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Stanley Mayhem: Bigger Than its Mega-sized Tumbler

Reusable bottles are an ever-growing industry with different brands taking over the number one spot every few years. In a strange twist to the competition, the Stanley brand has overtaken the Hydro Flask’s with its redesigned Tumbler. What was once a coffee cup essential for blue-collar workers has become the hottest (and coldest) cup flying off of shelves.

However, this rise to fame wasn’t completely unprecedented. In 2020 Terence Reilly, partly responsible for Crocs ascend from an ugly shoe to a fashion staple, left his executive position at the shoe company to become president of Stanley. His strategy was simple: use social media and influencer marketing to promote the Tumbler, now known as the Quench line. Although initially released in 2016, its strategy turned it into a colossal phenomenon in 2020.

From nurses and teachers to teens and celebrities, Stanley’s mega-sized indestructible cup has transcended its use as a drink for working people to an everyday essential in 2024. Its popularity is more prevalent than ever as the Seattle-based brand’s revenue shot up “from $70 million to more than $750 million in four years” According to CNBC.

Since its rise to fame on TikTok, people have gotten a strong attachment to the 40-ounce Tumbler. Social Media users are sharing their love for the brand by showcasing their colorful collection of Stanley cups, with #Stanleycup gaining over 6 billion views. It has since become a staple of fashion as social media users integrate their Tumblers to compliment outfits of a similar style.

But has Stanley fever gone too critical? 

Earlier this January, Stanley had collaborated with Starbucks to sell two limited edition Valentine Tumblers in Target stores. Unsurprisingly, the collab was a huge hit amongst customers as they flocked into the stores to get their hands on the cherry red and pink Tumblers. However, the craze was anything but cool with customers and employees speaking about their negative experience in the stores, some stating that there have been altercations in stores.

In a live stream capturing the frenzy in store, one customer wanted the Tumbler so badly that he hopped over the Target Starbucks counter for it and escaped while the doors were being obstructed by the angry mob. 

Target had even tried to put a “two per guest” limit on the Valentine’s Day collection to prepare for its anticipated release, but that only eased the mayhem by a small margin as they would sell out in minutes at some locations.

The Stanley reselling market has piqued the interest of many people, with resellers selling new and old Stanleys for a huge price. Resellers are asking for up to $200 for the Valentine’s Day collection. 

Ebay listings of Stanley x Starbucks cups.

Some people are willing to commit crimes for this investment as one woman near Sacramento was pulled over by police for allegedly stealing 65 stolen Stanley cups. The cups were “valued at nearly $2,500,” and the police posted a photo on Facebook of the cups being displayed on their car, eerily similar to how TikTokers are showing off their collections. 


Photo from City of Roseville Police Department Facebook

Reaction Online

With how popular the Tumblers are, it also comes with its critics. The company claims that it will use 90% recycled stainless steel for its products, but users are arguing that the overconsumption of these steel cups doesn’t serve the environment enough justice. Despite one of its driving points being “Built for Life”, the collecting spirit of the Stanley fanbase has given rise to the question of if the fame has blown it from the realm of sustainability and if it’s even an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable water bottles

What is also sparking this conversation is the fate of all trends, that is irrelevancy. Some TikTok users are posting videos presenting the hydro flask as a relic of the past. Although the Hydro Flask did not awaken cabinet-sized collections, its treatment as irrelevant has shown some users that it is replaceable. Which begs the question, what will happen when Stanley’s aren’t trendy anymore? 

Is it Even Drinkable?

Stanley’s could be old news sooner than later as TikTok users are skeptical whether or not their steel bottles contain lead. The Stanley company soon confirmed that there is lead as one of their spokespersons stated, “Our manufacturing process currently employs the use of an industry-standard pellet to seal the vacuum insulation at the base of our products; the sealing material includes some lead.” They soon reassured customers that the product’s surface does not contain lead. 

Despite their statement, users online are still nervous about whether or not to keep using the product. Possible side effects of being exposed to the toxic metal are kidney problems, anemia, reproductive issues, and developmental problems, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, Stanley Still Reigns

Despite the frightening news, there is no shortage of stopping for the Stanley brand as they had just released new colors on its rotations. The Tumbler’s design lives up to the hype, as it is quite indestructible, carries a slim base to be held in cupholders, and has a grip handle. Additionally, with newer styles coming, retailers will keep struggling to keep the Tumblers on shelves and customers will struggle to get their hands. Although these qualities make it superior to other cups in some ways, only time can tell when this trend becomes trash.

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About the Contributor
Gianluca Canseco
Gianluca Canseco, VP and Managing Editor / Writer / Photographer
Hello! My name is Gianluca Canseco. I am working on transferring to (Hopefully) UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. This is my second year at MSJC and my second year as a part of the Talon Student Newspaper. I came to the Talon to improve my writing skills to become a full-time author. Maybe move to New York, who knows? I mainly write local news and, to push me out of my comfort zone, I interview a lot of staff and locals. I like to say I’m a people writer because I’m so intrigued by everyone’s stories and aspirations, so I hope this will translate well into my own books. As of right now, I live a pretty busy life. When I get the chance I like to paint, work out, and read. My favorite book is “Less Than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis. Fun fact: I love primates. I would’ve been an anthropologist if my love for writing wasn’t greater. 
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