Food and Drink

The Stanley tumbler craze is overflowing

Stanley cup fans have waited in lines for hours this past week, for reasons that have nothing to do with the National Hockey League championship trophy. They’ve been trying to snag exclusive versions of reusable water bottles in stores, the latest sign that the drinkware brand has become a status symbol and an all-consuming craze.

Stanley has been selling bottles since 1913, and its cultlike community has grown considerably in recent years with help from social media. Fans of the tumblers, which cost between $14 and $60 depending on the size, say they love the cups’ collectible-worthy colors; the large sizes that motivate them to drink more water; and the handles, which make the cups more portable and huggable.

Stanley stans are even customizing their bottles, adding on text engravings available through the brand’s website; laminating the cylindrical packaging labels and sticking them back on; and accessorizing with off-brand snack bowls and trays designed to stack on top of the lids. Stanley cups - especially the 40-ounce Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler that starts at $45 - have hit a growing number of holiday wish lists while being marketed to people committing to fitness goals for the new year.

Stanley is one of the first brands shoppers see on Target’s website and app as the store advertises its “Wellness Jumpstart” campaign. The demand for recent limited-quantity releases - red and hot pink cups on Dec. 31 for Valentine’s Day and “winter pink” cups with clear pink straws on Wednesday in a collaboration with Starbucks - reveal how ubiquitous the beverage containers have become.

One TikTok from New Year’s Eve with more than 16 million views showed customers swarming a display of cups, grabbing one or two - or four - from the brand’s Valentine’s Day collection.

On Wednesday, crowds waited outside Targets nationwide, some arriving as early as 1 in the morning for a chance to snag the special Starbucks cup. When Bella Boye, an 18-year-old dancer and influencer in Tampa, arrived around 4:40 a.m., she wasn’t expecting anyone to be there yet. But there were already three other people waiting, she said, including two people she first met while waiting for the New Year’s Eve drop.

By the time the store opened, somewhere around 40 people had coalesced for Stanleys. One of Boye’s TikToks, in which she filmed the crowd of consumers snatching Stanleys after taking two of her own, has gotten more than 1 million views.


“The way that you get attached with a new sweatshirt . . . - you’ll wear it for like a week after you first get it - is how I am with my cups,” Boye said.

Boye added that her hunts have been relatively calm, save for one person stealing a Stanley from the store. But in some locations, TikToks showed squabbles breaking out, including line cutting, shoplifting and one person jumping over the Starbucks counter. (Target didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, and Stanley declined to comment.)

[If you didn’t share a recap video, did 2023 even happen?]

Stanley’s popularity was inadvertently helped along by 37-year-old Danielle Faudree, the self-proclaimed “Stanley cup car fire girl.” In a November TikTok that’s racked up 92 million views, Faudree, reached into her old Kia - tattered and partially melted from it catching on fire the day before - and lifted her bronze Stanley cup that was sitting in the vehicle’s cup holder. When she shook the barely-scathed cup, ice clanged against its interior.

The Stanley brand reached out to Faudree, who lives in Pasadena, Md., and company president Terence Reilly responded with a TikTok promising to replace her Stanley - and her car. Faudree said she was gifted nine Stanley cups and a brand-new 2024 Mazda CX-90.

“They never made me feel like I was a commercial or I was a marketing opportunity,” she told The Washington Post. “It was really just focused on: ‘We want to make sure you’re happy, you’re safe, and we want to get this car for you and your family.’”

With her influx of social media followers as a result of her Stanley videos, Faudree said she wanted to pay it forward and buy Stanleys to give away. She visited four different stores, but she had no luck finding any.

“I was like, ‘Well, I guess this is my fault, kind of,’” she said.

Ever since the 1990s, when staying hydrated first became a popular health goal for the general population (and not just elite athletes), certain reusable water bottles have become trends in their own right. The wide-mouthed, screw-top Nalgene - first popularized among campers and hikers in the 1970s - were everywhere in the late 2000s. Businesses and universities offered logoed editions to their employees and students; young people imprinted their personalities onto their Nalgenes via stickers. After authorities began to sound the alarm about bisphenol A - a toxin contained in some plastics, including the kind once used by Nalgene - the company replaced its polycarbonate water bottles with BPA-free versions.

In the following years, tall and heavy stainless-steel water carriers rose to prominence, and many a gym-goer or yogi may remember the late 2010s as the era when workouts were regularly punctuated by the head-turning, flow-disrupting THWONK of a HydroFlask or S’Well clattering to the floor.

Like shoes, handbags and watches, water bottles are now accessories that can subtly communicate something about the person who chooses to tote them around. Health, yes. An active lifestyle, sure. Money, frequently.

Celebrities have, of course, contributed to that phenomenon. In 2018, Vanity Fair declared the Goop-approved water bottle with a whole natural crystal affixed to the inside it - made by brands such as Glacce and VitaJuwel and sold at the time for $80 and upward - the status symbol of the year after the likes of reality TV star Spencer Pratt and model Miranda Kerr sang its praises. “You feel like you’re getting that little extra bit of love when you have your water,” Kerr said that year.

Not every “it” water bottle is quite so high-end. In 2021, a $28 “motivational” gallon jug of water with encouragements for the drinker printed on it at each level (“12 p.m.: Keep drinking,” “2 p.m.: Halfway there!”) briefly became a social-media sensation after Chrissy Teigen, Julianne Hough, Lewis Hamilton, Rob Lowe and Kylie Jenner were all spotted with one. (The amount contained in the bottle is nearly twice the rule-of-thumb recommendation for daily water consumption, eight glasses - though recent revisits of that policy have found most humans don’t need even that much.) Around the same time, Jonah Hill, Sasha and Malia Obama and apparent water enthusiast Hough were noted as HydroFlask users in a Glamour story that described the steel jug, whose different personal sizes retail anywhere from $22 to $50, as a standout quarantine purchase.

The Stanley tumbler has its own celebrity following, naturally: Olivia Rodrigo, Jessica Alba and Shay Mitchell are fans. Adele drank from a rose-gold one on James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke.” Carrie Underwood bedazzled hers.

And like many trending brands, Stanley has a growing number of haters, too: some TikTokers, unimpressed with the price tag or its leakage when flipped upside-down, have instead encouraged people to buy cheaper dupes. Other critics are horrified by how Stanley cups have become something of a case study in overconsumption.

All things, though, are fleeting. Life. Love. Water-bottle trends. A challenger has already emerged on the horizon. Product-test publications have anointed the next great water bottle: the colorful, innovatively-engineered Owala Free Sip.