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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

COLUMN: On the Clock: The Stanley cup swarm

opstanleycup-illo

If you’ve been in class the last couple of days, I would be shocked if you haven’t seen the comically large, pastel colored Stanley cups on tables and in the hands of students walking through campus.  

These cups, sold by a brand that has long been established in the world of insulated drinkware, have reached new levels of prevalence and appear to have been a popular gift this holiday season. Their most recognizable tumbler style, the Quencher, ranges between 30 and 50 dollars for a 30 to 40 ounces size. 

While, at face value, the Stanley Quencher is simply a metal cup made to hold drinks like water and coffee throughout the day, many consumers have developed fierce dedication to it. This example of commodity fetishism is concerning — especially given that something as seemingly innnocent as a reusable cup is now causing fights and excessive levels consumption.  

Stanley originated in 1913 when the founder combined vacuum-seal technology with steel to create insulated drinkware. Throughout the last century, the brand primarily marketed to blue-collar working men and outdoor explorers. Their signature design was a deep green and silver color. 

Recently, however, Stanley saw an opportunity to expand their market to a largely new audience — women. Specifically, from the TikToks I’ve seen, they seem especially popular with young to middle-aged women who live in the suburbs  — one of the Quencher’s most touted features is its slim lower half that can fit in car cup holders. 

It makes sense that these cups are attractive to so many people — they insulate, are aesthetically pleasing and are convenient for driving. The most disturbing aspect of the Quencher’s popularity is how deeply loyal and dedicated many women seem to be to the product and brand. 

Several TikTok creators have created videos that show off their massive Stanley collections, often displayed neatly on wall shelves. This overconsumption and brand loyalty seems to connect the ownership of some branded material item with adequate femininity, wealth signaling and social assimilation. 

A video posted this past December shows a crowd of people aggressively flocking to grab from a shelf of Valentine’s Day themed Quencher cups. The creator claims the cups sold out in under four minutes. The excitement to obtain one of these cups has gone so far as to cause fights and people to camp outside of stores. 

The material attachment that many feel to Stanley cups is an exceptional example of a product that has deeply infiltrated the lives of many women, ranging from young girls to their mothers, past a normally acceptable level. 

This level of brand loyalty and idolization, while far from unique or new, is something we must be incredibly wary of, especially when it starts to affect children. Young kids are navigating social interactions and hierarchies for the first time, and throwing the influence of the pressure to consume from social media and influencer marketing into the mix makes this immeasurably more difficult.  

A mother recently posted a TikTok detailing how her nine-year-old daughter was bullied at school for having a tumbler that wasn’t from the Stanley brand. The fact that elementary-aged girls are either learning from the example of older women or what they see on social media regarding the importance of owning a specific branded cup should make us very worried.  

The craze over Stanleys shows just how intensely we can become attached to the idea of a material item for so much more than the practical utility it provides. Some people have even taken to accessorizing the cups using decorative straw covers, snack trays that slide over top, keychains, and even mini backpacks that attach to the cups.  

With the accessorizing and excessive collections, the way people are consuming Stanley cups has become absurd. While far from the most insidious of capitalism and social media’s influences on us, we must be more aware of the impact that the fetishization of items like cups can have — especially when it comes to younger audiences.  

 

Leila Faraday (she/her) is a sophomore studying policy analysis with minors in geography and urban planning. Her water bottle sadly does not own its own backpack to carry its prized posessions.  

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