History of Dixie® Cups & Plates: An Interactive Board

For nearly a century, we've created products that make lives easier. From the first disposable paper cup to our strong and stylish modern plates, the history of Dixie® is one of bringing people together.

Keep scrolling to explore our interactive history.
An idea to stop the spread of germs
By the turn of the century, scientists discovered that using communal cups at public drinking fountains was spreading deadly diseases like cholera and diphtheria. A Boston lawyer named Lawrence Luellen had an idea: what if there were a machine that could dispense single-use paper cups so everyone could drink from the fountains without sharing germs?
History of Dixie® from 1907
The Health Kup
Luellen and his brother-in-law Hugh Moore moved to New York in 1910 to incorporate the Individual Drinking Cup Company and hired engineers to develop machinery that could produce paper cups untouched by human hands. They called the revolutionary new product the Health Kup, and dispensers installed in offices, schools, trains and more sold them for a penny apiece.
Health Kup packaging
Becoming Dixie®
With growing competition from other paper cup manufacturers, the company needed a more memorable name for its cups. Sharing production space in New York with the Dixie Doll Company, Moore asked the dollmakers in 1916 if he could borrow the name for his cup. The name—catchy, short and replete with American associations—stuck.
The first Dixie® cup
Fighting a global pandemic
Following World War I, the disease wiped out an estimated five percent of the world’s population and the need for safe, clean Dixie® Cups was greater than ever. The company bought seven acres of land near Easton, Pennsylvania and opened an airy 80,000 square foot factory in 1921. That same year, the company introduced the first packaged line of Dixie® Cups for home use
History of Dixie® from 1918
The Big Idea
Luellen and Moore weren’t done with revolutionary ideas. In 1923, they developed a franchise plan with ice cream makers across America to create the first individually packaged ice cream cups. Until then, the frozen treat could only be sold in bulk or by the scoop at an ice cream parlor—but with this new innovation, any shop with a freezer could now sell ice cream cups for a nickel.
About Dixie® Ice Cream Cups
Dixie® Circus
Ice cream-filled Dixie® cups continued to sell well throughout the decade, bolstered by a promotional campaign just as innovative than the product itself. Beginning in 1928, the Dixie® Circus, a Dixie® sponsored commercial radio show, introduced children across America to a colorful cast of friendly circus animals whose pictures they could collect under the lids of their ice cream cups.
About Dixie® Ice Cream Cups
The Adam Period
With the technology it developed to create printed cups for ice cream, the company ushered in a new era of beautifully designed cups in the late 1920s. The neoclassical designs of the Adam Period would define the look of Dixie® Cups for decades to come.
The Dixie® Adam Period
Defending America
World War II elevated Dixie® to national hero. With American armed forces abroad, the sanitary, disposable cups were being delivered to the front lines by the millions. Back home, the collectible ice cream cup lids featured pictures of bombers and tanks to support the troops.
About Dixie® during World War II
End of the war leads to new opportunity
Following World War II, vending machines were seen as convenient but horribly erratic, so The Coca-Cola Company requested Dixie® help develop an efficient dispensing mechanism for their machines. While the company had been founded on the importance of sanitation, it was this desire for convenience that would help it push into the modern era.
History of Dixie® from 1945
Fast Food Frenzy
As the fast food industry began to emerge in the late 1940s, Dixie® responded to the changing landscape and met the growing demands by producing high-quality, custom containers for thousands of restaurants, lunch counters and more, expanding their commercial business further than ever before.
Dixie® does fast food
Melody Design
In 1951, Dixie® retired the Adam Period look after more than two decades, introducing the new, more modern Melody design for all of its standard cups. That same year, the company began to move its advertising focus to the burgeoning medium of television, capitalizing on TV personalities who would promote Dixie® products on their shows.
The Dixie® Melody Design
Cocktail Time
One of the most “entertaining” new products Dixie® introduced in the 1952 was its special Cocktail Time set. The strikingly-styled set included exclusively processed cups designed for alcoholic beverages in three sizes, as well as a dozen rose gold “holderettes” that fastened to the bottom of the cups for increased stability.
About Dixie® Cocktail Time
"It's smart to be informal"
That’s what Emily Post, the Mistress of American Manners,said at least. Dixie® adopted the saying in the 1950s to drive home the advantages of using their easy, informal, disposable cups: no dirty dishes, no broken glasses, no time wasted.
History of Dixie® from the 1950s
Out on the town
With the “food away from home” trend continuing its steady growth, Dixie® responded by producing its first plates, designed for disposable meal service. The plates satisfied customers and restaurants alike with their ease and efficiency, and Dixie® became recognized as a leading innovator in the foodservice business.
