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It's Time To Bring Back The Master Cup

Epluser Co.,Limited | Updated: May 03, 2016

Growing up in the 90's, every home in America had distinct glasses and cups. When you were at a friend's house, their mom would say help yourself, milk, water, we got pops in the garage and you'd navigate through their unfamiliar cabinets. Plates, nope, spice rack, nope, ah ha, there they are.

On one side, glasses. Half tall, half short. Clear. Breakable, which didn't bode well for bagel bite fingers. Next to the glasses, sometimes on a different shelf, sometimes hidden from plain sight altogether, were the cups. The cups were always big and obnoxious. Colorful, the art ranging from university logos to Looney Tunes characters.

In a row all by itself was the master cup. This was off limits. You pull someone else's master cup off the shelf and you're riding your bike home, permanently banned from ever coming back. Master cup was always reserved for your friend's dad who would come in like a giant, hey kids, scuse me, grabs the cup, empties an entire ice tray and puts it under the faucet.

No matter where you were in the country, you had a version of this cup. In Michigan, eight out of ten households had a massive master cup with a photo of Barry Sanders breaking a tackle. In Chicago I assume it was the Bulls starting five. If you weren't a sports family, you still had one in the cabinet, usually from the fast food chain Hardees.

Filling up master cup was a clear sign that the rest of the day was only going to involve the couch and the bathroom. In terms of size, these cups held anywhere from 48 to 148 ounces. You could dump an entire 2 liter in without fear of an overflow. Fill it up with milk and you had enough dairy to dip through an entire box of Oreos.

Master cup was at its best with ice water. And remember, this was the late 90's so Brita filters were still pretty much sci-fi and about as common as those electric unicycles. But with master cup there was no need to run the water through any sort of filter. That water was always the coldest, purest water you'd ever tasted. Which made no sense because the cup alternated between pop, milk and water with arguably no sort of dish soap in between.

Master cup was a right of passage. Sometime between your 13th birthday and getting your first driver's license, dad came home with an extra large Taco Bell cup, ran it under the faucet, handed it over, my child, you are ready. And the cup still smelled like Mountain Dew Code Red but you took that first sip and it was glorious. It was everything you had ever hoped for and you longed for the day to fully graduate from the Taco Bell training wheels to a true master cup of your own.

Life went on. I graduated high school, went to college, got married and a Bed Bath & Beyond registry later our cabinets looked like the ones I remember from childhood. Nice glasses on one side, plastic cups that my mom had snuck into the moving boxes with half faded words like "Adams Elementary School" or "Dow Chemical Employees Credit Union" on the other side.

But no master cup. I don't remember the exact date, but there was a cold Saturday morning when I went into the kitchen, grabbed a tall glass and decided, you know what, no, I don't want a glass, I want a cup, I want to sit down with a giant master cup and watch some basket ring games with enough ice water to last me an entire week. The wait for a master cup has gone on long enough.

I went to two or three stores, couldn't find anything. Their "cup" section looked like this:

cups cups cups

The problems here, one, the cups are all way too small. Two, they have over complicated the cup. Sure, it's nice that the cup is dish washer safe, doubles as a water bottle or a coffee cup and it's eco-friendly, gluten-free, whatever else, but they are missing the main point. Convenience was never master cup's selling point. It didn't matter that it was awkward to find shelf space or that it would explode in the dishwasher, no, master cup knew how to do one thing and one thing right: hold a lot of liquid.

That's it. There didn't need to be anything else.

But now you can't find one anywhere. The best bet is get the largest 7-11 Big Gulp you can find, but the problem there is I'll go in, head to the Big Gulps then see, "Oh wow, blue raspberry Slurpee," get a Slurpee instead, pay, get outside, dammit. Try it again. Go for the Big Gulps, well now they're refilling the Wild Cherry Slurpee, I'd be crazy to pass that up...

I have always been amazed by the people who have the discipline to stick with the Big Gulp, especially when someone fills theirs up with Coke, I'm always like, "You didn't want to go with the frozen and more delicious version?"

And I don't know what happened. Who killed the master cup? The first suspect that comes to mind would be former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Maybe it is a sugary soft drink worry. Or maybe the worry is regarding the master cup's impact on the environment. I would counter with the fact that a master cup's literal shelf life is north of 30 years. Every '85 Bears master cup is still in use. Cup Barry Sanders never retired. These aren't being wasted.

And if master cup ever chips, cracks, gets accidentally sat on, that's not the end. Not at all. You get out the duct tape or you just accept that it's going to drip on the couch. Under no circumstance does master cup EVER go in the trash.

Especially now that master cup is facing extinction. I am worried that our grandkids will never experience what it's like to have a lazy weekend day with the remote control in one hand and master cup in the other. I am saddened every time I see someone reach for another Oreo but have no milk left for the dunk.  I feel for modern sports stars like Steph Curry or Bryce Harper who will never know what it's like to have themselves immortalized on a giant plastic cup.

Look. Now is not the time to point fingers. It doesn't matter how we got here, who's responsible, who to assign the blame. What matters now is that we act and we act quickly. It's time to bring back the master cup.

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