Since the 1990s, many coffee cups have been designed with a "Big Apple."
A broad survey of these cups reveals a healthy range in size, color, graphics and text. Upon close analysis a few contiguous elements are apparent:
You should always expect to find some conjugated form of the verb To Serve, as in "It is a pleasure to serve you".
Also look for some representation of classical Greek art or architecture.
Blue, usually with some golden-yellow elements in text, background and/or detailing, is the most occurring color.
There are actually seven different variations on the design, but the most famous cup, the "Anthora," is the one with "we are happy to serve you" printed above three steaming cups of coffee. It was introduced by the Sherri Cup Company in 1963 and it's their biggest seller: Sherri unloads more than 15 million Anthora cups every month. As for the Greek motif, a Sherry employee explains: "At the time, most of the diners and delis were Greek-owned, so the design, which was by an employee, Leslie Buck, was a natural."
29 January 1999, Wall Street Journal, "In the Land of Latte, A Little Coffee Cup Manages to Stay Hot" by Rachel Emma Silverman, pg. B1:
You know the cup: blue and white paper with a Greek key trim. In the middle, the words, "We are happy to serve you" hang in gold over three steaming cups. They are flanked by two urns, each carrying a Socratic figure with an outstretched arm.
The Anthora dates back to 1967 when Leslie Buck, a Sherri (Sherri Cup Co., of Kensington, Conn. - ed.) sales manager who emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1947, designed it to cater to the hundreds of Greek diners then operating in New York City. It 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. The original engraving of the cup design, unchanged for more than 30 years, hangs in his home office.
When the company started in 1965, Mr. Buck, the Anthora's creator, pinpointed the New York market -- chock-full of donut shops -- as a good bet. He hit the streets, persuading distributors and vendors that Sherri cups were the best.
The company stays away from other large cities that may have a big paper-cup plant nearby. Outside New York, where more people use foam cups, the Anthora isn't a big seller -- except to Hollywood props people, who use the cups in movies and TV shows like "NYPD Blue" and "Men in Black" for that New York street look.
13 July 2001, USA Today, pg. D01:
In the days before French presses and cappuccino makers, New Yorkers sipped watery joe from a humble paper cup imprinted with a Greek amphora and the very un-Noo Yawk phrase "We Are Happy to Serve You." The iconic cup is still available at Big Apple bodegas and delis, and now its image is being splashed on baubles and books.
Brooklyn-based Tasty Inc. fashions the cups into clocks and even slaps the likeness on T-shirts. Other New York outfits, Lucky Beggar and Our Name is Mud, have transformed the cup into leather change purses and ceramic mugs, respectively. Pop artist Kevin Berlin designed socks inspired by the cup's blue, white and ochre colors.
New York (NY) Daily News
8 July 2004, New York Daily News, "Playing Games with a cup we love" by Jose Martinez, pg. 2:
NBC plans to stamp its peacock logo and the Olympic rings on nearly 24 million of the iconic blue cups during the Summer Games next month - altering the cups' appearance for the first time since their 1963 debut.
The changes to the Anthora design - with "We Are Happy To Serve You" in Greek-style letters over three steaming cups - left coffee lovers hotter than a fresh cup of joe.
"Leave the cup alone," said Nicole Sambazis, a worker at Ruth's Chris Steak House in midtown. "It's the traditional cup, so don't mess with it."
Like Yankee pinstripes and dirty-water hot dogs, the Anthora cups are a New York fixture. Found in diners, delis and on food carts, they're touted as the "the most famous coffee cups in the world."
8 July 2004, Primedia Insight online exclusive:
Since 1963, the cup has featured Greek images with the phrase "We Are Happy to Serve You" on both sides. This design has not changed since its introduction 41 years ago. The new promotional design retains the "We Are Happy to Serve You" text on one side while replacing it on the other side with NBC's Athens Olympic logo accompanied with the phrase "24 Hours A Day, Aug. 13-29 On the Networks of NBC."
10 April 2005, New York Daily News, pg. 4:
CALL IT MODERN art for the average Joe.
New York's most famous paper coffee cup, the Greek-themed blue-and-white "We are happy to serve you" tumbler, is now on sale as a durable ceramic mug at the Museum of Modern Art.
New York (NY) Times
Leslie Buck, Designer of Iconic Coffee Cup, Dies at 87
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: April 29, 2010
It was for decades the most enduring piece of ephemera in New York City and is still among the most recognizable. Trim, blue and white, it fits neatly in the hand, sized so its contents can be downed in a New York minute. It is as vivid an emblem of the city as the Statue of Liberty, beloved of property masters who need to evoke Gotham at a glance in films and on television.
It is, of course, the Anthora, the cardboard cup of Grecian design that has held New Yorkers’ coffee securely for nearly half a century. Introduced in the 1960s, the Anthora was long made by the hundreds of millions annually, nearly every cup destined for the New York area.
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.) Some later imitators depict fluted white columns; others show a discus thrower.
Word Mark WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU
Goods and Services IC 021. US 002 013 023 029 030 033 040 050. G & S: PAPER CUPS FOR RESTAURANT SUPPLY DISTRIBUTORS. FIRST USE: 19600000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19600000
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 011505 110303 110307
Serial Number 76457424
Filing Date October 10, 2002
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition August 19, 2003
Registration Number 2781561
Registration Date November 11, 2003
Owner (REGISTRANT) Sweetheart Cup Company Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE 10100 Reisterstown Road Owings Mills MARYLAND 21117
Attorney of Record Jeffrey S. Sokol
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE