90s Paper Cup Design – The Iconic Jazz  Design

90s Paper Cup Design - The Iconic Jazz Design

The paper cups that people sipped from at school parties. Those cups bore the “Jazz” design, an unmistakable icon of the 90s. It was often found on disposable paper cups. This design features distinctive purple and teal squiggles. These squiggles evoke a strong sense of nostalgia for anyone who grew up during that time. Follow Pando to explore the 90s paper cup design!

The Origins of Jazz

The Jazz design, a trademarked pattern featured on disposable cups, was first introduced in 1992 and quickly became an icon of 1990s culture. It has since evolved into a meme with a cult following, with fans applying the design to everything from automobiles to shirts and shoes. 

The origin of Jazz dates back to 1989 at the Sweetheart Cup Company. After unsatisfactory results from external design firms, Sweetheart initiated an internal contest to develop a new, easy-to-print cup design. 

Gina Ekiss, a designer at Sweetheart, entered a design featuring vibrant teal and purple colors, a choice inspired by her tastes and the goal of creating something harmonious. Her straightforward yet attractive design won the contest and was put into production in 1992. Initially manufactured by Sweetheart Cup Company, the rights to Jazz transferred to the Solo Cup Company when they acquired Sweetheart in 2004. Following this acquisition, the design became unofficially known as Solo Jazz, continuing its legacy in popular culture.

Popularity and Legacy

The Jazz design’s appeal extended beyond its visual presence; it became a cultural touchstone for a generation. This pattern decorated everyday items and evoked familiarity and comfort for those who grew up in the 90s. Its broad resonance allowed it to transition from a functional product design to a symbol of nostalgia.

  • Influence on Modern Culture

Today, the Jazz design continues to influence modern culture. Designers have revived it in fashion by incorporating its distinctive pattern into apparel and accessories. This reinvigorates a classic 90s look. Artists and graphic designers also reference or remix the Jazz aesthetics in their work. This highlights its enduring relevance in contemporary visual culture.

  • Marketing and Merchandise

The legacy of the Jazz design is a valuable asset in marketing and merchandise. Brands tap into 90s nostalgia using this iconic design to attract consumers who cherish that decade. Products featuring the Jazz pattern, such as T-shirts, sneakers, and lifestyle accessories, often surge in popularity. This appeal spans older generations and new audiences who appreciate the retro look.

  • Educational Insights

The Jazz design also offers valuable lessons in design simplicity and market impact. It shows how straightforward, functional designs can achieve widespread recognition and emotional connection. This surpasses many more complex and meticulously planned projects. For design students and professionals, the Jazz design serves as a case study. It demonstrates how cultural timing and visual distinctiveness can combine to create a lasting legacy in design history.

In short, the Jazz design is more than just a 90s relic—it’s a vibrant part of ongoing cultural dialogues. It’s a testament to the power of design in shaping and reflecting generational identities. Its popularity and adaptability underscore the timeless nature of resonant design work.

Controversy and Confirmation

Years later, the origin of the Jazz design became controversial. A Reddit query sparked a debate about who truly created it. This prompted journalist Thomas Gounley to investigate. He traced the design back to Gina Ekiss and confirmed her role. During an interview, Ekiss presented her original charcoal sketches. Another designer, Stephanie Miller, claimed that her design was stolen by Sweetheart. However, the evidence supported Ekiss’s story.

So… who was the original creator? We are not here to favor one side over another. Fans of 90s jazz appear to hold a significant interest in the nostalgia that the design evokes rather than the identity of its creator. The “Solo Jazz Pattern” not only enjoys the status of a “Confirmed Meme” (an established concept) but also features in over 500 listings on Etsy. Even after several decades since its inception, the teal and purple swirls continue to appear on various items such as stickers, clothing, and even contemporary websites.

Gina, Stephanie, and internet users may not all share the same views, but we can all agree that a teal and purple doodle on a paper cup becoming a noteworthy topic of discussion for years was unexpected. Design trends and popular culture are full of surprises, which adds to the thrill. One never knows when a simple doodle on a napkin, a charcoal sketch, or a stroke of a paintbrush could go down in history.


The Jazz design emerged from a corporate contest, capturing the essence of an era and becoming a cherished relic. Its story combines design simplicity, accidental fame, and a touch of internet-era controversy. This illustrates how everyday objects can evolve into symbols of collective memory. Looking back, it’s clear that the Jazz Cup is more than just its creator or the specifics of its creation. It’s about the shared experiences it represents for those who lived through the colorful, vibrant 90s.

Here at Pando, we also provide personalized services, like personalized cups. We serve clients with whole heart, clients’ success is our success.

If interested, don’t hesitate to contact us and let us offer you a unique one-stop packaging solution for you!