Friday, April 30, 2010

before grande there was regular and everyone drank from the same cup


Why you should never ask me for stock advice: Twenty years ago, when Starbucks announced they were on their way to New York, I predicted a fail, sure that New Yorkers were waaaay too savvy to pay premium for coffee when they could get fine brew in this cup for a mere fifty cents. In 1994, when the first Starbucks opened on Broadway, 500 million Greek coffee cups sold each year. A decade later, that number was down more than half, to 200 million. (And my tipster friends in Seattle were laughing all the way to the bank.)

The creator of the 57-year old cup was Holocaust survivor Leslie Buck (born Büch), a paper-cup salesman attempting to break into the New York diner market in 1963. Noting that most owners of diners were Greek, he concocted a design based on the image of the Greek vase known as an amphora. The cup soon became ubiquitous on the streets of New York, standard-issue at diners, coffeeshops, lunchtrucks and coffee carts, a requisite item not only for coffee-toters, but for propmasters for TV shows and films set in the city.

Buck passed away Monday, but died knowing that his Anthora (the altered name, due to his Eastern European accent) survives, albeit too often in the hand of the person next to you on the subway, who you hope keeps it upright as the train takes a curve.

14 comments:

dan said...

i am the guy who took doqwn Herman rosenblat.....dear RIp leslie buck
was embellsihgin,,,i got proof ask em hiw


This is a great heartwarming story, but am I the only one on Planet
Gullible who thinks Leslie Buck really designed this cup himself?
Please! Most likely this is a good family yarn, perhaps created by the
dear departed Mr Buck himself, not to boast, but to tell his kids a
good story. I am almost positive one man did not design this cup and I
am 99 percent sure Mr Buck did not design it. Let me be wrong. Prove
it. I will admit it. I believe that Mr Buck hired someone to design it
for him and it is a great design, but Leslie did not design it. He had
not design background for one thing. I hate to say this, but old
people like to invent stories. This is a good family story. But this
newspaper should do better vetting and fact checking. NY Times too did
a nice story, but i will tell you why i know or feel this story is not
true. I am Jewish. I know Jewish people. We are a good people. We also
like the invent stories. Many Jewish families have invented family
legends. My grandma Bella told me were descended for example from the
great Rabbi Gaon of Vilna. Not true. We Blooms were peasants. Also she
said we were related to Mendelsogn the composer. Also not true. I am
quite sure the Buck family, and condolences to them first of all, are
part of this family invention myth thing that we Jews do sometimes. i
am sure other immigrant groups do it too. it's cool. but did Mr Buck
actually sit down, design the cup and manufacture it. No way. He hired
a freelance designer. If he really designed it, it stands to reason,
for one thing, he would have copyrighted it and trademarked it and it
would be written about before. Sorry, folks, this is sweet schmalktz
family story as legend, not truth. Am i the only meshuganah luftmensch
to catch this whopper of a tale? I know because i am the guy who also
knew Herman Rosenblat's Holocaust hoax book last year was a hoax and
it was cancelled before publciation because of me. True story. Ask
Gabe Sherman.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Dan, I'm glad this story excited your passionate interest. Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts here. It's certainly possible that the NY Times (from which I took this information) was misled. But if so, I don't believe it's because the bereaved family is Jewish.

dan said...

Hi Helen, i agree, of course, thanks for note. i am in Taiwan. far away. of course, this had nothing to do with Mr Buck's Jewish background, i hope i didn't say that, did i? I didn't mean to. I am jewish jewish jewish! I am Sholom Aleichem's great grandson, that's how Jewish i am, danny bloom, tufts 1971, (1949-2032). May i rest in peace then. No no, i just meant that the Times reporter got taken for a ride on this one, a cute sweet ride, i love it, but in the interests of media accruacy, we need to set the record straight. can you on yuour blog add an update, yuour POV? but of course, this has nothing to do with being Jewish...all families have their own family stories and they serve a purpose, inside the family! but when they go viral as this story did with FRONT PAGE obit in the Times, i mean that is prime real estate, and the entire blogosphere is now lit up with blogs saying WOW WHO KNEW? THIS HERO INVENTED THE COFFEE CUp and this is patently trademarkedly not true at all...so it was sloppy reporting, but cute sweet schmaltz Times story, and the reporter is jewish, so she knows this is a fib but she took the bait, why not, even the 1995 Times website says it was a team that created the cup does not mention Mr Buck's name at all in 1995, now this? come on? but yes, a lovely story and as Sholom Aleichen's great grandson, I loved the obit. Just saying it aint true. As a media guy, i just wanted to tell the world we been hoodwinked and please revise your blogs everyone but keep the main theme which is tha the anthora cup is an icon and yes, Mr Buck has something to do with it, EVEN IF he did not exactly DESIGN it himself. that's all.

