There’s nothing like the image of the Jazz Solo Cup to bring milennials back to simpler times, when only moms wore mom jeans and Tomagachi was the height of technology. Little was known, however, of the origins ubiquitous design, until an anonymous reddit user by the name of mcglaven set out to find the identity of the designer. Thus, through the forces of collective nostalgia and the Internet, the hunt began.
Even after much Googling and a very spirited email, very little information surfaced. Crowd sourcing only uncovered that the creator was named Gina, and she worked in Springfield in the late 1980s. That’s when Thomas Gounley of News-Leader took matters into his own hands. After scouring newspaper archives and reaching out to Solo, he stumbled across his answer on twitter after searching the keyword “Jazz Solo Cup.” The tweeter claimed to be daughter of the Jazz designer.
Of course, Gounley contacted the twitter user, who confirmed that Gina was indeed her mother. The lead ran dry, though, as the user was not helpful in scheduling a meeting. Luckily, through public record databases, Gounley was able track down Gina’s address in Aurora. And so, after months of sleuthing, Gounley arrived at the home of Gina Ekiss with a film crew and questions.
During the filmed interview, Ekiss, a now 50 year old graduate of Missouri State University, seems a bit taken aback. This reaction is probably in part a response to cult following of a design she never expected to become so iconic, and also because she has just invited strangers with video cameras into her house.
“I don’t see it as anything special,” she laughed, adding, “it gives me a sense of accomplishment knowing that it’s still popular, and that it’s still going on for whatever reason.”
Gounley estimates that over 9.5 billion units of paper and plastic items were produced annually during the late 1980s. The image of the Jazz Solo Cup, that nonchalant, turquoise brush stroke with the delicate purple squiggle, is etched into the memory of thousands of people, and tributes of it can be seen on t-shirts and even cars, and even as the iconic symbol of Insta-famous account, Fuck Jerry.
But Solo didn’t stop there. The extremely successful brand has managed to follow us millenials as we careened tipsily into our adulthood through its equally iconic Red Solo Cup design. I summon the Internet: who was the mastermind behind that design? Or is it more about effective marketing?
You can see the full interview, including Ekiss’s responses to mcglaven’s five original reddit questions here.