During those hots days of summer in the 1970s, youngsters had the opportunity to quench their kid-sized thirst – AND learn a new joke at the same time, something sure to make their friends giggle. Dixie Riddle Cups were there whenever you needed a few gulps of water or Kool-Aid to wet your whistle, and they remain fondly remembered to this day.
The story starts with a man named Lawrence Luellen. Shortly after the turn of the century, it was common to share a common drinking source, and often the same cup. He found all that germ sharing a bit unsanitary, so he went and invented a water vending machine, complete with a stack of disposable paper cups. His invention was quite popular, especially on passenger trains, where he charged a penny per cup of water. That company eventually morphed into the Dixie Cup Corporation. Advertisements in the decades ahead reminded the public of how many uses there were for a Dixie Cup, and also the fact that they were unbreakable and disposable, perking up the ears of parents everywhere.
In the early 1970s, the company decided to appeal to the youngest of consumers by printing simple riddles on brightly colored paper cups. You know, something like: “Where do cows go on Saturday Night? To the mooo-vies!” or “What kind of dog has no tail? A hot dog!” Perhaps it wasn’t exactly gut-busting humor, but that didn’t stop these cups from becoming enormously popular. So much so that Dixie eventually introduced Riddle Plates and Riddle Bowl to complete the paper dinnerware line. They also introduced Dixie “Knock-Knock” cups, which specialized in that particular type of joke. Another line that readers might remember were the Dixie “Guinness World Record Cup,” each adorned with facts about an amazing world record.
Sadly, when 1978 arrived, Dixie did away with the riddle cups, much to the disappointment of kids everywhere who had grown accustomed to the humorous cups waiting for them besides the bathroom sink when they brushed their teeth, or next to the fridge when they needed to quench their thirst. It was like having a friend suddenly yanked from your life.
It took Dixie (a company that has passed hands many times over the years) two decades before they realized that people might still hold a bit of fondness for Dixie Riddle Cups. The company held a contest in 1997, looking for joke writers under the age of 12 to help them develop a line of Dixie Riddle Cups for a new generation. Unfortunately, they didn’t last long and soon, the world was once again without these special cups.
We suspect that we have a few readers around these parts that remember drinking from, and laughing with, Dixie Riddle Cups back in the day. Maybe you even remember one of the jokes that you would like to share with the class. If you have fond recollections of these little funny cups, we’d love to hear what you remember in our comments section below.