dan said...

maybe UPDATE LIKE THIS

just a minor tweak to reflect truth in advertising....smile

ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE TEAM THAT CREATED THE 57-year old cup was Holocaust survivor Leslie Buck (born Büch), a paper-cup salesman attempting to break into the New York diner market in 1963. Noting that most owners of diners were Greek, HIS TEAM concocted a design based on the image of the Greek vase known as an amphora. The cup soon became ubiquitous on the streets of New York, standard-issue at diners, coffeeshops, lunchtrucks and coffee carts, a requisite item not only for coffee-toters, but for propmasters for TV shows and films set in the city.


Buck passed away Monday, but died knowing that HIS TEAM'S Anthora (the altered name, due to his Eastern European accent) survives, albeit too often in the hand of the person next to you on the subway, who you hope keeps it upright as the train takes a curve.

dan said...

i found an even more terrible smoking gun read here:

this entire obit was cooked, but it meant well.....

Rashomon verisons of family lore:

1. NYTIMES OBIT: cited above: "Mr. Buck’s cup was blue, with a white
meander ringing the top and bottom; down each side was a drawing of
the Greek vase known as an amphora. (“Anthora” comes from “amphora,”
as filtered through Mr. Buck’s Eastern European accent, his son
said.)"

BUT....

2. NEWYORKISH.COM, cited above: "The Anthora .....was inspired by an
article about a sunken Greek ship. The cup's name, Anthora, came from
a misprint. In the story, the urns were called "anthora," rather than
"amphora." "I took the name," says Mr. Buck, the cup's creator, who
retired from Sherri in 1992. "

Where does truth lie? Who actually sat down at a design table and came
up with the design that was then sent to the paper firm that made the
cups from said design? Most likely a designer, professional, hired by
Mr Buck. So he could reliably be credited as the producer of the cup's
design, or the team leader that came up with it, but whether he
actually, as a non artist who never designed anything before ....or since.....,
actually "designed" the cup is doubtful....

Still, whatever, all hail Leslie Buck, American hero!

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Dan, appreciate your enthusiastic response and volunteer edit. Would that you could write all my posts for me ;) Were you part of the team? Or, did you know anyone on it?

dan said...

No, not part of any team. I never even heard of this cup until a few days ago. I lived in NYC winter of 1971 working as a foot messenger for Empire Messenger Service for US$1.85 per hour and living in a flophouse hotel in the Village. Them were my salad days. Dreamed of getting a job with a big PR firm in the city but nobody would hire me even with a nice degree from Tufts 1971 summa cumma something. No connections. My sister, married to New York money family, did manage to get me an interview with some big PR firm but they took one look at me -- sensitive, literary type -- and said no thanks. So I kept delivering packages for the messenger service. Fun. Delivered letters and things to Leonard Berntstein's 5th Avenue home, i had to take the servant's lift up, and to Carly Simon in person at her apartment one day when she had a new album out. But no, i never heard on amthora anthora whatever. I drank coffee from ceramic cups I guess. SMILE

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Sounds like you've had a pretty interesting life, too, Dan. From NYC messenger to the stars...to Tokyo. Best wishes and may your obit be many years away.

dan said...

Thanks for all notes here, Ad Maven! RE: " Best wishes and may your obit be many years away."

Thanks for obit far away too!

