Red Plastic Dixie Cups and Other Secret American Icons
Posted on March 7, 2010 by pacificyorkshirebird
I thought I’d heard it all. Every single perception lovingly held by British folks about America had been brought to my attention for critical assessment.
Why is it called the the World Series when it is only American teams?
Why are there so many fat people in America? How come you’re not fat?
What on earth is a fraternity or sorority and why do they use Greek letters for their names?
Is your fridge the size of my flat?
Why do you talk about distances in minutes instead of miles?
Yes, I had heard it all. Until today.
Red plastic dixie cups have been called an icon of American culture. Who knew? Not a single British person has ever asked me about red dixie cups. Suddenly they show up in the comments of this blog post from The Guardian about looking for American tv cliches in real life America.
Yes, I have had many a drink from a red dixie cup. We use them at picnics. We used too many in college, usually paired with some scary form of jungle juice or a keg. Of course, the cups also make an appearance in the occasional game of beer pong. I wouldn’t be surprised if some American families even use them on a daily basis in their homes. We even used them at the outdoor rehearsal dinner for our wedding. Oh yeah, rehearsal dinners – another topic that puzzled my British in-laws.
But, it had never occurred to me that these cups were absent from my life in Britain. Nor had I considered that anyone outside of America may have picked up on their presence by watching American tv shows.
I can think of plenty of American icons: Barbie, Coca Cola, Elvis, pick up trucks, McDonald’s, Michael Jackson etc… But red dixie cups? I can’t believe that is the item causing me to rethink whether I fully immersed myself in British culture during my time there. There must still be hundreds of other things about America boggling the minds of our transatlantic friends. Perhaps I will ponder these while I sip my Cherry Coke Zero from a shiny red plastic dixie cup FULL of ice.