Stanley Cup joins long list of fads

Bell bottoms, Cabbage Patch dolls, pet rocks, Disney popcorn buckets—the list goes on.

This year it is the Stanley Cup Quencher in a rainbow of colors. Fads are part of our society.

They are different than trends or cults and most have a limited life.

There are fads everywhere you look. Fashion, diets, music, clothes, and especially toys.

Who remembers the Power Rangers? They seem to come out of nowhere, blaze a path of widespread adaption by multitudes of people, and then crash into sudden decline seemingly overnight.

Take the Stanley Cup for example. I had no idea that the thermos company of my youth had transformed its reliable “hammer tone” green-bodied container of my working days into a plethora of sippy cups that are now the rage in America.

I credit a recent local story by Meg Britton-Mehlisch in the Berkshire Eagle that revealed how this venerable 110-year product was not only invented by William Stanley Jr. but was manufactured in Great Barrington just a stone’s throw from where I sit. It is also true that when the inventor announced his invention back then, he did so through that very same newspaper in 1915!

It was the first vacuum-insulated steel bottle and it found its way into the hands of mainly working men for the next century.

But I digress. Fads, as I have discovered, can be driven by several factors. Social influence, marketing, novelty, word of mouth, and in this age of TikTok, the internet. In the case of the Stanley Cup, it seems the product took off after it was profiled in The New York Times.

From there, social media influencers on a site called #WaterTok, that focuses on hydration, went bonkers over the cup. After all, who wouldn’t want another plastic water cup that not only fits in your car’s cup holder but features a straw and a handle in 26 glorious colors?

By January 2024, videos of what is now called an “adult sippy cup” have been viewed over 201.4 million times on TikTok. Marketers and advertising firms jumped on the bandwagon pitching the product to women as not only a sustainable product, but one that can be part of a woman’s day-to-day accessories, thus the number of colors offered.

“Limited” is a keyword that marketers use time and time again when promoting fads. Not only does it convey a feeling of exclusivity and urgency but usually triggers that fear of missing out on a product. It is what causes fistfights among consumers. The Stanley Quencher certainly has had its share of that kind of behavior. And what fad would not be complete without a growing interest in collecting these $45 reusable water bottles? The Winter Pink Starbucks Collaboration cup is a hot item. Collectors are selling some hard-to-get models like that one for $400 on the resell market. I do wish the Stanley company well in Fad land. It just so happens that I have a black and silver, two-stage lid, one quart, Stanley thermos in mint condition for sale. Do I hear $100, $150, or maybe trade for the Winter Pink Starbucks cup?


Bill Schmick is a founding partner of Onota Partners Inc. in the Berkshires. None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Email him at bill@-schmicksretiredinvestor.com.

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