I already carved my tombstone here in Taiwan, it reads:

Danny Bloom (1949 - 2032)

So i aint worried. (other than my heart attack last November and the stent in my heart now...keeping myu ticker ticking....sigh) o life!

dan said...

this just in:

Dear Mr. Bloom,

I am a lawyer at The New York Times Company. I understand that you
have questioned the accuracy of our recent obituary of Leslie Buck. I
am unaware of any basis for your claim of inaccuracy, and we believe
the story accurately sets forth the facts of Mr. Buck's life, but I
would be happy to review any information that you have to suggest the
article is inaccurate.

Sincerely,



Mcxxxxx
Vice President & Assistant General Counsel
The New York Times Company
620 Eighth Ave.
New York, NY 10018
212-xxxxx

dan said...

and today, he writes me a much sweeter note: calling me Dan not Mr Bloom and signing his name David not FULL NAME ESQUIRE as in first letter; smile:

''Dear Dan,

Thanks for the emails. I am out of the office today and tomorrow for a trial. I'll take a look at the information you sent when I get a chance.

David''

dan said...

Mr. Bloom,

Thank you for sending this to us. If you have specific examples of how you feel Mr. Buck's obituary was inaccurate, please send them to us as well.

Thank you again for engaging us in this.

Sincerely,
Michael McElroy

Office of the Public Editor

The New York Times

Note: The public editor's opinions are his own and do not represent those of The New York Times.

dan said...

Mr. Bloom,

Thank you for sending this to us. If you have specific examples of how you feel Mr. Buck's obituary was inaccurate, please send them to us as well.

Thank you again for engaging us in this.

Sincerely,
Michael McElroy

Office of the Public Editor

The New York Times

Note: The public editor's opinions are his own and do not represent those of The New York Times.

dan said...

Ad BRoad, today a top obit writer emails me: re all this:

I am an obit writer for a major newspaper in the Midwest.

First of all, the few people I know who have written to Margalit Fox
have never received replies from her. A lot of reporters, editors and
publishers receive so many emails that they don’t answer many of them.
So don’t take her non-response to you personally. She never replies to anyone!
That’s just the way she is. But I am sure she read your emails. All 51 of them!

However, it appears that she forwarded your note to her superiors.
Otherwise, how could a NYTimes lawyer know about this and why would the Times LEGAL
dept then write to you?

Also, unless you wrote directly to NYT Public Editor Michael McElroy,
it would seem reasonable that Margalit or her superiors forwarded your
message to McElroy.

The message you received from McElroy seems perfectly reasonable to
me. The Times can’t print a correction or clarification without some
documentation.

First, they’ll want you to specify the errors in the obit.

Then they’ll ask:

How do you know these are errors?

Where’s the documentation?

Are you personally connected to the design or co-designers of the cup?

And the biggie: Are you or someone else going to sue the Times for the
error(s)? That would be the reason for the lawyer’s involvement.

*** Yes, Danny. Obits should be fact-checked and vetted the same as
news stories.

I expect the Margalit found information in the Times archives to
support what she wrote and did not base her story on what Mr. Buck’s
son had to say.

*** Personally, I would not have used words like “creator” or
“designer” in describing Mr. B. He was a salesman and marketing
person, not an artist or inventor. It’s obvious to me that the
cup-makers at the Sherri company designed the cup itself.

I’m guessing that Mr. B. came up with the idea of using Grecian art on
the cup. He may have sketched his notion of what the cup should look
like, then handed it to an artist who finished the job.

One should not blame Margalit for the language used. Often, editors or copy
editors will change or drop a word or two from an obit and completely
distort the facts.

I am reminded of an obit from the 1990s which carried the headline,
“The creator of the Hokey Pokey.”

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Hokey Pokey is a dance that
has been popular with children and adults in the U.S. since around
1948. The dance existed long before that in England and Australia.
American soldiers were introduced to it during World War II.

Anyway, the “creator” of the Hokey Pokey did not actually create the
dance. He got a U.S. copyright for the song he wrote about it. His
obit never said he created or invented the dance. The editor who wrote
the headline did that.