Today is the birthday of Robert Leo Hulseman (April 5, 1932-December 21, 2016). You may not know his name, but you’ve almost certainly used the product he pioneered in the 1970s, especially if you’ve ever been to a party. Hulseman was born in Chicago and began working at the company his father started in 1936, The Solo Cup Company, when he was only eighteen, eventually becoming CEO in 1980. But the reason he deserves to be remembered came in the 1970s when he came up with the now-ubiquitous red solo cup, the cup of choice for countless keg parties, backyard barbecues and almost any other large-scale gathering you can name.
In the early 1970s, Hulseman hired famed Hollywood designer Sandy Dvore to redesign their plastic cups. Dvore had worked on such projects as the title sequence for the Partridge Family, Knot’s Landing, and the Young and the Restless, as well as doing trade ads for the back cover of Variety for many years. He apparently redesigned their logo on the spot, and it was immediately accepted and implemented (and is still in use today). He also suggested that they add some color to the cups themselves, and the initial cup colors were the exact same ones he used in the Partridge Family titles: blue, yellow, and, of course, the iconic red. While other colors have been available, it’s the red that really took off. The company has run numerous consumer surveys over the years, and red always emerges as the favorite by a wide margin. So you may see additional colors from time to time, but the red is likely never going away.
One other innovation that Hulseman created, that you probably use several times a week, is the “Solo Traveler coffee cup lid.” So drink a toast to Robert Leo Hulseman with whatever your favorite beverage happens to be, just make sure you drink it out of a red solo cup.