Robert L. Hulseman, Inventor of the Solo Cup, Dies at 84
Robert L. Hulseman, a corporate executive who developed the sturdy red Solo cup that became indispensable at picnics, tailgate parties and barbecues and inspired a song by the country singer Toby Keith, died on Dec. 21 at his home in Northfield, Ill. He was 84.
His son Paul said the cause was complications of several strokes.
Mr. Hulseman spent nearly all of his career at the Solo Cup Company in Lake Forest, Ill., a maker of disposable cups, plates and bowls. One of his other legacies was helping to create a coffee cup lid that may now be as prevalent as the Solo cup.
The company’s products might have been seen as unremarkable party essentials in a throwaway age if not for the creation of the Solo cup in the mid-1970s. It became a mainstay at beer keggers, where its size, typically 16 ounces, durability and opacity were prized attributes.
Mr. Hulseman preferred that his cups be used at family outings, not at rowdy, boozy blowouts.
“The cup’s design was for strength,” Paul Hulseman said in an interview. “Not for a shot, a wine and a beer.”
Mr. Keith seized on the cup’s popularity in 2011 when he recorded “Red Solo Cup.” The song is a silly celebration of the cup’s critical place at a kegger, of the sort seen in the song’s video featuring some of his well-known friends, including Sammy Hagar, Ted Nugent, Larry Bird and Roger Clemens.
“It’s the stupidest song I’ve ever heard, but it’s so stupid it’s good,” Mr. Keith told The Boot, a country music website, in 2014.http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/busin ... ottom-well