Robert Leo Hulseman, the man who made all your beer pong marathons possible through his invention of the red Solo cup, died this week at the age of 84. This is a sad day for American culture.
People reports that Hulseman began his long and important career with the Solo Cup Company at the age of 18 before eventually becoming President and CEO, and he invented the red cup—the first “party” cup, said a current VP—in the 1970s. The ingeniousness of it, aside from the striking color, is that the lines within it demarcate fluid ounces for different types of party beverages—one ounce for liquor, five ounces for wine, and 12 ounces for beer. No, I did not know that until right now either! The measurements were not part of the original invention, but somehow they still worked out that way, because the red cup is a truly perfect creation. There will never be a superior party cup.
Hulseman himself, a Catholic, seemed to avoid the trappings of wanton hedonism that the red cup has come to symbolize. Having been married to his wife for 60 years and had a total of 10 children, he devoted his life to Catholic charities and “anti-poverty initiatives.” His obituary describes his temperament as follows:
Throughout his life, Bob was a gentleman who demonstrated class at all turns and a great deal of trust in others. Bob to his friends and Papa to his grandchildren, he was known for his sense of humor, which manifested in many a bad joke, great wit, and his ability to spin a partner on the dance floor. He had a gift for music, which he inherited from his mother, and his family and friends remember fondly the times he sat down at the piano to entertain. As a young man, he was quite an athlete, picking up his father’s talent for polo, and throughout his life he was a competitive tennis player. He counted the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin among his close friends. Robert’s gift for language gave voice to both strong sentiment and a deep spirituality, and he filled countless notebooks with poems that expressed his knowledge of God’s love, his devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the great love he shared with his wife, Sheila.
RIP Bob, a good time guy with a great idea. He changed the lives of every college and college-adjacent person in the US for decades. Jezebel will dominate our enemies in pong tonight in his honor.