Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Dixie Cup Horror


Nothing was ever the same after Mom put up that Dixie Cup dispenser.

At the time, it just seemed like an ordinary day. But looking back, I can see that it was really the beginning of all the trouble. The horror. The terrifying beverages and how they changed us all. Most of all, those red paper cups whose hypnotic powers no one could have suspected.

I can still see her as if it was only yesterday, holding out a red paper cup to the four of us. It seemed to glow brighter than the rest of the kitchen. We had just come in from school, tired and thirsty. Just how thirsty, we hadn't quite realized.

All of a sudden, I forgot all about that F+ I'd just got on my math test.  And the words New Dixie Cup Dispenser started running through my brain over and over. A warm joyful thrill filled me and I felt a huge, kind of stupid smile light up my face like it was Christmas morning and I'd just got that ten-speed bicycle from Sears.

And then I saw that Billy and Bob had stopped fighting about who'd snitched the last Oreo cookie this morning at breakfast. As for Betty Sue - she was about to tell on all of us, because that's what made her real happy at the end of a tough day - well, gosh, even she shut up and just....well, a dreamy, sappy look spread across her face like maple syrup over a pancake. We all felt like that. Wow, Mom - Dixie Cups! In their own little house, too!

Mom held the Dixie cup up for a long time, staring back at us. And then I realized...we were just stuck there. Smiling and staring. Couldn't move a muscle. I heard Mom say, in a new, deep voice: And now you will all  go and do your homework, and there will be no fighting! And no fussing. And then later you will enjoy drinking the special drink I have just invented, from these lovely red paper cups.

Dad too? Betty Sue managed to say through her grin. Mom smiled an even bigger smile, and for the first time I felt a little bit scared. Why, yes, Dad too, she said. And then Mom laughed a strange, new, tinkly laugh.

That is, we thought it was Mom...

[Thank you to Retro Ads and Graphics for this wonderful ad (which is featured at the bottom left of the main page). This looks like a late 50s- early 60s vintage one.]

25 comments:

The Crazy Suburban Mom said...

LOL, old ads...downright scary. Im never sure what persuaded people to actually buy what was advertised. and what you wrote was spectacular :) gave me fits of giggles

Lidian said...

Tracy - This one gave me that little creative chill I get (not often, but sometimes) and I have No idea what I'm going to do with it but - but something! Must do something in writing! And then I think: what can I possibly write, huh?

Am relieved when I do manage to. And it is always really fun, once I see where I am going :)

heidi said...

it's like the dixie crypt-keeper came calling. creepy!

vanilla said...

WOooOOooo!

Dr. Julie-Ann said...

Ohhhh, now I want one with its magical elixer that makes everyone so happy (I promise I won't drive after drinking it).

Grace said...

that was funny...

Jan from BetterSpines said...

OMG what drugs are you on? That was fabulous! Gave me the creeps. And of course RED is such a dangerous colour anyway.

Kathy said...

OMG. So hilarious! I'm with Jan, the post sounded a bit druggy and I loved it!

Incidentally, I'm originally from Easton, PA, where they made Dixie cups for a time. The plant had a GIANT cup on top that you could see for a couple miles ahead on the highway. On approach, all us kids knew we were almost home. The cup always led the way.

Tori Lennox said...

Holy cow!!! We had one of those when I was a kid!!! Luckily, ours was white so it apparently didn't have the same hypnotic effect.

Lidian said...

heidi - That could very well be who it was...

vanilla - Just in time for Halloween! ;)

Dr. Julie-Ann - There's probably a retro recipe for it somewhere in a Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens cookbook!

Grace - It is such a funny ad, can you imagine people seeing it in a magazine in the 50s?

Jan - Nothing but caffeine! ;)

Kathy - I would love to see that giant Dixie Cup! Is it still around?

Tori - We had a white one, too. And it was really very boring.

Kathy said...

Yes, the cup is still there, but I think they painted it plain white (removing the Dixie logo). Next time I'm in the area, I'll get a photo for ya, OK? The building is pretty worn, but I think it's still operational. They use it as some kind of distribution plant.

Jude said...

I'm still looking for another dixie cup holder, can't find one anywhere..."Big hypnotic grin"

Georgina said...

We had a Dixie Cup dispenser in our cottage kitchen and I loved it. A new cup with a new carton character on it each time. Oh Joy! It was like having a lemonade stand right in your own kitchen. It was so innocent back then - but we were on a slippery slope towards java-jackets and oversized plastic frappaccino cups. - G

Lidian said...

Kathy - They ought to paint something like cartoons on it (as per Georgina's comment)! I don't think we have anything like that around here but last summer in Sudbury we got to see the Big Nickel, which does look like a giant nickel (not surprisingly).

Jude - Do they make them any more? My mother got ours in the 70s and I never had Dixie Cups after I left home (clearly, I've been missing something!)

Georgina - I think I remember the cartoons too! Except I think ours had riddles on them. I had forgotten until you mentioned it...

Anne said...

I totally want one of those now. I would love to be able to control my family that way :). Especially if it means I can get the kids to stop fighting.

Beth (Margie and Edna's Basement) said...

Lidian, that was simply awesome. :D You gave Ray Bradbury a run for his money on the unsuspected creepiness of everyday objects. ;) (Stephen King too, I suppose, although thankfully your story didn't involve untold amounts of gore. Unless that happened later, after they all drank from the bedeviled red Dixie cups....)

GoRetroGirl said...

What a great ad. So very environmentally unfriendly today, but when I was a kid I loved drinking out of Dixie cups. Hoodsie cups are even better!

Lidian said...

Anne - I know, it would be really kind of fun at the right times, wouldn't it? And then after awhile, you could just point to the Dixie Cups and everyone would behave! ;)

Beth - This is what comes from reading too many Gothic/sensation novels and true crime books and watching cheesy old movies :)

GoRetroGirl - You could probably rule the world with a Hoodsie cup...

zizzybob said...

My Mom was too cheap to buy Dixie cups. Imagine buying something you just throw away instead of washing and reusing. What were they thinking?

Lidian said...

zizzybob - My mom was like yours, very keen on saving money, but for some reason we did had Dixie Cups. I don't know why.

Amy said...

gosh they look like those cups have made their day!

Flo said...

OMG!! We had one of those when I was a kid and I was the hit of the neighborhood. All my friends wanted to come over and drink. I hadn't thought about that in years!!!! Too funny!!!

Jessica Cangiano said...

I think those kids actually veer on the adorable side, but there is something a bit odd about the idea of children looking sooooo excited over a mere paper cup.


I really hope you have a fantastic weekend, sweet dear!
♥ Jessica

Lidian said...

Jessica - They are kind of cute, but the paper cup thing is just way out of proportion. Which is less cute.

Have a lovely weekend! :)

Cari Hislop said...

If I had an original copy of that ad I'd frame it and put it on my wall!

When I was a little kid (growing up in a trailer park) Dixie Cups (which I'd only seen from afar) seemed the height of sophistication. I still love Dixie cups (I own a dispenser) though they make the water taste funny...hmmm? Maybe there is something in the glue...