On Dixie Cups

This is a letter written to Charlie Sykes of The Bulwark. I like words and language and I found this very interesting. And for your time, here is a picture of one of my favorite automobiles. Nothing says Murica like the ‘76 Eldorado:

1976 Cadillac Eldorado
1976 Cadillac Eldorado


I was amused to see the Dixie Chicks changed their name, dropping the Dixie, and thought the video they made, “March March,” was rather good (even if my own opinion about marching is a little jaded).


I also heard there’s talk that Winn Dixie will be changing its name. Actually, I believe that talk preceded the current protests, arising after the SE supermarket chain was bought by another company that wanted to re-brand because the old Winn Dixie wasn’t doing all that well.

So I am clearly not the only one who from all this also wondered about Dixie Cups (a product name I think would be difficult to rebrand without affecting sales, and one that has now become pretty generic). As those investigating will have discovered, that name actually has little to do with the Old South; Dixie Cups was the name a company chose for their paper cups because its NY office was in the same building as that of another company, Dixie Dolls.

But the interesting thing about those Dixie Cups that you may not have heard: though the disposable paper cups were developed by a water fountain maker a few years before they got their new name, Dixie Cups’ big sales came as the first disposable “health cups” at the time of the last pandemic, the 1918 flu.

Also, there is the dixie of British English, a term for a kettle the British army used on the front in WWI etc. This term seems to be completely unrelated to Dixie Cups or the Old South; it comes from Hindi and was corrupted into English as dixie.

Etymologically yours,
Eileen Oshinsky, a new reader at The Bulwark


Share This Story

Get our newsletter