What role did Mormons, momfluencers and pre-teen girls play in the current Stanley Cup craze?

By Bianca Borissova

Published Jan 11, 2024 at 01:37 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

What’s the hottest and seemingly most-wanted accessory on TikTok right now? Believe it or not, it appears to be a thermos tumbler, also known as a ‘Stanley Cup’, with its hashtag currently sitting at 7.1 billion views on the video-sharing app.

Stanley Cups, or more specifically, Stanley Quenchers, are thermoses made from stainless steel built in a way that is meant to keep the temperature of your drink cold for up to 11 hours, and warm for up to 7 hours.

@feavu_

#greenscreenvideo Are the girls okay?? Whats going on genuinely asking #stanleycup

♬ original sound - feavu

The company itself has existed since 1913, with its founder, American physicist William Stanley Jr.’s patent flask being used by pilots during the Second World War. Up until recently, the brand’s target demographic has been adventurous people who need durable items for outdoor-related activities, blue-collared workers, and mainly men. Stanley’s prices range, but typically average at around £40 per cup.

This has since changed drastically however, with its increasing rise of popularity among millennials, Gen Z, and especially Gen Alpha girls, leading the brand to replace many of its camouflage or dark-coloured tumblers with soft pastels and glittery options.

Just recently, Target dropped a limited-edition Valentine’s Day collection in collaboration with Starbucks, featuring tumblers in pink and red, and cups with messaging like “It was love at first hit.” The launch was a huge success, completely selling out the range, with no plans to restock. In fact, the collection was so successful that it had people fighting over the cups and pulling all-nighters to make sure they were first in line in the queue.

@screenshothq

Stanley cups have us and everyone on TikTok in a CHOKEHOLD even in 2024 😭 Videos are going viral online showing people doing the most to get their hands on some limited edition cups…🥤🔥 #stanleycup #thestanleycup #tiktokdrama #trending #valentinesday2024 #stanleycupstarbucks #target #us

♬ PHONK BRASILEIRO FRESCO - DJ MOIGUS & DJ FKU
@jazzedbyjaz

#stanleyvalentinesday

♬ queen of disaster with sparkles - d6lliepnk
@vincentmarcus

Camped out at Target for the new viral pink Starbucks Stanley cup thing for my kiddo. Ridiculous? Yes. Fun? Also yes…😜#StanleyCup

♬ original sound - VincentMarcus

In the lead-up to Christmas, the Stanley Cup was frequently referenced as a must-have item on people’s wishlists on TikTok, especially among pre-teen girls. Shortly after the holidays, TikTok was flooded with wholesome videos of teenagers opening their presents, displaying extreme excitement and joy over receiving their Stanleys.

@crystalrich5

I guess we have a Stanley girlie on our hands now #stanleycup #christmas #christmasgift #christmaspresents #gift #stanley #fyp #wishlist @Stanley 1913

♬ Snowman - Sia
@si_babbay

Shes so cute. Stanly is a little bougie #christmas #stanleycup #openingpresents #fypシ #christmastiktok

♬ ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE - BRENDA LEE

But why is everyone and their mother so damn obsessed with Stanley Cups, and how did the brand suddenly switch its target demographics?

Why are Stanley Cups so popular?

In 2019, Stanley completely stopped restocking the Quenchers on its website, as it was no longer prioritised in production. This decision was then overturned in 2020, thanks to the three women behind The Buy Guide, a blog and Instagram account that specialises in e-commerce, with a large following demographic of women, mums, and ‘momfluencers’.

The three women reached out to the company and explained that anytime they would link the tumblers, they would sell out incredibly quickly. So, both the bloggers and Stanley came to an agreement and managed to get the brand to produce 5,000 extra Quenchers, which quickly sold out. That’s when they struck a deal with Stanley that they would start restocking the quenchers in exchange for The Buy Guide to promote the product and receive a share of the revenue, as reported by The New York Times.  

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A post shared by THE BUY GUIDE (@thebuyguide)

What is the connection between Stanley Cups and Mormons?

It didn’t take long before netizens began pointing to a connection between the popularity of the tumblers and Mormonism in the United States. For those of you who don’t know, Mormons are taught to not drink hot beverages, as they believe that “hot drinks are not for the body or belly,” thus avoiding tea or coffee and instead turning to alternative fizzy drinks for caffeine.

To keep them at an approved temperature, the Stanley Quencher’s ability to keep a drink cold for hours makes it a perfect option, thus making it extremely marketable to this particular demographic.

@pmatzko

Mormon soda culture is behind the Stanley cup girly trend. #dirtysoda #mormontiktok #mormoncheck #stanleytumbler #subarulesbians #marketinggenius #mormonsoda

♬ original sound - Matzko Minute

But still, how do you explain the cup’s popularity skyrocketing so much among younger demographics, such as Gen Z and now Gen Alpha?

Hannah Craggs, Head of Trend Subscription at TrendBible, a trend forecasting agency that has been tracking #wellness for over a decade, tells SCREENSHOT the following: “Thinking specifically about the recent surge in Stanley’s popularity; influencer and evolved sub-culture behaviour lies at its core, particularly TikTok. This continues to radically speed up the proliferation and adoption of specific products.”

“Stanley’s boom also links with the exponential growth of the post-pandemic ‘Outdoor Boom’ and associated #gorpcore trend which saw younger consumers discovering outdoor pursuits such as hiking,” Craggs continued.

When asked why specifically an item like a thermos may skyrocket so much in popularity, Craggs explains that “the fashion market has become near saturated by influencer culture and as such is becoming generic amongst a youth audience, cross-pollination of industries and influence is where the newness truly lies.”

While it appears that Stanley Quenchers have been rising in popularity since before 2020, when it comes to younger people, the craze really kicked off in 2023. But, as is the case with most trends among Gen Z and Gen Alpha, considering our obsession with micro-trends, how long is the Stanley Cup fixation going to last?

Casey Lewis, a Gen Z and youth consumer analyst and the trend forecaster behind the popular newsletter After School, notes: “The Stanley isn’t the first ‘cool girl’ tumbler—during the height of the VSCO girl aesthetic, the Hydro Flask was the ‘it’ water bottle—but I would say that no water bottle has reached cult status quite like Stanley has.”

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A post shared by Hydro Flask (@hydroflask)

That being said, Lewis believes that the trend is actually on its way out: “Once young people and middle-aged moms go all-in on a trend, the early adopters move on to something else. I watched TikTok after TikTok of tweens crying while opening Stanley tumblers on Christmas morning, and then the next week, elder millennials in the suburbs were fighting over Stanleys at Target. There’s no way the trend can sustain momentum from here.”

The trend analyst concluded: “Once something is too mainstream, it becomes gauche. I understand the absurdity of calling a water bottle gauche. I’m talking purely about Stanleys as a trend. A Stanley tumbler will always be useful and functional, even if it’s no longer the ‘it’ item.”

It goes without saying that the craze around these cups is not unique. Today, it might be a thermos, tomorrow, it will be something completely different, and it all feeds into our complicated never-ending relationship with micro-trends and overconsumption.

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