This is a Fonda brand peel and lock coffee cup lid. The lid bears patent number 5,197,624 assigned March 30, 1993 to M&N Plastics, Incorporated to "improve access closure hold-open operation and structure in a cup lid." Peel and lock type lids give the drinker a place to snap the peel back lid part into itself, preventing the need to tear off or throw away a little triangle of plastic.
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: http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/19/harpman.php. 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.”
Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.