The need for disposable utensils arose as early as the beginning of the 20th century, when, due to the common use of shared metal mugs and cutlery in schools, and it’s obvious unhygienic attributes, resulted in an unprecedented and unexpected mortality rate increase among schoolchildren.
This problem was highlighted in his study by an American doctor Alvin Davison, as well as by Hugh Moore, who later published an article exposing the unhygienic nature of such dishes and came up with a “safe cup”, which was a cone-shaped sheet of cardboard.
Moore presented his invention to the Chicago entrepreneur Lawrence Luellen, who, in turn, improved it by adding a diametric, rounded shape bottom. In 1908, Luellen officially patented this new invention, and in partnership with Moore, he created the “Dixie Paper Cup Company”. The object of this newly founded company was to dispense pure drinking water in a new, clean, and individual drinking cup via a vending machine that would be connected to a water cooler.
Thus, by 1960, paper cups were widely distributed, bringing an annual income up to $ 50 million a year.
Dixie-cup-shaped water tower on top of the plant in Easton, Pennsylvania in the 1920s.
What about the disposable plates?
The person generally credited with the invention of the paper plate is Martin L.Keyes. In the late 19th century, Keyes is believed to have witnessed workers at a veneer plant in New York eating their lunches on thin waste pieces of maple veneer. These workers’ ingenuity inspired Keyes to start thinking about disposable dishware.
With the help of family members and other investors, Keyes formed the Keyes Fibre Company and began producing paper plates in 1904. Soon, other competitors entered the market, making cheaper paper plates to compete with those made by Keyes. Keyes maintained a high-quality product, however, and his sales got a boost from an unfortunate tragedy: the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 created a huge demand for paper plates.
Thanks to Martin Keyes, disposable dinnerware can be found in the kitchens of most households. Their convenience is unparalleled and their price, extremely affordable.