First Dixie® disposable plates
BrewMaster Cup
After ten years of research and experimentation, Dixie® released the first paper cup that could retain the character and flavor of beer without a cardboard aftertaste. The new BrewMaster cup, with its breakthrough sealant became a staple at sporting events, amusement parks and, of course, informal home get-togethers.
About Dixie® BrewMaster Cups
Finally successful in getting the cardboard taste out of beer, Dixie® tackled coffee next, developing a “miracle” polyethylene lining that revolutionized disposable hot beverage cups. The glossy, mirror-like finish didn’t stain, didn’t smell like glue, didn’t buckle or sweat, and most importantly of all, didn’t affect the taste of your morning cup of joe.
About Dixie® Mira-Glaze Cups
Starflite Design
The 1960s saw Dixie® develop a new method of full-color printing on their cups. The most advanced printing and color photo reproduction the paper cup industry had ever seen, Dixie® used it to produce eye-popping new patterns like the Atomic Age-styled Starflite design.
About Dixie® Starflite Cups
Dixie®, the pop culture phenomenon
The popularity and ubiquity of Dixie® products meant that the company was starting to start trends of its own. A girl group called The Dixie Cups had the hit song of 1964 with “Chapel of Love,” while in fashion, John Moore, the young designer who created Mrs. Lyndon Johnson’s inaugural ensemble, introduced the Dixie Cup hat.
History of Dixie® from 1964
A brand-new logo
In 1969, after half a century, Dixie® introduced a new logo designed by famed graphic designer, Saul Bass. Famous for his movie posters and intro sequences for Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese and some of the most recognizable corporate logos in the world, Bass created a bold, clean, symmetrical logo that brought the look of Dixie® into the modern age.
Saul Bass Dixie® logo
Groovy new designs
With the new Saul Bass logo as its guiding star, Dixie® continued to introduce bold new designs to its growing catalog. The company made waves in the foodservice industry with the introduction of its colorful, surf-inspired Swirl pattern, available across a full line of matched foodservice products.
About Dixie® Swirl Cups
Dixie® Riddle Cups
What’s the same outside but different inside? Dixie® Riddle Cups! Created in 1970, every box had different riddles and fun cartoon characters printed on the brightly colored children’s cups. Riddle-adorned plates and bowls followed before the trend ran its course, though a brief comeback in the 1990s introduced the fun-filled cups to a new generation of kids.
About Dixie® Riddle Cups
An era of exploration
As the demand for disposable paper plates grew, experiments with different shapes, sizes and styles starting in the 1970s led to shapes like the “super ellipse.” Eventually, Dixie® would make a full-time commitment to special eight-sided plates.
History of Dixie® trying new shapes
Something a little stronger
Recognizing a need for an extra strong plate that could be used for heavy, messy and hot meals, the Dixie® brand split into two distinct lines in 1987: a heavy duty dinner plate called Superware, and a casual use lunch plate called Livingware. The two lines would go through a number of name changes before finally landing on today’s Dixie® Everyday and Dixie Ultra®.
About Dixie® Superware
Dixie® Select
The introduction of the Dixie® Select program in 1995 delivered unique, beautiful designs to foodservice operators in a variety of options. The customized stock designs made it possible for companies to build brand awareness and differentiate themselves from the competition while still using dependable, premium-quality Dixie® products.
About Dixie® Select
Introducing the Soak Proof Shield™
In the environmentally-conscious 1990s, Dixie® moved to eliminate solvents from the manufacturing process. A new water-based polymer system was developed that created a soak-proof barrier at a very low coating weight, making the new Soak Proof Shield™ friendly for the environment and for microwave use.
About Dixie® PerfecTouch®
When a Dixie® Quality Engineer was experimenting with how to make cold cups stronger in 1997, he accidentally stumbled upon one of the company’s biggest breakthroughs. Drying a cup with a hot air gun, the surface began to bubble. He sent the cup to the research and development team and a few thousand hours of engineering and product development later, the PerfecTouch® cup was born.
About Dixie® PerfecTouch®
Revolutionizing foodservice again
In the early 2000s Dixie® once again set new standards in the foodservice industry with an entire portfolio of “to go” products. The uniquely configured Dixie Liddles® portion cups sped preparation time, while cutlery Dense Packs made restocking easier for foodservice employees and more sanitary for customers.
History of Dixie® from the 2000s
Ongoing innovation
At Dixie®, we’re always looking for inspiration for the next great product. We get input from multiple sources, from focus groups to customer requests to business studies and more. We’re always learning and working to develop products that fill the customer’s needs while providing excellent value. Our goal is to continually improve our products and the lives of our consumers.
About Dixie® innovation