The Mystery of the “Jazz” Cup Design

Jazz Cup Design

The design for these ubiquitous yet largely unnoticed paper cups from the 1990s has attained cult status from a very, very small subset of the American public with the time to think about these things. About two weeks ago one of these people kicked off a search for its designer on Reddit, and Thomas Gounley, a reporter from the Springfield, MO-based News-Leader, decided to pursue the story.

Gounley managed to identify its creator as one Gina Ekiss, a staff artist in the Springfield, Missouri Art Department at cup manufacturer Sweetheart in the early 1990s; Ekiss’s design won an internal competition for new stock graphics, and the rest is barely-remembered history. After tracking her to her home in Aurora, MO, Ekiss graciously and charmingly sat with him to answer the questions the Internet just couldn’t get along without knowing.

Ekiss said she earned a set salary at the time—about $35,000—and there was no bonus for having her design selected. No royalties either, since the company took ownership of the pattern. She worked at Sweetheart until 2002, she said, when the company’s art department was transferred to Baltimore. She wanted to stay in the area. When she left, Ekiss said she was told by Sweetheart that Jazz was the company’s top-grossing stock design in history, dating all the way back to the Lily Tulip days.

Read the full article at