Photographs: Getty Images, Stanley; Collage: Gabe Conte
When I heard that Olivia Rodrigo was really into the Stanley cup, my first thought was: is the SoCal songstress a Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks fan? Turns out, she was talking about the portable mug that has become the latest social media craze. As an ardent Hydro Flask user, I felt out of the loop. What is this new receptacle vying for hydration supremacy with my preferred brand? As a lifelong sports guy, I was also confused in a different way. How did this iconic sports term—Stanley cup—come to mean something entirely different? And seemingly overnight!
The answer, it seems, is that TikTok currently carries more pop-cultural sway than the National Hockey League. Unless the 25-and-under crowd really embraces Chicago Blackhawks’ teenage sensation Connor Bedard—not impossible!—the double-walled cup stands to have a larger cultural foothold than the Cup. You may have read about people putting their body in actual danger to purchase one, or seen videos of people adorning their Stanley with a backpack as if they’re sending it off to the first day of kindergarten. People are forging real connections with their oversized sippy cups. The other Cup is officially on notice.
That said, the hockey trophy was here first. The Stanley Cup—North America’s oldest existing trophy given to a professional sports franchise—was first awarded in 1893, back when hydration was purely a myth. Now, its honorable name—which comes from Lord Stanley of Preston, Governor General of Canada—has been besmirched by the latest must-have retail item. However, upon conducting some very important research, I learned that the beverage container company was founded in 1913, so there’s more longevity here than anticipated. That said, the beverage container has never commanded its own parade that included Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin’s parents sipping champagne from it. That sort of panache is reserved for things that are earned, not bought. Talk to me when someone gets a 40-ounce water bottle for taking down the Detroit Red Wings dynasty as a 21-year-old.
When it comes to deciding who gets ownership of the Stanley cup name, the trophy has the upper hand in both tenure and prestige. It is the holy grail of a major sport, after all. But the drink holders are what’s really popping right now, rekindling the age-old debate of whether it’s better to slowly fade away or burn out in a blaze of glory. At the same time, the hockey trophy isn’t dead. It’s just been temporarily upstaged! Feel free to think of it like how there’s two Steve McQueens. Neither one is the right Steve McQueen—one just came first.
The obvious compromise here is for people to stop referring to the canisters as “cups” so as to avoid any confusion or hurt feelings moving forward. The hockey trophy is an enormous deal, and should be respected to some degree. Getting your name engraved on it is the goal of quite literally every hockey player on earth. The thermos company is simply not on that level yet, no matter how ascendant things are looking right now. The trophy is also handled by people in suits wearing special white gloves, for crying out loud! Let’s maybe try calling the new kid on the block…Stanley jugs, perhaps? Stanley chalices, maybe. Or, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, you can rip the language straight from the company’s website and refer to them as Stanley all-steel vacuum bottles.
Either way, the hockey trophy has been through too much—it’s seen the world, and strip clubs!—to have some young whippersnapper steal its valor. It’s also unclear how many hot dogs can fit in the colorful goblets. Unless an NHL player comes right out and says that they’d rather have the chalice than the trophy, the scales are tipped toward Lord Stanley.
Originally Appeared on GQ