You might never have heard the name Leslie Buck, but you just might be familiar with something he designed:
His iconic paper coffee cup was originally designed for the Sherri Cup Company of Kensington, Connecticut. The design proved to be so popular that dozens of companies imitated it, and soon almost any hot beverage served to go in New York was served one of Buck’s cups or a knockoff.
The Greek-influenced cups have appeared in almost every TV show that’s ever been based in New York. Liz Lemon has been seen drinking from the cups in 30 Rock, as did Glenn Close in Damages, and the cups made so many appearances in NYPD Blue and Law & Order that they deserve their own “Best Supporting Prop” award.
Over the past 40 years, the cups have practically become a symbol of the city of New York. Artists have made change purses based on the design. MoMA sells a ceramic version in their gift shop. Online sellers sell them to homesick New Yorkers, and a few enterprising folks even sell paper sleeves that can turn a generic Styrofoam cup into their favorite memory of home! I think all that’s pretty cool.
Buck, born Laszlo Büch in Czechoslovakia, survived the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps before making his way to New York.
He died at age 87 of complications from Parkinson’s.