by Ryan Felton
Soon they were the Individual Drinking Cup Company of New York and had renamed their sole product the Health Kup, a life-saving drinking technology that could help prevent the transmission of communicable disease and aid the campaign to do away with free water offered at communal cups, “tin dippers,” found in public buildings and railway stations. Make no mistake, because of this scourge, one biologist reported in a 1908 article, there was “Death in School Drinking Cups.”
They dance on street corners and used car lots, waving their stubby arms in the wind. Tirelessly they shimmy, collapse, and bob up again, stupid grin permanently glued to their stupid faces. They are wacky inflatable tube guys, a ubiquitous advertising product that manages to be mesmerizing, hilarious, and existentially bleak, depending on your mood.
Sitting at a stoplight with nothing else to stare at, it’s easy to watch their erratic performance and wonder: How did something so strange take over our commercial streetscape?
To find out, I called a man named Doron Gazit.