable 12 oz. Cocktail Cup

Search Interest

External References

[1] Slate – The Solo Cup

[2] YouTube – TobyKeithVEVO

[3] YouTube – OnMusicGlee

[4] Drinking Game Zone – Civil War

[5] Gizmodo – What the Lines of a Red Solo Cup Actually Mean

[6] Reddit – Red Solo

[7] Business Insider – "Red Solo":The Lines On A Solo Cup Actually Mean Something":

[8] Dart – Dart Containor Closes on Aquisition of Solo Cup Company

[9] Buzzfeed – 25 Examples America Is Obsessed With The Red Solo Cup

[10] NPR – The Red Solo Cup: Every Party's Most Popular Guest

[11] Drinking Game Zone – Nemisis

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