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January 20, 2006

Drinkthink: Keeping it hot and cold

Paper cups at the water cooler are passé, Styrofoam is politically incorrect, and glasses from home don’t fit in those nifty cup holders most cars come with these days.

Since the advent of the insulated container most know as the Thermos, manufacturers and marketers have worked diligently to hone the art of the portable drink container, providing a thirsty public with everything from insulated, stainless steel coffee mugs to the hotly contested koozie, or insulated can/bottle holder (more on that later).

The idea of the “portable potable” came to being in the form of an insulated flask invented in 1892 by Sir James Dewar, a scientist at Oxford University. The “vacuum flask” was first manufactured for commercial use in 1904, when two German glass blowers formed Thermos GmbH. They held a contest to name the “vacuum flask” and a resident of Munich submitted “Thermos,” which came from the Greek word “therme” meaning “heat.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Nowadays, it’s not enough that a cup has a lid to prevent spillage: It also must keep a drink cold, or hot, and it doesn’t hurt if it reflects the owner’s personality, either.

It also has to be just the right size, according to James “Buffalo” Gaffney, a driver for KiBois Transport.

“My insulated cup holds 100 ounces,” said Gaffney, who, by the way, stands 7 feet and weighs 380 pounds. “I don’t have to refill it, and it stays cold.”

Gaffney also doesn’t worry about leaving his mug lying around.

“I just leave it sitting out at work,” he said. “If anyone goes to touch it, one of the secretaries always tells them ‘Hey, that’s Buff’s cup,’ and they leave it alone.”

What once used to be filled with soda now holds water for Gaffney.

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