You might not know Robert Hulseman by name but there is a good chance you’ve held his invention. The red Solo Cup is the go-to drinking vessel for picnics, parties and keggers.
Hulseman, who invented the cup, died last week at the age of 84, The Associated Press reported on Thursday.
As part of my tireless efforts in religious anthropology, I learned some years ago in Texas of the importance of the Red Solo Cup to Southern Baptist culture. I was invited to a big evening social event that was not a church social, but at which nearly everybody was a Southern Baptist. In southern Louisiana, my homeland, most of our Southern Baptists drink and don’t worry about it. Not so in Texas. Lots of them drink, but do worry about it. Hence this old chestnut:
How do you keep a Southern Baptist from drinking all your beer on a fishing trip?
Make sure you take at least two of them along.
So there I was, after a couple of hours at this fun party at a camp, wanting a beer. I joked with the hostess about how hard it was for a Catholic (as I was at the time) and Louisiana boy to go to a party and not have a beer.
“Are you serious?” she said. “Everybody’s drinking beer here. Go look in the fridge and get you one. All I ask is that you pour it into one of those red Solo cups.”
Sure enough, just about everybody had a red Solo cup full of beer, and had been drinking beer all night. I thought they were sipping Dr Pepper! I asked my wife about this later, and she said, “You don’t know about the Red Solo Cup thing?” I reckon I didn’t.
So, hail and farewell — and cheers — to Robert Hulseman, a Catholic layman who did so much to make life easier for Southern Baptists.