Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

What is TikTok’s obsession with the Stanley Cup?

The toxicity of overconsumption and trends on TikTok.

Starbucks and Stanley have released a limited edition Valentines Day Cup that has people lining up outside of Targets from one in the morning to receive it. If you have not been on TikTok and seen the Stanley cup, then lucky you. But what is TikTok’s obsession with this cup and what does it say about the consumption of products in the rise of the social media age?

Stanley was founded in 1913 by Willian Stanley Jr, who created the vacuum flask that was used for more than keeping influencers’ Dr Pepper cold all day. Its early uses included being used by pilots in WWII, used on deep sea explorations and used in the cattle industry to transport bull semen. The Quencher bottle (that TikTok has come to refer more commonly as The Stanley) has shifted the companies original consumer demographic to be predominantly women over men, and the sales of the Quencher Bottle rose 275% from 2020 to 2021. The company is a trusted and very sturdy bottle and container company, yet the rise of popularity on TikTok has prompted the specific viral cup to be very overpriced, and has many people buying multiple versions of the cup just for the different colours. 

The Quencher bottle is a whopping 635 gram 40 ounce flask. Accompanied with a handle to help you carry the weight and a straw, coming in a variety of colour combinations. A simple search of the Stanley Cup on TikTok brings up hundreds of results, with celebrities such as Olivia Rodrigo using them. Customers are laminating the label that comes on the cup, and one user even shows that she has around 14 Quencher Bottles in different colours, which is worth over 600 dollars. Their novelty has not subsided just yet, as the aforementioned StarbucksxStanley has caused such a craze that people are willing to queue for hours. 

The collaboration cup is pretty basic, a pink version of the Quencher bottle that has Starbucks disposable cup writing on it. The cup will not be restocked and so this is people’s only chance to get the same pink version of a cup that they already have. Videos show people camping outside Targets in the cold weather, shops have limited it to two cups per customer and there are multiple people running towards the shelves to swipe the product in single file lines. Resale of the cup is going for over 100 dollars in some instances. This is not the first time that Stanley fans have camped out for the cup, as it happened around the same time last year with another valentines day cup release. 

This cup is a case study of many issues with consumption. Perhaps a more nuanced view of American consumption, but it still allows us to examine the effects of social media influences. Firstly, there has always been a prevalent promotion for people to buy reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones. But if one is buying 15 different versions of a reusable bottle does it make it more environmentally friendly than a plastic bottle? In continuation, many have a problem with this collaboration happening in the wake of the Palestine-Israel conflict, as Starbucks did not ally itself with Starbucks Workers United’s pro-Palestinian stance. Pro-Palestinian causes have taken stances to boycott the company, but with this release many have forgotten their stance. 

Many spend their disposable income on products that are trendy in order to show that they have money, to gain points in the “how many trendy products do you have” race. Yet, those who do not have the same amount of disposable income as others can put themself into a spending hole and spiral into overconsumption. The bottle shows the ways that trends move so fast in the age of short form content like TikTok. What happened to all the HydroFlasks that people were obsessed with back in 2019? They’re probably just sitting behind the Stanley Cups that will inevitably be replaced with the next trendy water bottle. The overconsumption of this one product is not just an isolated occurrence. One can fall into a spiral of all the “trendy” products that are so needed right now such as Drunk Elephant skincare. It has become such a problem that some social media accounts are considered “deinfluencers”, to help stop others from consuming these types of products. Those who collect the cups are not just buying a new water bottle, they are hoarding. These cups are made to last, so why would one need thirty bottles in slightly different colours. Once the hype dies down, we will be seeing these cups in charity shops and landfills. But one needs to consider the first step in helping to save this planet, which is Reduce. By all means, buy a Stanley if you need a new bottle, but perhaps just buy one.