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The Advocate

The Student News Site of Albuquerque Academy

The Advocate

The Student News Site of Albuquerque Academy

The Advocate

The Rise and Fall of Stanley Cups

What happened to the Stanley Cup?
Haley Pedersen ’25

I’m almost certain that you’ve heard about or seen Stanley cups. These water bottles are everywhere, finding fans both across our campus and our entire country. They certainly aren’t the first we’ve seen explode in popularity either. Remember Hydro Flasks? Nalgenes? These two water bottles may have seen the death of their popularity, but there’s definitely a new cup in town.
Our story begins with William Stanley Jr., an inventor who managed to get himself 129 patents, including one for his very own insulated thermos. His namesake brand then sold various drinkware products for the next 110 years, but to little fanfare. That all changed over the last four years, when Stanley’s Quencher water bottle saw its sales explode, and the company jumped from $75 million in sales in 2022 to $750 million last year – a 1000% increase. So, how did they get so popular, so quickly? According to the New Yorker, Stanley marketing officer and guru Terence Reily, who is also credited with popularizing the now- ubiquitous Crocs, utilized celebrity and influencer partnerships to market the cups. In particular, he utilized the “stitch” feature on TikTok (a feature in which a user can use a few seconds of another video to provide an intro to their own) to boost Stanley’s profile after coming across a video in which a woman’s Stanley Cup – and the ice inside it – survived a car fire. In the video, he offered the woman a replacement car – a move that received widespread praise. The original video has since reached almost 100 million views, while the stitched video has received an additional 57 million, demonstrating the power of social media in Stanley’s rise.
Alternatively, a partnership between The Buy Guide, an Instagram account and associated blog run by influencers Ashlee LeSueur, Taylor Cannon, and Linley Hutchinson, and Stanley has helped their rise to fame. This partnership is credited with reviving the Stanley Quencher and giving it the platform it needed for its meteoric rise. While the company itself had largely deprioritized the sale of Quenchers by 2019, the three women successfully sold 5,000 Quenchers in just five days, leading to a business deal with Stanley. In exchange for promoting the product even more heavily among influencers, they would receive a portion of Stanley’s revenue. The popularity of the cups began to increase over the following two years, reaching a peak in 2023. Fellow community members like Hayden Archuleta ‘26 noted this as well, stating, “Someone gave it a good review on TikTok, and everyone decided to buy one.”
Beyond the social media marketing boost, there are practical benefits to various Stanley products like the Stanley Tumblers and Quenchers that attract consumers. As Archuleta put it, they’re “good cup[s], and [they do] keep the water cold for a long time.” Furthermore, she noted that some other Stanley products outside of the Tumbler have a “flip lid [that] is more practical and overall better because it doesn’t leak,” contributing to the popularity of the company’s products. Her sentiments are echoed across the web. Various factors appeal to wide audiences, including Stanley cups’ popular design and wide color range, features including a convenient handle and dishwasher safe material, and, as Archuleta pointed out, their incredible insulation and durability.
Despite their various features and successful marketing campaigns, Stanley cups are beginning to see their reputation tarnished. Following the release of a special Valentine’s Day Quencher in collaboration with Target earlier this year, videos flooded social media showing eager shoppers stampeding stores just to get their own. While this alone doesn’t seem to be a malicious activity, the near all-out-brawling that occurred certainly is. Furthermore, resellers began to price gouge on sites like eBay, which inspired a San Francisco woman to try and steal five dozen Stanleys – coming in at a whopping $2,500. The criticism doesn’t stop there either – when owners of the water bottles began receiving positive results after testing the bottles for lead, concerns exploded across the internet about the potential for health risks (don’t worry too much – as long as the base of your Stanley isn’t cracked, you should be good). Its popularity may seem endless, but these various issues – combined with the natural life cycle of trends – have led Stanley to see its final days as the water bottle of choice.
Once again, practical concerns play a part as well. Archuleta points out that despite their benefits, Stanley Quenchers “also [leak] and [they’re] big.” She went on to say, “I know I don’t use mine as much as I used to just because it’s a lot to carry and I have to worry about it spilling, and sometimes it’s just a hassle.” So, what’s the solution?
Enter Owala FreeSip water bottles. Already, one can simply look around campus to find a relatively large number of community members using them. Not only does it include several of the features that made Stanleys so incredibly popular, such as its insulative properties, but the company has also set its own course by pointing out its product’s lack of lead on its website – a clear jab at Stanley. Only time will tell how the Owala will fare in an endless sea of water bottle options, but at least one thing is for certain: Stanleys had their moment, but they too must go the way of the Hydro Flask.

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About the Contributor
Haley Pedersen ’25
Haley Pedersen ’25, Graphics Editor
Haley ‘25 is the Advocate’s Graphic Art Editor. Their overall artist career sprouted at a young age from their various dragon sketches and drawings, while their digital art career with The Advocate was initiated around two and a half years ago. As well as an Advocate staff member, Haley is involved with numerous other Albuquerque Academy clubs such as Science Olympiad, Engineering Club, Go Club, and Stargazing Club. Outside of their school activities, Haley is found munching on a Rice Crispy treat, specifically with rainbow sprinkles, while chatting on Discord with friends and watching their Cookie Clicker game on the computer. 

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  • G

    George OvittMay 1, 2024 at 7:24 pm

    Oh good. Another worthless product to consume! (and discard)

    I have an idea: drink out of the water fountain, as human beings have happily done since the Middle Ages.

    Why spend $60 of your parent’s hard-earned bucks on a Yeti water bottle? Who needs these idiotic things? There are 163 lost water bottles lying around campus, so precious that no one can seem to keep track of them. Folly!

    And while I’m here, what is this obsession with drinking water in the first place? When I was a youngster we played baseball all day in the sweltering heat and nipped a few ounces of lukewarm bilge from the hose before dinner. But at AA if you don’t show up with a water bottle you may as well not show up at all. Think of your waterlogged electrolytes!

    We must be the most over-hydrated nation on earth–is all this water consumption making us smarter (ha ha) or healthier (guffaw). No one needs to drink a gallon of water a day, except my dog.

    That’s it for now.
    (satire, all you aguaphiles)

    • U

      Uzair HammadMay 7, 2024 at 7:42 pm

      Dr. Ovitt,

      You captured my thoughts about water consumption exactly, ones that I’ve hesitated to share publicly as I might get “canceled” for them — as you said, “You may as well not show up at all.” This made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. Thanks for this bit of levity.

      Karen, consider making Dr. Ovitt a contributor to “It Ain’t No Zhang.” I don’t think he’d disappoint.