Coffee Cup Lid, Dart 16RCL

This is a Dart 16RCL peel and lock type coffee cup lid. Peel and lock type lids give the drinker a place to snap the peeled back lid part into itself, preventing the need to tear off or throw away a little triangle of plastic. This lid's design is covered by US 2008/0105696 A1, assigned to Dart Container Corp. on May 8, 2008.
Architects and collectors Louise Harpman and Scott Specht donated 56 plastic cup lids to the National Museum of American History in 2012. Their donation is a sample from their much larger collection of “independently patented drink-through plastic cup lids,” which they began in 1984 and discussed in a 2005 essay, “Inventory / Peel, Pucker, Pinch, Puncture,” in Cabinet Magazine: The collectors’ categorization scheme reflects the primary way the lid design functions, which helps differentiate between the varieties and styles of lids.
Plastic, disposable coffee cup lids and other single-use food packages reinforce the social acceptability of eating and drinking on the go in the United States and reflect increasing expectation for convenience products. Cup lids are also examples of how humble, and even disposable, objects are sometimes the result of meticulous engineering. Patents for lid innovations describe peel-back tabs and the pucker-type shapes that make room for mouths and noses, and describe the nuances of “heat retention,” “mouth comfort,” “splash reduction,” “friction fit,” and “one-handed activation.”
Object Name
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
white (overall color)
overall: 1 in x 3 7/8 in; 2.54 cm x 9.8425 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
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Work and Industry: Food Technology
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Louise Harpman and Scott Specht

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