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The story behind “Anthora,” the NYC Greek Coffee Cup

14 November 2017

Every city needs a symbol. In its coffee cup, New York has something that's both genuinely unique and almost timeless.

When Greek immigrants arrived in New York in the early part of the last century, they brought their coffee culture along with them, giving birth to the city's ubiquitous Greek diners and sidewalk pushcarts. In 1963, the Sherri Cup Company set out to produce a to-go coffee cup that would appeal to the Greek vendors. Marketing director Leslie Buck dreamed up a motif that included blue-and-white colors from the flag of Greece. His customer-friendly message, WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU, was printed in Greek-style letters, adorned with a trio of steaming, mustard-yellow cups, flanked by ancient amphorae jars, and framed with a Greek Key pattern.

No one, before or since, has been able to capture, by accident or design, the city's self-identity. Still so identified with the city, the iconic cups have become standard-issue props on TV shows and motion pictures set in the city. This humble coffee cup is one of the things that makes New York, New York.

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