The Inventor Of Your College Experience Has Died

Photo: Courtesy of Hulseman Family
The red Solo Cup is a marvel of modern engineering. They're cheap without being flimsy, sturdy enough to reuse but disposable enough to leave behind, and an instant indication that you're at a certain kind of party. They're a mousetrap, essentially: Cheap enough and good enough. They're so popular that a meme emerged saying that the famous lines are demarcations for alcohol servings. They're not, but the Cup is still great.

Last Wednesday, inventor Robert L. Hulseman has died. Hulseman's father founded the Solo Cup Co. in 1936, and it was a family business until sold to Dart Industries in 2012. Hulseman invented the iconic Cup in the 1970s, using a line of colors but mainly selling the iconic red.

But that wasn't his only invention. The inventor is also responsible for plastic cups used to serve ketchup and other condiments, and the Traveler lid put on Starbucks cups to keep them from spilling.

So when he passed quietly after a series of strokes, a chunk of American history went with him. His contributions went largely unacknowledged by popular history while alive, but he represents a uniquely American spirit. He saw a problem and solved it with a product that's cheap, easy to use, and completely flawless.

Hulseman might not ever have the cachet of Steve Jobs or the bravado of Elon Musk, but he probably changed your life more than the pair put together. For that, we owe him our thanks.
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